HomeSportsLady Titans Drown RHL Foes–Again

Lady Titans Drown RHL Foes–Again

STILL AFLOAT: San Marino High School girls’ varsity swim won its fourth consecutive Rio Hondo League championship last week with a 128-35 win over Monrovia. The Lady Titans are undefeated during the streak, winning 20 straight league dual meets under head Coach Mark Barr, far left.

“Consistency” is an attribute one might think would benefit a golf or tennis team, but San Marino High School girls’ varsity swim Coach Mark Barr said it is that specific virtue that has helped the Lady Titans cultivate four consecutive Rio Hondo League championships, the most recent coming last week with a 128-35 win over Monrovia.

During the streak, San Marino has won 20 consecutive league dual meets and heads into the RHL finals as the favorite to win that competition as well.

Head Coach Mark Barr has been involved in the school’s swim and water polo programs since the last century, but is still impressed with his charges’ recent success.

“All four years, I honestly thought that La Cañada had a better team,” said Barr, who came to the school in 1997 and became the full-time girls’ varsity head coach ten years later. “They were deeper, but we found a way to win. Twice we swam them after their spring break and that really helped us. But this year, it was after our spring break and La Cañada is as deep as they have ever been and I thought we would have some problems. But we were able to hold them off and win.”

“Hold them off” might be an understatement, even for the famously humble and understated Barr.

At this year’s meet that was held at La Cañada, the Lady Titans charged out to a substantial lead. But the Spartans took the 100-meter breaststroke to tie the meet with just one event remaining. Fortunately, Barr was able to watch his powerhouse 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay team of Kali Villaluna, Sophia Yao, Dora Chang and Sabrina Wang work their collective magic to snag an 84-82 win and keep the streak alive. The 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay team is undefeated in 2019 and has already qualified for CIF action.

Villaluna, Yao, Chang and Wang also are undefeated in the 4 x 50-meter medley relay and the 4 x 50-meter freestyle relay team of Ellie Chen, Siouxsie Lennox, Blake Pak and Grace Emmanuelee is also undefeated and headed to CIF.

“We only have two seniors and a low number of swimmers is typically not good for a swim team,” Barr said. “But they are really consistent and we have a very deep talent pool from which to draw.”

Ellie Chen and Claire Chiu are the two seniors. Chen has excelled in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle, pretty much guaranteeing points for the Lady Titans.

“Ellie really shows up for meets,” said Barr. “I’m not saying that she doesn’t work hard in practice, but she definitely has an extra edge when we are in a meet. I admire her competitive nature.”

On the other end of the spectrum are “two great freshmen,” in Barr’s estimation. Aside from starring in the relays, Sophia Yao, and Sabrina Wang are solid in individual events, with Wang starring in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly.

Villaluna has also pre-qualified for the CIF meet in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100 backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle. Chang is qualified in the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly and the 100-meter backstroke. Yao has qualified in the 200-meter individual medley, and the 100-meter butterfly and breaststroke. And Pak, a sophomore, can pack her bags to attend the CIF meet in the 100-meter butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke.

Emmanuelee will also be representing the Royal & White in the 500-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly.

“This is a really good group, but they have continued the tradition of hard work and dedication that has been a part of this program for several years,” Barr said.


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