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Swimming: Estancia girls break through

Eagles defeat Mesa girls for first time in eight years. Connors helps Mustang boys win easily.

May 01, 2014|By Matt Szabo

Estancia High senior Nikkie Blinn could feel Costa Mesa junior Lauren Smith breathing down her neck.

Blinn and Smith were perhaps the two best girls' water polo players in the city of Costa Mesa last winter. But they were battling in the anchor leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay at Wednesday's Orange Coast League swim meet at Costa Mesa High, and Smith was closing fast in the final 25 yards.

Blinn said after the meet that she found a second wind. She held off Smith, touching in 1 minute, 52.45 seconds, with the Mustangs close behind in 1:52.78.

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On the girls' side, the Eagles showed that they also have a swimming leg up on the Mustangs for the first time in years.

Estancia's girls won the dual meet, 93-72, their first dual meet win against their rivals since the Golden West League champion team of 2006. Mesa was too strong on the boys' side, 110-60.

The Estancia girls improved to 4-1 in league and have momentum going into the league finals, which have preliminaries Tuesday and finals Thursday, also at the Mustangs' pool.

Costa Mesa's girls have finished second in the league for six straight years, but it is the Eagles who occupy that spot at the moment.

"It's awesome, because these past couple of years Mesa has always beaten us in water polo," Blinn said. "They've just been really good at aquatics. But then, to finally come back as a senior and beat them, it's kind of like a high school dream come true. Now, after Laguna, we're second in league, which is the highest we've been ranked in a while. That's exciting."

Estancia girls' coach Bob Bandaruk said all of his girls swam their best times. Blinn was the anchor of two winning relays, including the aforementioned 200 free relay that also featured Brandi White, Alexis Discenzo and Darby Lester. The Eagles also won the meet-opening 200 medley relay, as Jenna Rutledge, White, Lester and Blinn finished in 2:09.37.

Blinn captured the 50 free (27.74 seconds) and 100 breaststroke in 1:19.60. White, a sophomore who was the only Estancia swimmer to make CIF finals last year, won the 200 IM in 2:26.47, as well as the 100 backstroke in 1:08.22. Each time is a CIF Southern Section Division 3 consideration time.

Lester won the 100 butterfly in 1:18.19 for Estancia, which swept the top three spots in both the individual medley and butterfly. Rutledge and Genesis Fuentes were strong in the IM, each posting their best times of 2:45.02 and 2:54.89, as were Discenzo and Fuentes in the fly.

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