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Western State Conference championship: Trickling thirds

Valley College’s men’s and women’s swim team competed for the conference championship from April 20 - 22.

By Kevin Khachatryan, Staff Writer

Lilliana Noriega, who broke a 43 year old Valley College 50 meter freestyle record, competed in the WSC last weekend. Her 100 yard backstroke time propelled her to the state championships. (Nicholas Orozco | Valley Star)

Valley College hosted the Western State Conference Championships in the 10-school swim meet last weekend. Freshman swimmer Lilliana Noriega, and Valley College Women’s swim team along with two of Valley’s relay teams have qualified for the 2023 CCCAA State Swim meet, May 4 - 6 at East LA College.

On the women’s side, record breaker Lilliana Noriega placed in the top three twice, but sunk to fourth place on the final day. The freshmen broke her second conference record for Valley College in the 100-yard backstroke that was first set in 2019. Noriega clocked in at 01:01:70, three milliseconds ahead of the previous record.

The kinesiology major stated her excitement about the top swimmers she was facing.

“It’s great being able to race people that are faster than me, “ said the freshman. “They push me to go faster and drive me to do better when I get out there. It’s really exciting for this to happen in my first season, and I hope to make it to state.”

Head Coach Pete Loporchio was pleased and encouraged by his team’s effort for the three day championship event and was happy with the job that the team put out.

“I’m extremely pleased,” said Loporchio. “Every single one of them did a tremendous job, you couldn’t be more pleased with what they did. We are a small group and we pride ourselves on the small group, knowing that we don’t have 15 swimmers.”

Santa Monica College blew the competition out in the swimming pool, as they set a conference record in the women’s 400-yard freestyle relay, finishing with a time of 03:34:37, beating the original time of 03:36:66, held by Ventura College since 2009.

The men’s swimming team had six swimmers compete in the three day event including sophomore Erik Sarkissian, Sargis Kaputikyan, Hakop Ansuryan, Charles Patsch and freshmen Casey Surber and Andrew Guerrero. All struggled to compete against the top swimmers, as the majority flooded in fifth and sixth place.

Hancock College swimmer Max Pecile plunged to first place in all three days of the championship, demonstrating skills that Valley’s men lacked. Pecile set a state record in the 400-yard medley, outswimming the competitors to finish with a time of 04:02:78, breaking a record previously held by Justin Mclure in 2003, who finished with a time of 04:04:45.

“The kids swam above expectations,” said head coach Jim McMillan. “We finished second in 2018, and this has been our best team since then. I’m proud of the effort they put out.”

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