Few regular events in Long Beach carry the history, passion, and pure electricity in the air of the annual Wilson and Long Beach Poly swim meet. Last year’s meet was canceled and had been scheduled for the exact date that the Long Beach Unified School District shuttered its campuses for what would be more than a year’s closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday at Cabrillo, the two historic schools met for the Moore League swim opener, in an event that felt like a re-opening in many ways.
With the crowd roaring for three hours straight and a number of record-setting, thrilling races, the Wilson boys prevailed 108-62 and the Poly girls came out on top 93-77. In a showcase of how deep and talented the local swim scene is, the losing sides both featured star freshmen and sophomores.
The Wilson boys are in search of their 48th consecutive Moore League championship, the longest active state title streak in the state of California. If Saturday’s performance is to be believed, the Bruins are in great shape, led by star junior Hank Rivers, who nabbed another pair of school records in the 100 breaststroke (54.94) and the 200 individual medley (1:50.36).
“There was a great crowd and it got me fired up, and it got the boys fired up,” said Rivers. “We all want to come out and beat Poly, they’re our great rivals. We were hyped and we were swimming great times.”
Rivers is one of the top swimmers in the country and said he’s planning on chasing a few more school records as he tries to etch his name alongside the legendary figures in Wilson aquatic history, something his coach, Eric Berg, is confident will happen.
“He’s the full package, he’s a fantastic athlete but he’s also a special person,” said Berg. “He loves his teammates, he loves to be with the boys and it’s contagious when you have a superstar athlete who’s not a satellite kind of hovering above. We’re blessed to have him.”
Berg said he’d been stressed about the meet because of the strange schedule this year, which only allowed him a few weeks to take the bulk of his program and turn them from water polo players back into swimmers.
“This was our very first competition in over 13 months, this is our first meet,” said Berg. “I had no times on these kids, we hadn’t seen the freshman and sophomores, so we’re just trying to find ourselves. And it’s Wilson Poly, right? It’s Long Beach sports, that fast. So to have this intensity and excitement at the beginning of the season is special.”
The Bruins also got multiple-event wins from junior Gray Carson (50 free, 100 free). For Poly, coach Eddie Kim was thrilled with the performances of freshmen Evan Jue and Sam Kuo, who won the 500 free and 100 backstroke, and sophomore Colin Geer, who won the 100 fly.
“They’re the future,” said Kim.
Poly coach Kalani Caldwell also said she’d been anxious about the meet. The Jackrabbits are currently toting a five-year Moore League championship reign, the longest in school history and the only five-year streak ever by a school not named Wilson. Caldwell said the lack of training time before the season was keeping her up at night. In the end, the depth of her program allowed them a win.
“When a girl swims well and has a good time, I put a smiley face next to their time,” said Caldwell. “And I have smiley faces on almost every single race. I was hoping that our depth would carry us, which is exactly what happened.”
The Jackrabbits didn’t have a multiple event winner, but consistently placed two swimmers in the top three finishers.
“We ‘depthed’ them,” said Caldwell. “This was totally amazing, you could feel the tension in the air, it was palpable. I’m so proud of my girls.”
Poly got event wins from Michaela Sumortin, Trinity Salcedo, and Kate Cassiano, who clinched the meet victory with a win in the 100 breaststroke.
The top girls swimmer of the day was star Wilson freshman Sammie Hamilton, who put the city on notice in her first high school meet. Hamilton won the 200 free (1:54.74) and 500 free (5:06.97) and was a force in the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Hamilton said that like most top-tier athletes entering legacy programs in the city, she’s always known where she was going to high school.
“Yeah it’s pretty much from the beginning I knew I was going to Wilson,” she said. “It’s great to be back in the pool after we’ve had a year and a half off of meets for high school, I’m just happy to be here for the first time.”
200 Medley Relay
Girls: Poly (Cassiano, Brys, Salcedo, Sumortin) 1:53.25
Boys: Wilson (Prosser, Rivers, Crenshaw, Carson) 1:37.61
Girls: Sammie Hamilton (Wilson) 1:54.75
Boys: Andrew Sorensen (Wilson) 1:48.47
Girls: Leila Marr (Wilson) 2:17.64
Boys: Hank Rivers (Wilson) 1:50.36
Girls: Michaela Sumortin (Poly) 25.33
Boys: Gray Carson (Wilson) 21.93
Girls: Trinity Salcedo (Poly) 1:01.24
Boys: Colin Geer (Poly) 51.50
Girls: Zoe Grover (Wilson) 56.01
Boys: Gray Carson (Wilson) 47.38
Girls: Sammie Hamilton (Wilson) 5:06.97
Boys: Evan Jue (Poly) 4:54.20
200 Free Relay
Girls: Poly (Buffington, Knapp, Hong, Sumortin) 1:43.22
Boys: Wilson (Carson, Margain, Sorensen, Rivers) 1:27.75
Girls: Leila Marr (Wilson) 1:01.19
Boys: Sam Kuo (Poly) 57.05
Girls: Kate Cassiano (Poly) 1:11.02
Boys: Hank Rivers (Wilson)
400 Free Relay
Girls: Wilson (Hamilton, Marr, O’Dea, Grover) 3:40.91
Boys: Wilson (Crenshaw, Margain, Prosser, Sorensen) 3:20.56