Everything went according to plan for Wilson boys’ swimming during the Moore League finals on Friday at Cabrillo High. The Bruins won a California record 48th consecutive league title while junior Hank Rivers set a handful of new league and meet records.
“This was exactly what we expected it to be, under the lights and in front of a pretty big crowd… It was a great time,” Rivers said. “I was mentally and physically prepared. I spent the last two days figuring out how to swim my races that I did tonight. Our main word we used as a team was, ‘Execute’ and we all had a job to do and we all executed.”
Wilson won all three levels and finished the night with 589 points on the variety scoreboard. Poly was second with 500.5 points and Millikan was third with 330.50. The Bruins were first in six of the 11 varsity championship races.
“We’re trying to keep something going that started 48 years ago with coach Gruneisen, and then Klaus kept it, and I’ve tried to keep things rolling, but it’s the kids,” Wilson coach Eric Berg said. “The kids are the ones who swim. They feel it. I don’t like to talk about it. It’s one season at a time. Right now I’m going to go home, look at the results, and start focusing on next year.”
Rivers, who is a recent verbal commit to Cal, got his historic night started by breaking the meet and league records with a time of 1:48.99 in the 200 yard individual medley. His finish broke the league record set by Lakewood’s Daniel MacArthur in 2013, and the meet record set by Brandon D’Sa set in 2011. D’Sa was there to witness it as a Poly swim coach, and said he was very impressed by Rivers’ performance.
Two more meet and league records fell in the 100 breaststroke when Rivers blew the field away with a time of 54.58. The league record of 54.94 was set in 1978.
“I think about that all of the time,” Rivers said of the history. “I want to include myself with all of the great swimmers (from Long Beach) and people from the aquatic family that have been through this program. I want to be part of that and it’s really something special. It’s motivation.”
Wilson capped the night with a meet record-breaking 400 freestyle relay as Rivers, Gray Carson, Jackson Prosser and Kade Margain finished with a time of 3:09.86. Rivers also broke the record with his split in the race.
“There’s been some great swimmers in generations and Hank is one of those swimmers in his generation,” Berg said. “Sometimes you don’t really know what your watching when you’re watching it, but this is something pretty special.”
Berg added that Rivers’ attitude with his teammates has made him and his team better.
“Hank just loves hanging out with his bros,” Berg said. “He trains at an elite level with one of the supreme programs, but when he’s not he loves being one of the boys. It’s contagious.”
With the cold, windy weather playing a factor at Cabrillo all evening, Rivers made sure his teammates were taking care of each other.
“I just make sure to keep myself warm, and I was also making sure the guys weren’t wearing a wet towel,” Rivers said. “It gets a little nippy here at night so we made sure we kept our clothes on to stay warm and swim good times.”
Wilson had a bevy of good times including a pair of wins for Carson in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. In fact, Carson broke a Wilson school record in the 100 freestyle that was set by Tim Shaw in 1975. However, Rivers broke that record with his 45.11 split in the final relay.
“He’s goal driven and not afraid of training and working hard,” Berg said of Rivers. “He’s a very genuine and grounded person. He’s in touch with the skills that he has. He knows he has a gift and works to hone it in and sharpen it. It’s fun to watch.”
Poly finished second thanks in part to a solid performance from sophomore Colin Geer. He was part of the 200 medley relay team that took the top spot in the first race of the day. Geer also won the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.19 to set the school record. He also set school records in the 200 IM, the 50 freestyle and the 100 free.
Millikan got a pair of impressive and somewhat surprising victories as Anthony Montez took the 100 backstroke (55.33) and Max Miller won the 200 freestyle from Lane 2. The junior finished strong with a time of 1:47.46 despite slipping at the start and scrapping his ankle across the platform.
“When I hit the water I was like, ‘Oh, that really hurts,’” Miller said. “But once I was in the race my adrenaline just took over.”
After jumping into the pool with his team to celebrate yet another title, coach Berg had nothing but praise for the young swimmers of Long Beach.
“Nothing has been normal about this year and these guys got me though this whole COVID thing,” Berg said. “I’m just so proud of all these kids, not just mine, but all these kids. There was great competition and so many great swims and everybody’s future looks great.”
Moore League 2021 Champions
200 Medley Relay: Poly (Samuel Kuo, Erik Fourzon, Colin Geer, Reece Hammond) 1:35.87
200 Free: Max Miller (Millikan) 1:47.46
200 Individual Medley: Hank Rivers (Wilson) 1:48.99
50 Free: Gray Carson (Wilson) 21.75
100 Fly: Colin Geer (Poly) 50.19
100 Free: Gray Carson (Wilson) 46.36
500 Free: Evan Jue (Poly) 4:49.53
200 Free Relay: Wilson (Hayden Ehrenfeld, Kade Margain, Andrew Sorensen, Cameron Torres) 1:28.98
100 Back: Anthony Montez (Millikan) 55.33
100 Breaststroke: Hank Rivers (Wilson) 54.58
400 Free Relay: Wilson (Hank Rivers, Gray Carson, Jackson Prosser, Kade Margain) 3:09.86