Cabrillo Jordan Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan Swimming Wilson

Girls’ Swim: Wilson Wins Moore League For First Time Since 2015

The Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits had won the last five Moore League championships— and the pre-meet seedings predicted another close battle with rivals Wilson— but the Bruins came to Cabrillo High on Friday night as confident as ever.

In fact, Wilson team captain Leila Marr and fellow senior Shelby Hess were walking around the pool deck at the beginning of the league finals meet telling anyone who would listen, “Wilson? More like Wil-Win!”

That’s exactly what the Bruins did as their strong relay teams helped deliver the first Wilson girls’ swimming league title since 2015. The Bruins scored 564 points and Poly was second at 521 points.

“We have worked so endlessly hard this entire year and the last few years to try and get this back,” Wilson sophomore Sammie Hamilton said. “I think this is where it belongs and it will be here for awhile.”

Hamilton was dominant in her 200-yard Freestyle and 500 Freestyle victories, and the sophomore sensation was also part of the 200 Freestyle and 400 Freestyle Relay teams that secured the team win. The Poly relays were the difference last year when they won the title in dramatic fashion.

“It was really devastating for us last year,” Hamilton added. “Especially it being freshman year for me, it was kind of like, ‘Is this what league is?’ but we pushed through it this year. I’m so excited it happened because we worked so hard.”

Wilson had won 15 of the last 16 league titles until Poly took five straight from 2016-21.

“It’s a rallying cry every year but especially this one because it’s a full season,” Wilson coach Maggi Twinem said. “We didn’t have a modified schedule. We’ve been putting in the time since September training. Our mission was to ultimately bring back the Moore League title and all of these girls made it happen. I’m blessed to have the group I have.”

Twinem gave extra credit to her focused senior class led by Marr and Isabella Reina.

“Those two were Varsity all four years and they know what it felt like every year coming to this meet,” Twinem said. “They told the girls from day one that we have the ability to do it and they rallied this team behind them. It’s the commitment and they sacrificed a lot to be able to do this. They were tired of going down to the last event and not winning. This senior class wanted to go away with the championship.”

Wilson took first place in eight of the 11 events— which is the same thing Poly did last year when it retained the title. Early in the meet on Friday when the Jackrabbits had a swimmer disqualified in the 200 Individual Medley and then Wilson sisters Maya and Katherine O’Dea finished first and second in the 50 Freestyle, that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“Any touch just went Wilson’s way today,” Poly coach Kalani Caldwell said. “It was their day and they deserve it. They’re very strong.”

Poly also got solid performances from swimmers like Sofia Brys, who won the 200 IM and the 100 Butterfly.

“Something I’ve been saying all year is that we can only be our best and we can’t worry about anybody else and that’s what we did today,” Caldwell said. “We had PRs all over the place. If my girls are swimming their fastest times that’s what we’re happy about.”

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The biggest surprise of the meet came in the 100 Breaststroke when Wilson junior Chelsea Park won from lane two with a personal best time of 1:10.88.

“I can’t even describe the feeling,” Park said. “It was just absolutely amazing and everything I’ve been working towards. I couldn’t have done this alone. Everybody has been pushing me. And I couldn’t have done this without my brother (Allen) who told me yesterday about how life is limitless. I truly believe in that right now.”

Hamilton was the star of the meet because of how easily she won her individual freestyle races. She won the 500 by more than 30 seconds, and said she needed to stay focused despite the strong emotions she and her teammates were going through all day.

“I was feeling really hyped after the first relay but I had to contain myself and keep calm so I could focus on my races,” Hamilton said. “But I turned it into more of a nervous energy to get me excited and ready to go to push me to be great.”

“She’s a rare gem and we’re blessed she came to Wilson,” Twinem said. “She has the fire inside and every time she gets up on the blocks she’s a competitor. She doesn’t want to lose, and she has a group effort that’s with her.”

That group including the O’Dea sisters, Marr, Park, Zoe Grover and others were almost perfect in their relays. Hamilton, Grover and the O’Dea sisters posted a meet record 1:38.60 in the 200 Freestyle Relay. That broke a record set in 2005 by Wilson. Future Olympian Jessica Hardy was on that relay team.

“They know what it feels like to win now and that’s the hard part to get back to the point where you know what it’s like,” Twinem said. “So, I think the fact that they've tasted victory and they know what it takes to get to this.”

Twinem and her Bruins were visibly emotional on the pool deck after jumping in the water together because it’s been such a long road for them to get back to the top of the league.

“It’s pure joy,” Twinem said. “I’ve been waiting six years. The girls got it back. I don’t want this moment to end. Because you just don’t know what will happen next year. So we have to enjoy it while we have it and not take it for granted.”

The CIF Southern Section finals are May 2-7.

Complete Varsity Results:

200 Medley Relay: Wilson (1:52.75 - Marr, Daues, Park, K. O’Dea)

200 Free: Sammie Hamilton, Wilson (1:51.83)

200 Individual Medley: Sofia Brys, Poly (2:12.89)

50 Free: Maya O’Dea, Wilson (24.99)

100 Butterfly: Sofia Brys, Poly (59.81)

100 Free: Zoe Grover, Wilson (53.96)

500 Free: Sammie Hamilton, Wilson (4:59.23)

200 Free Relay: Wilson (1:38.60 - M. O’Dea, K. O’Dea, Grover, Hamilton)

100 Backstroke: Kylie Montiel, Millikan (59.83)

100 Breaststroke: Chelsea Park, Wilson (1:10.88)

400 Free Relay: Wilson (3:37.30 - Marr, Hamilton, M. O’Dea, Grover)

Team Finish:

Wilson - 564

Poly - 521

Millikan - 252

Lakewood - 173

Jordan - 75

VIDEO: Moore League Girls’ Swimming Finals
PHOTOS: Moore League Girls’ Swim Finals
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
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