GIRLS' SWIMMING DAILY NEWS ALL-AREA TEAM AND HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SEASON.
SWIMMER OF THE YEAR
Oaks Christian, Junior
No matter what happens the rest of her career, Brett Shiflett always will enjoy the distinction of being the original member of the Oaks Christian High of Westlake Village swim team, as well as the first swimmer from the school to win a section title.
As a freshman, Shiflett had to compete as a freelancer, driving with her mother to meets at Rio Mesa of Oxnard when Oaks Christian was unable to field a team. But it didn't stop her from winning championships in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Now a junior, Shiflett has continued to set the standard while the Oaks Christian program has grown nearly 70 swimmers strong. She shattered two Southern Section Div. IV championship records this season in winning the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
``My freshman year nobody really knew what I was doing,'' said Shiflett, a three-time All-Area selection who is this year's Daily News Girls' Swimmer of the Year. ``This year, everyone at school was coming up and talking to me. They were all, like, `Oh my gosh.' ''
Both of Shiflett's times ranked in the top 50 nationally among high school swimmers. Most remarkably, her times would have put her in the top four in each event had Shiflett swam in the ultracompetitive section Div. I meet.
She earned NISCA/All-American honors in both races. They came after a trying year in which Shiflett's father, Stephen, died of a heart attack Oct. 24. Shiflett also was still recovering from a knee injury she suffered last basketball season.
``People at Oaks don't realize how dominant Brett is,'' coach David Moore said. ``What's so wonderful is that the kids on the swim team get so irritated with people when they don't give Brett her due. Brett won't say anything. But they will.''
Shiflett will spend the summer training with her club team, Class Aquatics, in preparation for the U.S. Open in December.
Oak Park, Senior
After competing for three years as a freelancer, Cheng's persistence paid off. She won the Div. IV 100 freestyle and finished second in the 100 backstroke, remarkable accomplishments considering Oak Park does not field a swimming team. Cheng, however, will have a team to call home next year at Penn State.
Creek narrowly missed out on capping her high school career with a section championship, finishing second in the Div. II 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. But her season was defined well before that when Creek decided to take a red-eye flight home from the national championships to compete at the Royal Invitational. Creek won two races to leave a perfect 8-0 in four years at her home meet.
La Canada, Sophomore
More than a month afterward, Boosalis said she thinks of her sensational race with Royal of Simi Valley's Christine Creek in the Div. II 100 breaststroke. Boosalis prevailed by 0.05 seconds and her time of 1:04.00 was eighth best in the nation by a high school swimmer this season. She also finished fourth in the 200 individual medley.
Thousand Oaks, Fr.
Only 14, Gyuris took the swimming community by storm in her freshman year, winning the Div. II 100 freestyle and taking second in the 200 freestyle. She also won two Marmonte League championships. Gyuris will swim this summer at the Hungarian junior nationals with the hope of competing for the country in the 2004 Olympics.
Viveros was one of the season's sharpest performers. She took fourth in the Div. I 100 butterfly and eighth in the 100 backstroke as Alemany of Mission Hills finished 25th in the final girls' team standings.
Viveros also won both events at the Mission League championships.
Patterson enjoyed a far better section championships meet this year than last, when she suffered food poisoning before preliminaries. She finished eighth in the Div. I 200 individual medley and sixth in the 100 breaststroke. Patterson also shattered the Foothill League finals record in the IM.
Kumaus made history as the first Antelope Valley area girl to win a section championship. She did it twice, in fact, shaking off the flu to win the Div. IV 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Kumaus drove round-trip to Santa Clarita six days a week to train with her club team and will swim next season at UC Irvine.
Along with the rest of the Wolverines team, Merz made the jump to Div. I this season. She took third in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and trains with Palisades YMCA in West Los Angeles. Merz also anchored two relays in the finals.
Coach of the Year
JIM KLIPFEL Saugus
As he has the past couple of years, Saugus High swimming coach Jim Klipfel started out the season by adopting a motto for his Centurions team. He chose the Japanese word Kaizen, meaning a commitment to continuous improvement, and put it on everything from T-shirts to newsletters.
The same word could just as easily apply to the Saugus program during Klipfel's eight-year tenure at the school. And the Centurions capped their rise this season, when they handed the Hart of Newhall girls their first-ever Foothill League loss in April.
``My philosophy is that you've got to have a program that entices kids to keep going,'' said Klipfel, whose team ended a 20-year streak of league dual meet victories by Hart. ``And you have to have a program that keeps them constantly improving.''
Klipfel had a team filled with standouts, including senior Lauren Kristensen and sophomore Lizette Patterson. But the coach also put a premium on all his swimmers, no matter the ability level, achieving what Klipfel calls ``lifetime best times'' at every meet.
Katherine Azar, Royal, Sr.; Tatiana Blankenship, Notre Dame, So.; Jessica Chen, El Camino Real, So.; Lauren Kristensen, Saugus, Sr.; Shannon McCarthy, Hart, Jr.; Jenny Modglin, Royal, Jr.; Christa Ratcliff, Quartz Hill, Jr.; Chungah Rhee, Cleveland, Fr.; Lindsay Taylor, Crescenta Valley, Sr.; Jennifer Webb, Quartz Hill, Sr.; Christine Zimmer, Camarillo, Jr.
Race of the Year
Everything was on the line in April when Cleveland of Reseda freshman Chungah Rhee lined up to swim against El Camino Real of Woodland Hills sophomore Jessica Chen in the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay. The meet was tied, Cleveland held a narrow lead in the afternoon's last event and Rhee was more than nervous. But Rhee outdueled Chen to win the race and give her team its first victory over El Camino Real in school history. Cleveland later won the City title in the relay, with Rhee again the anchor.
History was made in the Foothill League on April 2 as Saugus handed the Hart girls their first dual-meet loss since joining the league 20 years ago. It wasn't so much a surprise - Saugus coach Jim Klipfel had heard his swimmers and parents discussing the possibility since the start of the season. But it was stunning. Hart followed that a week later by defeating Valencia by only 10 points in the closest meet ever between the schools.
Harvard-Westlake of Studio City coach Darlene Bible believed her team had a chance of winning the Div. II team title this season. But with the decision by section officials to move up the Foothill, Mission and Pacific League schools to Div. I, Bible's team instead had to settle for fifth place behind four larger schools from Orange County. There isn't much recourse, either: Harvard-Westlake is due to stay in Div. I for at least another three seasons.
Maryann Boosalis (La Canada)
Vanda Gyuris (Thousand Oaks)
Genie Cheng (Oak Park)
200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke
Michele Kumaus (Highland)
200 freestyle, 100 butterfly
Brett Shiflett (Oaks Christian)
200 medley relay
Sarah Colvin, Christa Ratcliff, Jessie Neal, Jennifer Webb (Quartz Hill)
Hitomi Aihara (Granada Hills)
Jessica Chen (El Camino Real)
Hanna Kim (Kennedy)
200 individual medley, 500 freestyle
Chungah Rhee (Cleveland)
200 medley relay
Madison McGee, Nicole Shattuck, Janene Dater, Jennifer Chen (El Camino Real)
400 freestyle relay.
Patra Julimasustra, Sarah Aboody, Deborah Hefter, Chungah Rhee (Cleveland)
Golden: Quartz Hill
East Valley: Granada Hills
West Valley: Cleveland
A Look Ahead
FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
The only number you need to know: 84 returning swimmers.
With Rhee returning, could challenge Palisades for City title.
3. Quartz Hill
Only loses one swimmer from second-place team in Div. IV.
Eight relay spots belonged to underclassmen, including Merz.
Trio of Patterson, Kalie Boggio and Melissa Bowers is tough.
FIVE SWIMMERS TO WATCH
1. Sarah Colvin, Quartz Hill, So.
Will be Golden League's top swimmer for two years to come.
2. Chungah Rhee, Cleveland, Fr.
Could leave with eight City titles in four years.
3. Roxanne Camuso, Canyon, Fr.
Helped put Canyon swimming on Foothill League radar.
4. Michelle Kroll, Valencia, Fr.
Don't expect Kroll ever to be the first alternate at finals again.
5. Ashley Min, Flintridge Prep, Fr.
Will be one of the top sprinters in Div. III next season.
11 photos, 3 boxes
(1 -- 2 -- color) BRETT SHIFLETT
(3 -- color) GENIE CHENG
(4 -- color) CHRISTINE CREEK
(5 -- color) MARYANN BOOSALIS
(6 -- color) VANDA GYURIS
(7 -- color) RENEE VIVEROS
(8 -- color) LIZETTE PATTERSON
(9 -- color) MICHELE KUMAUS
(10 -- color) ALEXA MERZ
(11 -- color) JIM KLIPFEL
(1) League champions (see text)
(2) Final Top 10 (see text)
(3) A Look Ahead (see text)