2014-05-15 / Sports
Patriot games: Viewpoint rules league
Boys’ swimmers seal 10th straight league title; girls’ streak at eight
The Patriots aren’t simply an arbitrary collection of studentathletes who gather for practices and meets before scattering like the 12 tribes of Israel into the Diaspora.
Viewpoint savors its traditions: eating at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles after the CIF-Southern Section championship meet every year; spending Hell Week in Hawaii every other season; and boys getting buzz cuts before league finals.
“The football team, the soccer team, the cheer squad—they’re all jealous of us,” junior Allison Hoops said. “There’s a family atmosphere. Everyone wants the best for you. They truly care. We’re one big family. We all support each other.”
Last week, Viewpoint’s boys won their 10th straight league title while the girls captured their eighth consecutive league crown. The titles have come in various league configurations, from Fountain, Liberty and current 12-school Delphic. Winning is only part of the tradition, according to ninthyear head coach Greg Bisheff.
“Success is great, but kids come back for the family atmosphere,” he said. “That’s what they’re drawn to and what keeps them here.”
The Patriots wear the swim cult moniker like Sheriff Bart’s shiny badge from “Blazing Saddles.”
Bisheff credited aquatics director Eliot Saki with building the swim team’s foundation.
Saki’s first team 14 years ago had “four or five boys and six or seven girls,” Bisheff said. The team consistently fields more than 50 swimmers in the program every season.
Marissa Thompson is one of the newest members of Viewpoint’s cult, but she’s already made an indelible impression in the pool.
Thompson, a sophomore in her first season with the Patriots, broke four school records this spring, setting marks in the 50-yard freestyle (24.95 seconds), 100 freestyle (53.75), 200 freestyle (1:58.45) and 200 individual medley (2:12.39). She wants to break another school record, in the 200 relay or 400 relay, before the season ends.
“I’m super excited to go to CIF,” Thompson said.
The sophomore spent last year at the Ursuline School in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“I love it here,” she said. “It’s such a great school filled with great people.”
Gross stands out in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, notching personal best times of 1:11 and 2:13.36, respectively, in the races. She’s shredded five seconds off her 200 freestyle time this spring.
Gross started swimming in the sixth grade with the Calabasas Waves club, which trains at Viewpoint. She’s bound for the University of Washington in the fall, where she’ll study psychology.
Hoops is a leader who has sacrificed her personal success to help the team, Bisheff said.
She’s notched personal-bests in the 100 backstroke (1:03.2), 500 freestyle ( 5: 19.84) and 200 freestyle (2:00.34), which she set in a home win against Calabasas on May 2.
Hoops planned to compete in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay at the section preliminaries.
“It’s exciting to swim against the best of our division,” Hoops said. “It’s exciting to make it there. I get to display what I’ve done all season.”
Hoops is active in the Founder’s Club, and she’s a volunteer with the Math Mentors on campus. She has her name attached to school records in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay from 2013.
Kristen Such, who moved from Texas before her sophomore year, set a Viewpoint record in the girls’ 200 IM (1:09.05) last spring. Such is a focused and intense junior who competes to win.
Michaela Kuelbs, a sophomore who also plays soccer, is one of the team’s fastest sprinters.
Jackie Nowakowski is the most improved Patriot and stars in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Emma Antall (backstroke), Aashna Dev (200 freestyle and 100 butterfly), Sierra Saki (200 and 500 freestyles) and Meera McLane (100 freestyle) are talented juniors.
Jonathan Rose, a senior, established personal-best marks last week in the 100 freestyle (49.65) and 50 freestyle (22.97).
Rose said he savored winning the 400 freestyle relay, the last race of the day, at league finals.
“When our names were called for the last event, we stood together and finished it,” he said. “It was exactly how I wanted to end my four years. CIF is icing on the cake.”
Rose, who is active in the Model U.N. club, Spanish Honors Society and Music Honors Society, moved to California from Connecticut in the seventh grade. He wanted to find a new activity after playing lacrosse for five years, and he started swimming in eighth grade.
He will study political science and history at UC Davis.
“The bonds we’ve made in four years, especially for the senior guys, is special,” Rose said. “We’re a tight-knit group.”
Max Miller is distance specialist. The senior captain thrives in the 200 freestyle (1:55 personal record) and 500 freestyle (5:04). He’s also tackled the mile swim, a 1,650-yard race, which he’s completed in 17: 51, and the 1,000 (10:43) with his club team.
Team goals come first for Miller.
“That’s great to win league 10 years in a row,” he said. “We’re all ecstatic about that.”
Miller said Viewpoint coaches give meticulous attention to detail for meet strategies.
The captain is active with the Teen Activities Council, which provides input for the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival. As a freshman, Miller dressed up in an inflatable pumpkin suit for the festival, taking pictures with kids.
“It was really fun,” he said, “but really hot. It was cool.”
The honors student enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee in the offseason. He will continue swimming at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
Nick Mason, a sophomore, broke a school record in the boys’ 200 IM in 2:02.78, which he set last week at Brentwood during league finals. John Brody, who graduated in 2013, had the 200 IM record for one year.
“It’s really cool,” Mason said. “I wanted that record last year. Now I’m thinking I can go under two minutes.”
Mason’s feat is more impressive because he broke his collarbone during a snowboarding accident at Big Bear in December. Mason missed two months, including the first few weeks of the season, due to the injury.
The Patriot also competes in the 500 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke, and he’s a valuable cog in the 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays.
Mason’s sister, Kayla, owns a school record in the girls’ 500 (5:18.72).
Rose, Miller and Mason helped the Patriot boys beat Calabasas for the first time in school history.
Daniel Shulman is a senior captain from Denmark. The Great Dane, a 200 freestyle and sprint specialist, lost 20 pounds after getting jaw surgery in December. Out of the pool for six weeks, Shulman has regained his strength and found his stride in the water.
Andrew Furash is a senior captain (200 and 500 freestyles). Adam Brainin (sprints) and Ashan Marla (breaststroke) are seniors.
David Berger-Maneiro (butterfl y), Matt Johnston (breaststroke) and Matt Salomons ( 200 and 500 freestyles) are savvy juniors. Jake Jepson (butterfl y and backstroke) is a freshman CIF qualifier.
Annie Stefanec, a former UCLA standout, and Jim Warren are assistant coaches.
“People want to keep coming back because it’s fun,” Gross said. “We’re not in it only for the winning.”