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Thai taking Falcons even further

From freshman phenom to super sophomore, Harrison Thai continues to deliver for Crescenta Valley

May 12, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

As its march toward the CIF finals continues, the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team enters Friday's CIF Southern Section Division II preliminaries on the heels of obliterating the Pacific League record book at the league championship meet May 5.

Sophomore Harrison Thai either broke or had a hand in breaking three of the seven marks the team set that day at Burbank High, and he says the Falcons are just getting started.

"We just wanted to see how fast we could go," says Thai, who, along with sophomore Young Tae Seo and junior Louis Wojciechowski, comprises the core of perhaps the deepest and most talent-laden squad the history-rich Falcons program has ever had. "There were some pretty impressive times, but I know Young Tae and Louis could go way faster than that and I'm confident I could drop a little more, too.

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"It feels good going this fast and we're pretty confident going into CIF."

Since arriving on campus as a freshman last year, Thai has been recognized as the kind of marquee athlete that could ultimately propel the Falcons to their first CIF title in over 11 years, based largely on his reputation as a top-level youth swimmer with the Crescenta-Canada YMCA club program. He foreshadowed that promise with a breakout performance at the 2010 Division II finals at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach, where Crescenta Valley finished runner-up behind Oaks Christian.

He was third in the 100-yard backstroke in 51.73 seconds and came .19 seconds away from a win in the 100 breaststroke with his time of 58.29. But those swims were key in pushing the Falcons into second place and good enough to qualify him for the Masters Meet in both events.

"Last year it was a completely different feeling, it was different from anything I've ever felt," Thai says of making his CIF debut. "I was really, really focused, more than I ever have before. Everything came together, it felt great. Hopefully I can repeat the success that I had last year."

For some, such a postseason might qualify as the pinnacle of a high school career. From Thai's point of view, it's a nice beginning.

The No. 1 seed in the 200-individual medley and the 100 backstroke, Thai is looking to take the next step and become a CIF champion this year, while also providing a spark for some of the Falcons' top-seeded relays. And, who knows what other surprises could be in store?

"Honestly, I think he can break the [Division II] record for the 100 backstroke," Wojciechowski says.

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