John Criste said days like Saturday really get him excited about high school swimming. For the second time since his decision in November to transfer to Mission Viejo High, the former Saugus standout had the opportunity to race against some familiar faces at the 33rd TYR/Mission Viejo Invitational. “It’s an opportunity to swim against good competition and have a good time on a great day out at the pool,” said Criste, who last competed against area swimmers March 18 at the Southern Section Relays at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach. “It’s really cool to have this kind of atmosphere.” Criste, last year’s Daily News Swimmer of the Year, competed against Oaks Christian of Westlake Village’s Kevin Nielsen the 2005 Newcomer of the Year in the 200-yard individual medley. Criste, a junior, finished second to teammate Andrew Godbe, and Nielsen, a sophomore, was fifth. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventIn the 100 breaststroke, Criste the defending Southern Section Div. I champion won in 56.77 seconds, defeating Godbe and the rest of the competition by more than two seconds. Criste’s fastest time this season came at the American Short Course Championships in Texas in early March, when he clocked 55.95 in the prelims. He was shaved and tapered for that meet but didn’t rest in preparation for Saturday’s competition. “This week, I got worked so hard, especially in dry land, so I was really sore when I woke up Friday morning,” said Criste, who helped defending Southern Section Div. I champion Mission Viejo to a second-place finish in the team competition to reigning North Coast Section champion Campolindo of Moraga. “I just came in wanting to stay afloat. But when Andrew threw down in the 200 IM, I was like, `Great, a race.’ “I got a little back in the 100 breast, but it’s a friendly rivalry. We just push each other to do better.” Criste, who competed against former Foothill League rival Hart at the Southern Section Relays, finished third in the individual high-point standings. Teammate Scott Sorge and Nuview Bridge of Nuevo’s Wil Whaley shared the high-point title after winning two races apiece. Building momentum: If it were up to the swimmers at Hart and Valencia, they wouldn’t wait until May 1 to hold the Foothill League prelims. The intensity created by the teams at Friday’s Santa Clarita Relays suggests this year’s Foothill championship meet could be one of the best in the league’s 24-year history. Valencia’s girls’ team held off Hart 52-45 to repeat as champion, and Hart’s boys survived a late surge by the Vikings to defend their title with a 49-45 victory. “I was impressed with all the kids,” said Hart girls’ coach Gina McCarthy, whose team won the first two events, then watched as Valencia pulled away with five consecutive victories. “If I go to a football game, I want to see a great game and I want to be entertained. I can definitely say that about this meet.” The Vikings handed the Indians two heartbreaking losses, with Megan Machynia holding off Rachael Krager by one one-hundredth of a second in the 200 butterfly relay and Michelle Kroll rallying to defeat Samantha Tamashiro by 0.35 in the 400 free relay. [email protected] (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!