Both schools have long title droughts ready to end
Feb. 14, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
After three straight titles by Jesuit and more than two decades away from the top step on the finals podium, the Lake Oswego girls swim team might be the team to beat as the state championships approach.
With all three relay teams qualified - two of them seeded first, and a 1-2 combination in the 500 yard freestyle, the Lakers are ready to win their first title since 1990.
St. Mary’s has the same goal, and an even longer wait to overcome - 1988. The Blues have also qualified three relay teams and have a solid individual crew.
Jesuit qualified all three of its relay teams and has 11 individual qualifiers, which won’t make a title run by Lake Oswego or St. Mary’s an easy one.
A win by the Lakers would be an amazing turnaround from a year ago when the team finished 13th and no one placed higher than fifth in an individual event. The team’s revival can be traced to the Lake Oswego Swim Club and sophomore Sarah Kaunitz.
Kaunitz is the top qualifier in the 200 individual medley and also the 100 breaststroke, with senior Catherine Yee seeded second. Neither competed for Lake Oswego at state last year.
St. Mary’s senior Elena Basada is seeded first in the 100 backstroke and second in the 200 IM.
Jesuit ran away with the meet last year, outscoring second-place Southridge 183-118. St. Mary’s finished fifth with 84 points. Lake Oswego scored 41 points.
The Crusaders graduated several seniors, but still have a solid roster led by senior Kori Carpenter, who qualified third in the 200 freestyle and junior Blaise Wittenhauer-Lee, who qualified first in the 500 freestyle.
Jesuit finished second or third in all three relays last year, but that role might be one for the Lakers this season.
David Douglas and Newberg also qualified all three of their relay teams.
Century freshman Ellie Thornbrue qualified first in two events and classmate Logan Neal qualified first in one and fourth in another to give the Jaguars a solid shot at a top-4 finish - likely the first of a long run.
Last year, the Sunset boys swim team entered the Class 6A state championships as a slight underdog to win the team race. But they did, finishing ahead of defending champion Grant, 46 years after the school’s first title.
This year, Sunset is a clear favorite to win.
The Apollos are coming off a dominant performance in the Metro League district meet and will carry that momentum into the state meet that begins Friday at Mt. Hood Community College.
Cameron Stitt, last year’s star for Sunset, will be looked upon to help carry the Apollos again.
Stitt broke a district meet record in the 500 yard freestyle and also earned All-American consideration with his win in the 200 freestyle. He posted the top qualifying times in both events for the state meet.
“Everyone’s doing really well so it’s looking good,” Stitt said after Saturday’s district finals. “If we do well we definitely have a good chance of winning it.”
Teammate Cole Hurwitz also had a stellar district meet, breaking a district record in the 100 breaststroke and placing first in the 200 individual medley.
Hurwitz edged his brother Jordan and teammate Kasey Kwong in the breaststroke, one of the team’s most competitive events in practices. “We have a lot of great breaststrokers,” he said, “so it’s always kind of a dog fight to see who gets first.
“Getting a lot of people back into state – like 1, 2 or 1, 2, 3 – in a lot of events shows we are going to have a lot of depth.”
Although the district meet proved successful for the Apollos, that doesn’t mean guaranteed success in the state event.
“We have to be smart,” said Jonathon Zoucha, a member of two of the winning relays. “Cooling down and making sure you swim fast in the prelims to make sure you make it to the finals.”
Zoucha also qualified with the third fastest time in 6A in the 500 freestyle.
Sunset was able to qualify into three relays for the state meet and coach Adam Farber pointed to that as a major key for their chance at a repeat.
“Last year we had two so that should be a big help,” Farber said.
Sunset qualified second, behind Tualatin, in the 200 medley relay and second in the 400 freestyle behind McMinnville.
After his team’s domination in the district meet, a meet they didn’t win last year entering the state finals, Farber said his team’s confidence is ready to power it to a repeat.
“We have some guys that are real strong and are going to sit at the top in anything they do,” he said. “We’re looking to do well.”
SUNSET CLAIMS METRO LEAGUE TITLE
The Sunset boys and Jesuit girls swam away with 2012 Metro 6A-1 district swimming titles on Saturday afternoon.
Sunset, the defending boys state champs, earned 435 points, nearly 100 points ahead of second place Jesuit.
Cameron Stitt and Cole Hurwitz came up big for the Apollos as each earned two individual victories and two relay victories.
Stitt took a first in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle and earned All-American consideration for both. Stitt broke the meet record in the 500 freestyle with a time, 4:32.39, more than two second faster than the previous record.
Hurwitz also broke a meet record with his first place finish in the 100 yard breaststroke. Hurwitz also took first in the 200 individual medley. Stitt and Hurwitz were both members of the 400 free and 200 medley teams that took first place finishes for Sunset.
“I felt pretty good,” Stitt said of his meet record, “but I think when state comes I'll be able to drop even more time.”
The state meet record in the 500 freestyle, set by Alex Stiles of Lincoln at 4:27.33, is the oldest one left for boys or girls having survived since 1984.
Hurwitz's response to the record was nearly the same as Stitt's. “It feels pretty good,” he said. “I was close last year so it was good to finally get it.”
Jonathan Zoucha and Jordan Hurwitz were the other two members in the winning relays for Sunset. Zoucha also earned a victory in the 100 yard free.
Max Yakubovich of Southridge swam to victories in the 100 yard backstroke and 100 yard butterfly.
Jesuit's Blaise Wittenauer-Lee was the big performer on the girls side as she helped lead the Crusaders, the defending state champions, to the team victory. Wittenauer-Lee picked up individual wins in the 500 yard freestyle and 200 IM. She was also a member of the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams that picked up first place finishes.
Sunset's Lotta Novotny earned wins in the 200 and 100 freestyle.
“Excitement. It was a lot of fun to watch,” Sunset coach Adam Farber said after the meet was complete. “It was nice to see us step up and get this meet.”
Grant's performance two years ago sparks its title hopes
Feb. 14, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Heading into the state swim championships, the Grant High team has a good idea of where it’ll wind up on Saturday: somewhere in the top four where it’ll take home a trophy.
Earning a trophy would be three years in a row for the Generals.
But, Grant has been in this situation before, and stunned the state and themselves by winning the Class 6A meet in 2010 with just five swimmers. Last year, the team finished second.
If fate were to suddenly step in Saturday and hit the heavily favored Sunset Apollos, Grant might just be the team to take advantage like it did two years ago and pull off another stunning victory.
“Sunset would have to be considered the favorite, but as we’ve seen from two years ago, anything can happen,” says Will Tyrrell, one of Grant’s three seniors. “This is definitely a sport where anything can happen. People have good days, bad days and people get disqualified. “Relays get disqualified. That’s a big thing for scoring.”
Sunset enters the meet as the defending champion and favorite having qualified three relay teams to go with two-event favorite Cameron Stitt. Stitt, a junior, narrowly missed the All-American qualifying time in the 500 freestyle at the Metro League district meet Saturday. Teammate Cole Hurwitz, another junior, is an event favorite as well.
Tyrrell and fellow seniors Henry Fellows and Kevin Wallin are key members of the Grant squad that finished second last year to Sunset. Fellows excels in the 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
Tyrrell excels in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke and Wallin qualified in the 100 breaststroke.
The trio of seniors were members of the 200 medley relay team that set the Class 6A meet record last year, which remains a sign the Generals have big meet potential.
They’re definitely going to need that this weekend to beat the Apollos, who have more individual qualifiers and qualified three relay teams. Grant would be a surprise winner Saturday, but that’s how the title happened in 2010. Meet favorite Roseburg lost its 200 medley relay team to disqualification in the opening event of the finals and the potential 32 points that go to the winner. Grant won the event and finished four points ahead of Newberg in the final standings.
“After prelims, we looked at the results and thought maybe we’d be top 3,” Tyrrell said. “Then halfway through the finals we looked and were in first place. That’s when we thought, hey we could win this.”
Roseburg finished fifth with 85 points. If the Indians had finished fourth in the relay, they would have won.
“All of the pieces fell into place,” Fellows said. “Before the final race, 400 free relay, (coach Laura Tyrrell) told us if we finished fourth, we’d win state.”
Grant finished fourth, with Fellows rallying from fifth on the final leg.
Tyrrell, Fellows and Wallin have been teammates through high school, although Wallin missed the 2010 meet due to injury. He suffers from tendinitis in his shoulders and has daily treatment. But, he’s qualified in the breaststroke.
For the Generals to win, the entire team will need to swim at personal best levels, especially in events that include Sunset swimmers.
“We all want to win our events, but the challenge is finishing second and third,” Fellows says, “that’s where the key points come from.”
And, of course, something unforeseen would need to happen to Sunset’s line-up.
“Sunset is going to have to swim well,” Fellows says. “We’re going to be right there. “If anything happens to them, we’ll be ready to squeak in.”