Jesuit takes latest chapter of Metro League swimming rivalry with Sunset

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Jesuit girls swim team celebrates its decisive 400 free relay win over Sunset on Thursday. The victory gave the Crusaders a narrow lead against the Apollos.

Good, healthy, occasionally friendly antagonism never fails to bring the best effort and initiative out of longtime rivals.

The Sunset and Jesuit girls' swim teams go way back to their days of youth swimming and, nowadays oftentimes square off on the club circuit during the spring and summer. In the past half decade, the two powers' lengthy past has come out in the Crusaders' favor, though if Thursday's dual meet is any indication, change could soon be just around the corner.

Swimming in the presence of a brimming, capacity crowd at the Beaverton Swim Center on Thursday, Jesuit just got past Sunset by winning the 400 relay with the foursome of Erin Perry, Zofia Zdanowicz, Emily Cook and Megan Harper in the final event of the day for the 88-82 win. The competition between the two schools bred a boisterous, knockabout match that took individual's times and places to new parallels.

“We're always chatting behind the blocks, chilling, having fun, cracking jokes,” said Perry of the Jesuit-Sunset rivalry. “It was a good time today. I love seeing the excitement. I love seeing kids cheer each other on. It was so much fun because of the atmosphere we created today.”

“The competitive atmosphere just made you want to go so much harder and do everything to the best of your ability,” added Jesuit's Amy Piercy. “It was really good to go out there and compete. The races were really stressful, but they were fun. We were trying to go out there and do our best. It was fun to go out there and race great swimmers.”

Sunset had a puncher's chance going into the 400 free relay, though Hailey Fellows, Nina Stitt, Megan Lam and Kate Westlake came just an eyelash shy of jettisoning Jesuit. The Apollos, however, left the pool on Thursday confident they'll be ready for the rematch at the Metro League district meet Feb. 15-16 and state competition Feb. 22-23.

“We can't put ourselves out of it mentally,” said Lam. “There's something about Jesuit. Everybody's like, 'Ooh it's Jesuit,' but really they're not that much better than us. I wouldn't even say they're better than us. I'd say it's pretty equal. Hopefully, we can beat Jesuit at state. I think we can do it.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuits Erin Cook won the 50 freestyle for the Crusader girls swim team against Sunset on Thursday.

Personal record

Piercy took second to teammate Zofia Zdanowicz in the 500 free and won the 200 individual medley. Her 200 IM was only a second away from a career best, while the 500 free finish was a seasonal personal record.

“We knew gong in that we had to go out there and do the best of our ability,” said Piercy. “We wanted to give everything we had for the team and pick up points. It felt good that we went out there and did what we were supposed to do.”

Perry was second in the 50 free behind her fellow sophomore mate Cook and placed third in the 100 free behind Cook and Sunset's Westlake. Both races transpired without a hitch. Perry said Sunset's talent helped force a pair of personal bests.

“It pushed me so hard,” said Perry. “I was huffing and puffing behind the blocks because I was so tired. It was really good competition because Jesuit and Sunset just push each other so hard and make each other better swimmers. I think we're doing really well as a team. We're on the right track, getting ready for state.”

With first place in the Metro League on the line, each school brought big followings of fans who created a district meet-like atmosphere in the bijou-sized center. Both the boys' and girls' teams could be seen screaming and chanting for their teammates on the side of the pool. And while the competitors said you can't hear anything under water, one could sense the magnitude and intensity of the outlying surroundings.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Megan Lam won two events for the Apollos, including the 100 butterfly.

“With all the energy going around, it was so much fun,” said Harper. “It's nice to know it's a team effort when we're out there, especially when everyone's cheering. It really reinforces that we're doing it for the team. The Sunset girls are so sweet. They congratulate us and give us hugs. It's competitive, but it's a friendly competitive.”

“It was definitely the best dual meet, by far,” said Lam. “Everyone on Jesuit and Sunset knows each other. It was so loud in there. It gets you excited and ready to swim fast.”

“I think we did as well as we could. It was close and fun,” added Sunset's Angela Liu.“The noise gets you pumped up. It was really exciting.”

Channeling energy

Harper won the 200 freestyle and got second in the 100 backstroke behind Lam. In some ways, the senior captain said racing Sunset was like looking in the mirror. Both teams sported enough talented individuals and relay squads to the point that each race was close and contending.

“I had people to race, and that definitely helps,” said Harper. “It was a stressful meet because we knew it'd be really close. You just have to focus on channeling that energy into something positive and bring it into the race.”

Liu beat Harper in the 100 backstroke and took second in the 100 fly. Sunset's wherewithal to put versatile swimmers in various events and still succeed stands out to Lam and Liu.

“I wasn't sure how the backstroke was going to go, but I was able to beat (Harper),” said Liu. “That was fun, and I'm friends with her. I was really tired, but I just wanted to win, so I went for it. I made sure I was doing lots of dolphin kicks, going fast.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Angela Liu won the 200 individual medley for the Apollos on Thursday at the Beaverton Swim Center.

Lam won both the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley. Nervous prior to the race because she was unsure of who would be lining up next to her, she was the first girl to put aside the butterflies.

“I just went for it and swam hard,” said Lam.

Jesuit moved to 5-0 in the Metro League with the win. Sunset is now 3-2. Both teams have one regular season dual meet remaining before districts.

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