by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge freshman swimmer Caitlyn Wilson took second in the 500 free at the 6A state championships on Saturday. Wilson was also 5th in the 200 free.

Wait until next year.

With so many underclassmen filling the 6A state girls’ swimming championship meet program and tons of young studs coming back next year who competed this year in the ‘A’ finals, that sentiment can be taken to the bank when it comes to the Metro League.

For the first time in a decade Metro didn’t produce a state-title winning team or individual champion, possibly due to the overall youth of the conference and the prowess of the state’s upperclassmen.

Yet, the league still stood strong at Mount Hood Community College on Saturday, with Sunset taking fourth, Jesuit placing fifth, Southridge taking seventh and Westview eighth.

“Going in we knew there were going to be a lot of fast teams swimming,” said Sunset junior Emily Cheng. “Overall I thought we did better than expected.”

Sunset’s swimmers agreed taking Jesuit as a team for the second time in two weeks was comparable, if not better than winning state itself.

“It’s just so exciting to go out and beat Jesuit,” said Sunset senior Hailey Fellows. “We wanted this for so long, to beat them, so it’s just great for our whole team. Being a senior, I wanted to do better than I did last year for my team, and I was able to do that.”

Senior Nina Stitt staked claim to fifth in the 200 free (1:56.78) and seventh in the 100 breast at 1:07.85. Stitt was also part of the 400 free relay that placed fifth (3:37).

“I was really excited about how we all came together,” said Stitt. “We knew it was going to be really close. The girls and guys both banded together and competed really well. We were really excited and just had fun the whole time.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Megan Lam placed fourth in the 200 individual medley to help the Apollos take fourth as a team the 6A state championships.

One of Stitt’s biggest contributions to Sunset’s success, other than her great individual times and senior leadership was her recruiting efforts to bring Megan Lam out to swim for the Apollos this season. A junior who exclusively swam club the past two seasons, Lam wasn’t sure she wanted to join Sunset after moving over from Aloha for academic reasons. That changed when Stitt approached Lam in the fall and urged her classmate to go out for the team. Positive peer pressure and a little old-fashioned goading brought Lam out to a team that wasn’t desperate for talent by any means, but needed that little push to get over Jesuit.

“It was the power of persuasion and a few bits of hitting too,” said Stitt with a laugh. “It was mostly me and (Cheng) telling her swimming was really fun.”

Lam swam deftly all season, winning an individual district title while helping two of the Apollos’ relays take first at districts as well. At state, Lam was fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:08) and helped the medley relay squad of Stitt, Cheng and Angela Liu placed third.

“High school swimming is a lot more team oriented,” said Lam. “You don’t really keep track of team points as much in club. The meets were smaller and shorter, but I had a lot of fun.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset junior Emily Cheng placed second in the 200 freestyle for the Apollos, who took fourth overall at the 6A state championships on Saturday.

Cheng had one of the more bizarre 200 free finishes you’ll see during the girls’ first individual race of the day. Swimming against Century’s Ellie Thornbrue, Cheng took out an early lead that the Jaguar junior was able to overcome on the second 100 yards of the race. Thornbrue finished ahead of Cheng at the wall by about a head length, but when the results flashed on the scoreboard, Cheng had a “one” to the left of her name instead of a “two” to signal second place. Eventually, the mishap was cleared up and Thornbrue was awarded the first place medal. Still, Cheng said it was a somewhat strange way to score big team points for the Apollos and notch a season’s best in the 200 (1:51).

“I guess (Thornbrue) didn’t hit the (time stopping) pad hard enough,” said Cheng. “When I finished, I thought she’d won so I was really confused, like ‘What’s going on?’. I wouldn’t have been surprised either way, but it was hard to say. You’re at the end of the race, you’re tired. You just want to get to the wall.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit freshman Emily Cook made the A finals in both the 50 and 100 freestyle for the Crusaders.

Jesuit freshman Emily Cook acknowledged she was a little bit nervous before and even during her 50 and 100 free races, being that it was her first ‘A’ finals on the state level. The butterflies didn’t seem to hold back Cook’s effort, however, as the Crusader took sixth in the 50 free (24.29) and fifth in the 100 free (52.74).

“It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it’s still been a lot of fun swimming with all the energy here,” said Cook. “Everyone’s going really fast, so it’s fun to watch. There’s been a lot of energy. Everyone’s cheering and is really excited.”

Cook was also part of the Jesuit 200 and 400 relay teams that took third. Erin Perry, Kenna Holt, Megan Harper and Zofia Zdanowicz were on the 200 relay squad that posted a 1:40.25. Harper, Zdanowicz, and Perry joined Cook on the 400 (3:36) unit.

“I was trying to go as fast as I could, working on my technique, trying to keep up with the rest of the girls,” said Cook. “You just have to take it out hard. You can’t hold anything back. You just have to go for it.”

Jesuit’s 200 medley relay of Harper, Hold, Perry and Zdanowicz placed second for the Crusaders to start off the meet with 24 team points.

“Everyone did really well and tried their best,” said Cook. “I’m excited about the future. I’m hoping next year or even the year after that, we can pull a lot more points and pull ahead.”

A recent change to her form helped Westview’s Tiffany Zhao take fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.52) and eighth in the 50 free (24.32). Changing the timing of her breaststroke by easing the actions rather than hurrying them, helped Zhao smooth out across the pool and eat more space.

“I tend to overush my stroke,” said Zhao. “So, I tried to lengthen it so I could rip more water instead of slipping. I definitely went a little slower, but it went well.”

The breaststroke field was fast and though the Wildcat junior said she didn’t swim her “perfect race”, placing in the top-five for the second time in her career was still a great accomplishment.

“This is just so exciting,” said Zhao. “I like state because I feel like I have so much more fun. It’s less stress. There’s not that much pressure. It’s more of team bonding experience.”

Zhao, Laila Kayfes, Sophia Zhou and Vivian Hua clinched sixth place state medals with a 3:41 finish in the 400 relay.

“Every single girl on my team did amazing today,” said Zhao. “We were all cheering each other on and having fun. We’re not so much concerned with our time as just having fun and swimming fast. This season has just made me so much more excited for next year.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha freshman Jordan Ashmore took fourth in the 100 backstroke and the seventh in the 50 free in her state championship debut on Saturday.

Jordan Ashmore was Aloha’s lone state competing wolf, representing Warrior Pride by herself in the 50 free and 100 backstroke. The promising freshman swam to the finals in each race, swimming a 24.16 for seventh in the 50 free and 57.58 in the 100 back.

“I didn’t go as fast as I wanted, but I’m happy to have made it as a freshman,” said Ashmore. “I’ve been told that doesn’t happen very often, so that’s cool. For my 100 back, I just need to practice getting underwater more. The 50 free was pretty fast. I only breathed once.”

Ashmore said she took the whole state experience on both days of state, learning small stroke nuances like how to attack the turns from other competitors while watching how they prepare both mentally and physically.

A great club swimmer who has three years to go of high school swimming, Ashmore doesn’t like “being her own judge”. She wants to succeed and do well in the future of course, but Ashmore is content with letting others do the talking for her.

“I like having other people sing my praises because I feel like if you do it yourself, you’re boasting about something you might not have,” said Ashmore.

Southridge freshman Caitlyn Wilson laid the foundation for a sunny future on Saturday, by taking second in the 500 (4:59.57) and third in the 200 (1:52).

Wilson, Alison Engstrom, Stephanie Maeda, and Christin Young placed fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:53).

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