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The Pioneers' girls edged Clackamas 445-441, and the Cavaliers' boys defeated David Douglas 368-358 at Saturday's finals

REVIEW/NEWS PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Oregon City's 200 medley relay team of (left to right) Jane Shroufe, Olivia Watt, Samantha Brich and Jackalyn James set the pace in the opening event at Saturday's Mt. Hood Conference finals.Oregon City's Jane Shroufe won two individual events and swam a leg on two of Oregon City's three winning relay teams as the Pioneers' girls' swim team clinched the Mt. Hood Conference district title Saturday, edging defending-champion Clackamas 445-441 at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

On the boys' side, Clackamas' Owen Ngan won the 500-yard freestyle and finished second in the 200 individual medley, and Scott Visscher anchored Clackamas' 200 freestyle relay to a win, helping the Cavaliers clinch a fourth consecutive district championship with a 368-358 victory over David Douglas.

The girls' team race came down to the night's final event - the 400 freestyle relay - which saw Oregon City's quartet of Grace Zarosinski, Grace Gunderson, Jackalyn James and Shroufe winning in 3 minutes, 44.68 seconds, followed by Clackamas in 3:51.02.

"It was a real nail-biter," Pioneers coach Bryan Watt said. "I think everybody knew whoever won the last event was going to win the meet, so it was easily one of the best and most exciting moments for me as a coach.

"We got the lead in the relay immediately and we held the lead the whole time, but it was close until the last leg."

Oregon City had been tabbed as the pre-meet favorite to win the girls' title, but the Pioneers lost a significant edge when Sophie Norgart, Anna Pullella and Louisa Rux came down with the flu and were scratched before Friday's preliminaries.

"Every team has its trials, and ours was we had three girls that would have had six spots in either the A or B finals not swimming because of the flu," Watt said. "I held out hoping that we could still win, knowing that it was going to be close even if we'd had those girls."

Clackamas' girls managed to put four swimmers into either the A or B finals in all eight individual events, while Oregon City was missing two potential finalists in the 200 freestyle, two in the 100 backstroke, one in the 100 breaststroke, and one in the 100 butterfly.

Oregon City and Clackamas finished 1-2 in all three relays, with the Pioneers picking up 40 team points for each relay win to the Cavaliers' 34 team points. The net result was a combined 18-point edge for Oregon City.

The Pioneers also scored big in the 200 individual medley as Shroufe won in 2:12.22, followed by teammates Sidney Chan-Orcutt in second and James in fifth, racking up 54 points to Clackamas' 29 for a 6-9-11-16 finish.

Shroufe, a freshman, also won the 100 breaststroke, while Pioneers' senior Samantha Brich finished first in the 50 freestyle.

Clackamas' Talia Caldwell won both the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, and Emma Gould picked up wins in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Amber Suh added a second-place finish in the 500 freestyle, and Fara Jeffs was third in the 100 backstroke for the Cavaliers.

Making waves

A key turning point in the boys' district meet came in the 500 freestyle as Ngan of Clackamas swam alongside Central Catholic's Alex Hatzikos the entire way before slipping in front by half a body length at the bell lap. Both swimmers picked up the tempo over the final 50 yards, but Ngan got the better of it and won by a full body length.

"I saw him go out kind of fast and with 300 to go I started chasing him," Ngan said. "I wasn't sure I'd be able to catch him at first, but I heard my teammates screaming every time I got to one of the walls and went for it."

Ngan is a right-side swimmer, which had him facing away from Hatzikos.

"I wasn't looking at where he was, I was swimming blind, but I just kept going because you never know when someone might sneak up on you," Ngan said.

Clackamas followed that up with another photo-finish win in the 200 freestyle relay, battling among the leaders the whole way but splashing into the water behind two other teams to start the anchor leg. Scott Visscher quickly overtook Reynolds and was a whisker behind David Douglas at the final flip turn. That's where he got his winning push.

"I got a good one today, and I could feel myself pulling in front," Visscher said.

He maintained a slim lead to the wall and touched in 23-hundredths of a second in front for the pivotal relay win.

"I knew I couldn't hold anything back, so I put my all into it," Visscher said. "Getting that relay win was a tipping point."

Clackamas' Max Larson finished second in the 100 butterfly, Max Tackett was third in the 200 IM, and Mitchell Hopper was fourth in the 100 backstroke — each qualifying for this week's OSAA Class 6A swimming state championships beginning Friday at Mt. Hood Community College.

Oregon City sprinter Ian Watt also qualified for state in two events after finishing second in the 50 freestyle in 22.17 and finishing second in the 100 freestyle in 49.26, both times personal bests.

— From staff reports

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