Lakeridge girls step up to grab third at state swimming
Right from the start, right from the opening gun, right from the first event in Saturday's Class 6A state swim championships, the Lakeridge girls swim team proved it belonged.
The Pacers kicked off the second day of the 2018 state championships — held Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center — by winning the 200-yard medley relay and rarely slowed down after that.
By day's end, the Pacers had traded blows with the state's best and held their own, eventually finishing third overall with 158 points. Sunset won the 2018 team title with 207 points, while Jesuit was a close second at 205.5 and South Eugene was well back in fourth at 85.
"Sunset and Jesuit are very spectacular teams," said Lakeridge senior Mara Newman, winner of the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, as well as a member of the Pacers' winning 200 medley relay team. "(The goal was) to kind of stay up there with them, but we're definitely happy with third place as well. Our thought was that we're going to do the best we can and whatever happens, happens."
"It's definitely been fun because the meet this year has been a lot closer," said senior Brynne O'Shea, who swam on two top-five Lakeridge relays and also swam in the 200 and 500 freestyle events. "Everyone's really been competing for it so I'm definitely happy with it."
As to that fast Lakeridge start, the Pacers kicked off Saturday's championship finals by winning the day's first event, the 200 medley relay, with a time of 1 minute, 45.56 seconds. Newman swam the first leg, followed by junior Ellie Jew, senior Katie Manzione and junior Skye Buck, their efforts beating runner-up Jesuit by just .46.
"We were feeling really great (before the race), like all of us were going to swim really fast," said Buck, who's competed throughout the season with a hip injury that required surgery this week. "The girl that swam next to me (Jesuit junior Elise Kreutzer) is usually really fast — she's an amazing swimmer — and I was like, 'Oh shoot. I've got to get ready to swim." (At the end), I didn't know that we'd won. I didn't know until my teammates told me."
"That was really close," Jew added. "It was a tight one."
Next for the Pacers, Jew stepped up to take third place in the 200 individual medley at 2:05.21, where she trailed only West Linn junior Katelyn Laderoute's 2:03.02 and Sunset sophomore Tia Lindsay's 2:05.08.
"I felt pretty good," Jew said. "I knew it was going to be a tough race with Katie and Tia so just going out there was fun. All three of us went to training camp together, we were like best friends there, so having all three of us in the final was really cool."
Two races later, Newman made her first individual foray into the winner's circle, taking top honors in the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 55.53, with Sunset's Lindsay Swail second at 56.21.
"Yeah, it's pretty exciting," said Newman, who will swim next year at UCLA. "I've been second and third the past years of high school to seniors who have been really amazing swimmers so it's really nice that my senior year, I finally come out on top."
That said, it wasn't easy against a talented field like the one that showed up on the second day of the Class 6A state meet.
"The last 25 (yards), I just try to get to the wall and whoever touches first, touches first, I guess," Newman said. "It's kind of hard because once you're at that point, especially butterfly, it's really hard to go fast because I'm just trying to get my arms over my head. I just tried to focus on myself in my own lane and where the wall is."
Next up, Manzione came through to win the B Final in the 500 freestyle at 5:13.94, and the Pacers followed with a third-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay. In the relay, Buck, O'Shea, junior Veronica Hansen and Jew teamed to finish at 1:41.65.
Newman snagged her second win in the next event, the 100 butterfly, racing to victory over Laderoute in a rematch of the Three Rivers League district finale, Newman touching first at 54.62 while Laderoute took second at 55.35.
Closing her high school career with two individual wins, and to do it in a field filled with longtime friends and competitors from other club teams, meant a lot to Newman.
"Most of my friends are here from other teams, other schools, so it was fun to get a chance to compete against them in a high school meet," she said.
Jew cranked out another great individual swim in the 100 breaststroke, racing to second place with a mark of 1:03.33 and trailing only Aloha sophomore Kaitlyn Dobler, who set a new state record while winning the event at 59.89.
And finally, the Pacers closed the meet by swimming to fifth place in the 400 freestyle relay, with Manzione, Hansen, O'Shea and Newman closing in 3:38.83. Sunset won the race at 3:25.69, while Jesuit's girls took second a 3:34.15.
Together, the Pacers' efforts sent O'Shea and Lakeridge's other seniors out on a high note.
"If anything, this was probably my state favorite state swim meet because we cared more about the team than about winning and we knew going into it that we would be in the top three so that was really exciting," said O'Shea, who will swim at Duke next year. "And we had a lot of people come out at the end to support us which was nice."