Tigers ready for stretch run
Aside from a tie versus Tualatin early in the season, when they were a bit short handed, the Newberg boys swim team has cruised through the Three Rivers League this season.
Considering Lakeridge fell to the Timberwolves by just two points, the Tigers were expecting a challenge from the Pacers when they visited the Chehalem Aquatic Center last week.
Newberg, however, cruised to a 98-71 win Jan. 25 to remain unbeaten with one league dual meet remaining.
NHS coach George Sampson said he believes he could have avoided the tie versus Tualatin if he had made a few different moves, but couldn't be happier with how the boys have performed this season.
"Other than the faux pas I pulled at Tualatin, they've swum flawlessly all year long," he said. "They've swum big when they needed to. They came off a good Rumbaugh (Invitational), hit it hard in training the last two weeks and we're going to start our taper Monday."
Meanwhile, the Tiger girls have been enjoying some success in league after a lack of depth had made them uncompetitive in the dual meet format in recent years.
And while Newberg has become much stronger, it wasn't enough to unseat last year's third-place finisher at state, as Lakeridge coasted to a 102-67 victory.
"Last year we didn't win any dual meets," senior sprinter Tina Childress said. "My sophomore year we won one and my freshman year we didn't win any, but we've won three this year. We were always sort of the underdogs, but I think now people are starting to notice us more, especially placing at state last year."
The boys swept all three relays versus the Pacers, but were tested in a tough race in the 200 freestyle relay. The foursome of Zach Jordan, Raleigh Day, Ty Patterson and Trey Fincher touched in 1:32.05 to edge Lakeridge by just 0.20 seconds.
The same quartet then posted a time of 3:26.74 to win the meet-ending 400 free relay by three seconds.
"That is a great time for kids that are unrested, untapered and going into finals week next week," Sampson said. "The kids are under a lot of stress. I know they're exhausted, so that was a good step-up swim. I was really happy with the 200 free relay. There were four solid swims. Trey broke 22 (seconds) for anchor leg, 21.85. It was a good showing all the way across the board for the boys tonight."
The Tigers also got individual wins from Trey Fincher in both the 50 free (23.26) and 100 free (50.59). Newberg went 1-2-4 in both events, as well as 2-3-4 in the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke, to more than overcome its only overall event losses in the 200 free and 100 backstroke.
"We kind of expected more pressure than what we saw," Fincher said. "But we added a lot of depth this year."
In most league meets this year, the Tiger girls have been able to compete for individual wins even if they haven't matched up top to bottom, but the Pacers have a rare combination of depth and exceptional high-end talent, including a pair of swimmers who have competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and won all but one event.
"The girls swam tough," Sampson said. "Even though they were against a tough team, when they needed to, they stepped up and swam. Paris Boileau swam a lifetime best. Sophia Vargas swam a lifetime best. Violet Elder swam a season's best in a really well-paced race. So the girls are swimming well as a team."
Nikki Rubottom claimed Newberg's lone win by finishing the 100 fly in 1:05.63, while Childress was runner-up in both the 50 free (24.46) and 100 free (54.19), suffering her first losses in those events.
"Tina's pretty focused and resilient," Sampson said. "That's not what she was hoping for, but she now knows what she has to do to get the job done. She's a little sore right now, but she tapers really well. She's got a lot more speed in her because she's swum those times many times this year. We'll get some rest behind her and she what she does at state."
The Tigers wrap up the regular season Thursday at home versus Sherwood and will then have a week off before the district meet Feb. 9-10 at Mount Hood Community College.
"With the boys, we still haven't decided whether we're going to try to get a couple of individual events per guy or do three relays and just try to qualify each guy in one individual event," Sampson said. "We'll go over our automatic times this week to make some decisions and use Sherwood as kind of a sounding board for where we're at on personal events, then we'll go from there for districts."