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Sherwood junior Julia Bush wins her third straight state title in the 100-yard freestyle

by: DAN BROOD - WINNING SMILE -- Sherwood High School junior Julia Bush is all smiles after her winning performance in the 100-yard freestyle event Saturday at the Class 5A state swimming championships. GRESHAM — Like the first time, and the second time, the third time was the charm.

The championship charm.

And Julia Bush got to flash her title-winning smile again.

Bush, a Sherwood High School junior, reigned supreme over the field in the 100-yard freestyle race for the third straight year.

She earned her three-peat Saturday as she swam to victory in the 100 freestyle at the OSAA Class 5A state championships, held at Mt. Hood Community College.

“That’s insane,” Sherwood coach Lalanya Fisher said of Bush’s three straight state titles in the 100 freestyle.

“Yeah, what she said,” Bush said with a smile.

Bush, who was named the Female Athlete of the Meet, won her third state championship in the 100 freestyle in a time of 52.30 seconds. Lebanon junior Maddy Kelly finished in second place with a mark of 53.02.

“This shows that all the hard work I put in paid off,” Bush said. “It wasn’t for nothing. I’ve dedicated a lot of hours in the pool.”

And that certainly seemed to show at Saturday’s state meet. However, the victory didn’t come easy, as Kelly got off to a strong start to the race.

“I was a little nervous in the first 50,” Bush said. “After that, I knew I had to go all out. I had to give it my all.”

That determination, like all of the hard work, seemed to pay off.

Bush, after that close first 50 yards, began to pull away from Kelly in the second 50.

“On the last wall, I flipped toward her and saw that I was ahead,” Bush said. “Then I said ‘I have to bring it home.’”

She did.

After touching the final wall, Bush looked up at the scoreboard and got a big smile on her face as she congratulated Kelly and Hood River’s Dhani Freeland, who swam in the lanes next to her.

“This meant a lot to me,” said Bush, who had to deal with a bout of strep from a couple weeks ago as well as a sprained ankle she suffered the week of the Northwest Oregon Conference district meet. “I was worried about how I’d perform today. Having it all fall together was great.”

Also great, Bush said, was winning the 100 freestyle for a third straight year.

by: DAN BROOD - GOING FAST -- Sherwood High School junior Julia Bush is on her way to a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle event Saturday at the Class 5A state championships. “It’s special,” she said. “The 100 is my race. To win it year after year shows I can still do it. The three titles all mean the same to me. There’s that moment where I can step back and say I can still do it.”

Bush’s winning time of 52.30 on Saturday was a bit shower than her winning mark of 51.86 last year, but it was faster then her freshman time of 52.91.

“I’m happy with it,” Bush said with a smile.

“She stuck to her race,” Fisher said.

In addition to her victory in the 100 freestyle on Saturday, Bush also placed second in the 200 freestyle — for the third straight year.

Bush was nearly a two-time 2014 state champion, as she took the runner-up spot in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:53.81, which put her just .06 behind winner Mackenzie Halli of Summit.

“She’s our inspiration,” Fisher said of Bush. “She’s an inspiration for all of the team.”

And the Sherwood team also means a lot to Bush.

“I had a lot of fun with the this year,” Bush said. “All year, we messed around with the relay. I got to know a lot more swimmers on the team this year. That was really nice.”

Bush will face a different sort of test next year, as she goes four her fourth straight state title in the 100 freestyle. That’s because Sherwood will be moving up to the Class 6A level for the 2014-2015 school year.

“There will be a lot more competition next year, and I like competition,” Bush said. “I’m hoping to get up on the podium”

Four members of the Sherwood boys team — senior Hao Tan, juniors James Heinlein and Joe Bassich and sophomore Carter Howard — got to experience competing at the state meet for the first time.

“It’s been really cool,” Howard said of the state-meet experience. “We were nervous, but it was good.”

Howard finished eighth in the Friday’s preliminary heats for the 500 freestyle in 5:08.58, making him an alternate for Saturday’s finals, and he was 10th in the 200 freestyle preliminaries in 1:55.88.

Sherwood’s 200 freestyle relay team of Tan, Heinlein, Bassich and Howard placed eighth in the preliminaries in a season-best time of 1:34.89, making the Bowmen squad an alternate for the finals.

All four of Sherwood’s racers in that event all had their best times.

“We were all excited about that,” Howard said. “We did well.”

“The boys swam their best,” Fisher said. “Being alternates is a step.”

The returning Bowmen boys will also be taking on a bigger challenge next year at the Class 6A level.

“We’re going to have to do better to get back here,” Howard said. “We’ll have to train harder.”

Summit won both the boys and girls team championships at Saturday’s Class 5A state meet. The Sherwood girls tied for eighth place in the final team standings with 12 points.

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