Jesuit 400 free relay team wins final race of the day, clinches Metro League title

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Trent Martinez and the Crusader boys swimming team took down Sunset last week.

The new age turf war for Metro League honors was reminiscent of the old Jesuit-Sunset battles, back when the Apollos were the head honcho of the district staving off the advancing Crusaders.

Sunset, with a bevy of talented juniors and underclassmen quickly coming of age, surprised Jesuit in the powerhouses' mega Metro matchup on Feb. 1, winning four races to set up a winner-take-all tilt in the 400 free relay. Sunset star Caspar Corbeau and his junior counterpart Christian Walker were walking point-getters, fighting off fatigue and full plates of events to help carry the Apollos to the finish line. Yet, with their three-year run of league titles on the line, the Crusaders' championship mettle won out.

With Sunset needing two of its 400 free relay teams to finish first and third to overthrow Jesuit, the Crusaders snuffed out the heist as Noah Duyck, Josh Nguyen, Marco Nosack and Trent Martinez came away with the victory and ultimately the 88-82 win at Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Swimming Center.

"I didn't realize how close we'd be and going into that relay it's anybody's game," Martinez said. "I was surprised by that. Normally you don't get that close and I think we've gotten used to being ahead by a lot more. Losing seniors from last year has brought us closer to the other teams."

"I'm really proud of my teammates," Corbeau said. "We have super bright potential and we definitely can fight for first this year at state. When I'm rested and my teammates are rested, we're going to be insane. We're gonna go for it. To see that potential presented today, especially in that 400 free relay, has given me hope."

Nosack destroyed the third leg of the 400 free, creating a perceptible distance between himself and Sunset heading into the final phase of the race: a clash between Martinez and Corbeau, the two fastest swimmers in the building. With enough buffer and ample clip, Martinez powered through the turn and took Jesuit home for the 3:13.51 triumph. Corbeau closed the gap from him to Martinez, but the Crusader junior swam a strong first 75 yards to sustain the space.

"I was very antsy about it," Martinez said. "I knew Marco had a great leg and was able to get me more of a lead. I thank him for that. Caspar is a really fast guy. He came closer and closer to me, but from the room Marco and everybody gave me I was able to hold on."

Marco Nosack, the younger brother of all-time state great Anthony Nosack and sister Sofia, a key cog on the Crusader girls swimming team, lived up to the family name and made a mark of his own.

"It's in their blood to be hard workers," Martinez said. "All of them have been a very vital part of the high school team."

Corbeau and Walker combined for three individual wins with Corbeau winning the 50 free (20.73) by two seconds and the 100 breaststroke (57.17) by four seconds. Walker won the 100 free (51.55) and swam with Corbeau on the winning 200 free relay that also had Angus Corbeau and Miles Imai. At one point against Jesuit, Walker swam three of four events on the meet sheet including a back-to-back 200 free relay/100 backstroke double up. After just recently finishing up winter training in the pool for club and finals work in the classroom, the Apollos are headed the taper portion of their season with two more shots at Jesuit, including a titanic showdown at the Class 6A state championship meet.

"I think we got them next time," Corbeau said. "It's going to be the same scenario, just a little bit more rested. "This is a big confidence booster considering where we are in training, just how we're feeling overall. Honestly what's made us unique is the connections we've made outside of swimming, especially at school, meeting new friends, really incorporating the freshmen and making it feel like home for them. It's made everybody fast."

So used to tearing through teams the past three seasons both in the district and at the state level, Jesuit withstood its first true trial in quite some time. In 2016 and 2017 the Crusaders were chasing times and historical team point totals, not any opponent in particular — that's how dominant Jesuit was. Their biggest opposition was themselves. Now, Sunset is firmly in the mix as a state title contender, which the Crusaders welcome.

"It brings out the good in the sport and poses a challenge," Martinez said. "We're all out here to challenge ourselves or else it doesn't make sense to be here. We just have to keep working for it, keep working to keep everybody engaged to how close it will be. I just have to be the best team leader I can be."

Martinez won the 200 and 500 free, Duyck took top honors in the 100 butterfly and Beau Lonnquist won the 100 backstroke for the Crusaders. Sunset, Jesuit and the rest of the Metro League will race at the district championship meet on Friday and Saturday this week. Preliminaries on Friday and the finals begin Saturday afternoon at THRPD.

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