Century High School's Luke Thornbrue chose to return to the Jaguars' swim team this past winter after taking two years off to focus on his club team, the Hillsboro Heat.
Since his return, the 2019 graduate won two state titles at the 2019 OSAA State Swimming Championships, and recently was named the Prep Boys Swimmer of the Year by the Oregon Sports Awards voting panel, edging out fellow finalists Ben Miller (Tigard) and Trent Martinez (Jesuit).
Thornbrue appeared on NBC Sports Northwest's "The Noe Show" July 24 in the wake of receiving his honor. He spoke about the time and effort he's put into swimming, his time at Century and his commitment to the University of Notre Dame, where he'll be swimming for the Irish this fall. The soon-to-be freshman committed to the school almost a year ago, despite a lack of interest prior to his visit.
"I actually didn't want to take an official visit there, but my parents were like, 'no, you have to take a trip there,'" Thornbrue told Noe. "And thankfully they made me because I just fell in love with it."
Thornbrue put his stamp on this past year's 6A Boys Swimming Championships, finishing with the most NICSA power points (327) of any swimmer and broke his own all-classification state record in the 200-yard freestyle (1:37.27). He also nearly broke the state record in the 500-yard freestyle at the meet, and his time of 4:26.04 was less than a second off the record of 4:25.21. Along with his 2019 titles, Thornbrue also claimed 200 and 500 state championships during his freshman season in 2016.
In addition to his high school work, the standout also built quite a club resumé, including being a seven-time Winter Juniors qualifier, swimming three best times at Junior Nationals last summer, and winning the 400 IM at Oregon Seniors at Federal Way Speedo Sectionals in March of 2018. His 2018 season was highlighted by 11th and 17th-place finishes, respectively, in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle at the U.S. Speedo Junior Nationals, and this past May, Thornbrue advanced to the finals in four events (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 100m fly) at the Mel Zajac Junior National Swim Meet and Speedo Junior Championships.
Luke isn't the only Thornbrue to win the award. His sister Ellie — a five-time state high school champion — won the same award following both her junior and senior seasons in 2015 and 2016. Ellie went on to swim at BYU and co-captained the Cougars this past season.
"It was cool because I got to swim with my sister in middle school, and she was on my club team with me," Thornbrue told Noe. "I got to see her go through high school swimming and she won this award too, so it's cool that I also win it. Watching her has helped me grow."
Thornbrue is excited to get to work both in the pool and out at Notre Dame, where he is expected to immediately compete for the Irish. His 1,500-meter freestyle time (15:58.01) would have placed 17th at the 2018 ACC Championships. Beyond the pool, he said he plans to pursue a double major in chemical engineering and marketing.
"They're two really different things, but I want to try and do a dual degree and then go into product marketing," he said.
Aloha's Kaitlyn Dobler was the Prep Girls Swimmer of the Year honoree for the second consecutive year. Dobler, too, was a finalist for the Johnny Carpenter 6A/5A Prep Girls Athlete of the Year honor.
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