Year in review: Hilhi boys win state title
This week, the Tribune is looking back on the year that was, and when it comes to the highlights of the 2017 sports season, it's hard to look past the Hillsboro boys swim team, which won the school's first-ever state swimming championship in February at Mt. Hood Community College.
Ask head coach Fred Anderson, and he'll tell you it was well deserved.
"You can't say enough about these kids," Anderson said. "They've got good grades, they're good athletes, they're good students. They're just nice people."
And these nice guys didn't finish last.
On the backs of a handful of individual finishes and two huge relay performances, the Spartan boys built a one-point lead heading into the final event of the day, and only had to finish the 400-yard freestyle relay to secure the win and make a little Hillsboro High School history.
"We were behind those blocks saying, 'This is the last time we'll swim together in a relay,'" said senior Matthew Arnold. "We just had to not get disqualified and finish, but we wanted that gold so we went for it."
And they got it.
The relay team — comprised of Arnold, fellow seniors Dylan Fisher and Mitchell Morrison and junior Matthew Peterkort — won the race and surprised themselves with a time of 3:15.28.
"Considering the circumstances, we weren't expecting to swim that fast," Arnold said. "But when I touched the wall I was like, 'Whoa.'"
It was the second relay win of the day for the Spartans, after Arnold, Fisher, Morrison and junior Caden Spangler won the 200-yard freestyle relay earlier. Spangler and Peterkort also teamed with senior Robert Ellis and sophomore Nathan Claxton to finish fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, as well.
Individually, Arnold successfully defended his 2016 100-yard backstroke title by winning this year's event with a time of 53.06, narrowly defeating South Albany's Zack Gardner (53.45), while Hilhi's Claxton finished fifth (57.01).
In the 200-yard freestyle, won by Corvallis' Noah Vial with a time of 1:42.80, and Peterkort was sixth with a 1:51.07.
Morrison also finished fourth in the 100-yard freestyle (48.84) behind the winner, Lebanon's Casey McEuen (45.57), who was the male swimmer of the meet. While pleased, Morrison felt he could've done better.
"It felt good and it was a good race, but it wasn't my best," said Morrison. "But I definitely had fun in this environment in front of all these people. It was a great experience."