Lakeridge boys first, Lake Oswego second at TRL district swim meet
The Lakeridge and Lake Oswego boys swim teams have been chasing Three Rivers League supremacy for a long, long time.
Indeed, for well more than two months, there was seemingly little difference between the two, with the Pacers and Lakers both going unbeaten in the TRL regular season and tying 85-85 in their 2020 league finale.
But now, Lakeridge has finally put some distance — a little bit of it anyway — between itself and Lake Oswego.
The Pacers won seven of the 11 events at the 2020 TRL district meet — held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14-15, at Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center — and used that effort to finish first in the seven-team field with 286 points.
Under normal circumstances, that might have been enough to fuel a runaway victory, but there was nothing normal about this year's district meet. The Lakers won just one race at district, but also finished second four times, third three times and used their quality depth to place second with 272 points.
The complete team scoring included: Lakeridge 286, Lake Oswego 272, West Linn 190, Canby 131, Tualatin 127, Tigard 107 and Oregon City 98.
"We tried to switch up our relays a little bit from how we were doing it in the regular season to try and beat (Lake Oswego) here," said Lakeridge senior Jay Heymann, who won both the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races and also swam on two winning Pacer relays. "We had three pretty even relays."
"We had a lot more swimmers this year than last year, both JV and varsity, and everyone's got a great attitude about swimming and everyone's doing great, dropping time," said Lakeridge sophomore Andrew Huang, winner of the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, as well as swimming on two winning relays.
For Lake Oswego, the Lakers' lone win came from freshman William Thistlethwaite, sophomore Dohyun Kim, sophomore Lincoln Buckner and sophomore Steven Peng in the 200 freestyle relay.
After his second-place finish in the 50 freestyle, Peng offered comments that may have echoed his team's thoughts about the district meet overall.
"It was a great race," he said. "I really tried my best, but what happens, happens. Second place is good."
Next up, the Lakers' and Pacers' best will take their best shots at the Class 6A state meet, with preliminaries set for 1:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and finals for 1:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.
The Pacers kicked off their day with a win in the meet's first event, seeing Heymann, Huang, senior Robert Jiang and senior Patrick Dakin win the 200 medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 39.91 seconds.
Heymann followed up with a victory in the meet's first individual race, going 1:42.53 to win a second straight district title in the 200 freestyle and set a new TRL district record in the process.
"I've been going after this one for a number of years so I'm glad I finally got it," said Heymann, who will continue his education and swimming career next year at Johns Hopkins University. "I've raced the 200 many, many times. It's probably the race that I know how to swim the best, know how to pace the best, and I got off to a good start and kept it going."
Huang then made it three wins in a row for the Pacers when he took the 200 individual medley (he was second at district last year) with a time of 1:55.29.
"I feel great. I'm happy with my swim," Huang said. "It's not my best (time), but I'm happy with how I did considering training and all of that."
Heymann came back with his second victory in the 100 freestyle, posting a 47.46 to win by almost two seconds. Three races later, Lakeridge freshman Aaron Tran broke through for victory in his first district meet, winning the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.13.
Huang followed with his second win in the next race, taking the 100 breaststroke for a second straight season, this year with a time of 59.39. And finally, the Pacers capped their day by winning the 400 freestyle relay, with Tran, senior Jackson Davitt, Huang and Heymann setting a new TRL district record of 3:14.87.
The team's success was just what Huang had hoped for and enjoyed most about high school swimming.
"It's a lot of fun," Huang said. "Honestly, it's one of my favorite things about high school swimming, just the atmosphere of being on a team (with) all my friends from school and everyone's so excited and we get each other excited to race."
Other top finishers/state qualifiers for the Pacers were: senior Robert Jiang, third in the 100 butterfly at 56.02; Tran, third in the 100 free at 49.84 (he earned a wildcard berth to state); the 200 free relay team of Tran, Jiang, senior Patrick Dakin and Davitt, third at 1:32.33 (they earned a wildcard berth to state); senior Andy James, third in the 100 breaststroke at 1:01.81 (he earned a wildcard berth to state); and Davitt, fourth in the 50 free at 22.82 (he earned a wildcard berth to state).
While Lake Oswego didn't get all the big "Ws" that the Pacers did, the Lakers were very nearly as effective at racking up points in the district meet.
Their one win came in the 200 freestyle relay, where Thistlethwaite, Kim, Buckner and Peng sped to victory with a time of 1:30.90 to edge second-place West Linn by just .06.
Unfortunately, the Laker relay team was later disqualified because one of its members was over the limit of swims for the weekend.
Beyond that, the Lakers grabbed second in four events: Peng took second in the 50 free at 22.50 (he trailed Oregon City winner Ian Watt by just .08 and earned a wildcard berth to state); freshman Jonathan Bell posted a runner-up finish in the 200 freestyle with a 1:51.06; Bell was second again in the 500 free at 4:58.65 (he earned a wildcard berth to state); and the 400 freestyle relay team of Thistlethwaite, Bell, senior Michael Bell and sophomore James Kang took second at 3:26.58 (and earned a wildcard berth to state).
"It was one of my better starts (but) what really got me was the second 25," Peng said of his 50 free. "I went out with all my effort and energy and I just kind of was strained the last two yards. I thought that I was leading up to the flags, but when I touched the wall, I definitely knew that Ian got first place."
Also winning a wildcard berth to state was Kim, following his third-place finish in the 50 free at 22.78.
Other top LO finishes came from: freshman Derek Wu, third in the 200 free at 1:51.32; Kang, fourth in the butterfly at 57.67; Kang, fourth in the backstroke at 57.32; Kim, fourth in the breaststroke at 1:02.14; Michael Bell, fifth in the butterfly at 57.94; and Michael Bell, fifth in the backstroke at 59.71.
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