Elli Williams placed third at state; younger sister Lexi gets first at USA state meet.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Christopher Dankenbring, Colby Anderson, Lexi Williams and Elli Wlliams compete in the USA state meet.Madras swimming had two big weekends in a row, as the high school team competed at state, while the Madras Swim Team competed at the 1-14 year-old state USA swimming competition.

On Feb. 15, the high school swim team traveled to Tualatin, bringing six swimmers with them.

Freshman phenom Elli Williams keeps breaking school record and placing in the top while doing it. At high school state, she finished third in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.71 and fifth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.31, both school records. Williams also helped the 200 freestyle relay team (Williams, Gabi Smith, Emma Shierk and Bailee Tucker) finish in ninth place, just four seconds from making it to the final heat.

"She had two best times by a large margin and now has two new school records," head coach Tim Nelson said. "It was her first time under 25 seconds (50 freestyle) and did it by a lot. Her 100 free time is super fast for a freshman and that is super exciting."

"The relay team improved," he said. "It was a good showing for those girls."

Senior Smith placed 11th in the 100 freestyle and 12th in the 50 freestyle at state. Freshman male swimmer Julian Hollinshead ended the meet in 12th place in the 50 freestyle.

"Gabi swam pretty stable," Nelson said. "Her potential college swim coaches were there, so that was really good for her. She is narrowing it down now."

"Julian was able to place 12th as a freshman, so that is a great starting place for him," Nelson said.

USA state swimming

In the USA state swimming competition, Madras took four swimmers from the Madras Swim Team (MST), two boys and two girls. They took Elli Williams (14), Lexi Williams (12), Colby Anderson (14, boy) and Christopher Dankenbring (13).

For the boys, Anderson dropped his time nine seconds in the 200 fly and moved to ninth place, which was the first alternate in the finals.

"That was quite the swim for him (Anderson)," said Nelson.

Dankerbring qualified in several events, in the 200 fly, 200 free, 1000 free, 500 free, 400 IM. He had personal best swims in all his events, but could not crack the top eight.

"His best 400 IM, where he dropped his time by 11 seconds," Nelson said. "It is probably one of the most grueling events. He has a bright future. He just started swimming for us, being a transfer from Hood River."

The 400 IM is a combination of four different swimming styles — butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle — into one race.

Lexi Williams, younger sister of Elli, placed first in four events, the 50 free (24.58), 500 free (5:25.26), 200 free and 100 free. She also placed third in the 50 breast (32.85) and fourth in the 100 IM. Williams broke MST records in the 50 free, 50 breast and 100 IM.

"Her older sister Elli finished in fifth at state with a time of 24.71, so Lexi, who is two years younger, swam a little faster," Nelson said. "She is a phenomenal swimmer for a 12-year-old."

Williams will compete at regionals in Washington, where she has the best qualifying times by a wide margin. Regionals will be several Western states competing against each other.

Williams scored 46 points at the state meet and was one point away from being the point leader at state.

Elli Williams was able to swim at both the high school state swim meet and the USA 11-14 state swim meet, due to her young age.

"Elli had some amazing swims," said Nelson. "She only qualified for one event last year and she qualified for six events this year, placing in five of those."

Williams placed fourth in the 50 freestyle and 200 backstroke. She also broke two MST records in the 200 freestyle (2:02.92) and the 100 backstroke (1:01.98), placing fifth in both events.

"It is really hard to swim in big events three weeks in a row," Nelson said. "She swam in districts, high school state and this state. "She was right there, just a little shy of her best times. She placed in the top eight against not only swimmers from 4A, but 5A and 6A swimmers as well."

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