NHS swim team picks up statement victory
After the boys and girls dominated Liberty on Jan. 10 by a combined score of 253-68, the Newberg High School swim team traveled to Corvallis for the Rumbaugh Invitational — a 10-team meet that featured some of the state's best squads.
Bend, Canby, Corvallis, McMinnville, Mountain View, Redmond, Sheldon, Summit and West Salem all joined Newberg at the meet and the Tiger boys emerged victorious with 335 points. The girls showed improvement and finished fifth with 169 points.
The boys were dominant from the early swims, setting a few personal and school records in the process.
Elijah Clements broke the NHS record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.57 seconds. A team of Clements, Zach Jordan, Ty Patterson and Trey Fincher also broke a 35-year-old record in the 400 freestyle relay, posting a time of 3:12.71.
"We had the meet in the bag before they stepped up for the 400 relay," NHS coach George Sampson said. "I just told them, 'Leave it all out there, kids. If you get (disqualified), we still win the meet.' And they went out and set a record."
Sampson said the results were "completely unexpected," but that he's pleased with the progress of the boys team as the season enters a crucial stretch. Clements, Jordan, Patterson and Fincher have been the biggest standouts, he added.
The girls team picked up its first dual meet victory against Liberty before a fifth place finish at the Rumbaugh Invitational. Having enough swimmers to compete in dual meets and elsewhere has been a challenge for the Tigers, but the girls put together a complete performance in Corvallis to finish just behind rival McMinnville.
"The girls have come a long way," Sampson said. "Every one of those girls had a (personal record) at some time during the Rumbaugh. They swam so well – it was contagious."
Sampson switched up the strategy for the girls team. Instead of putting all of his proverbial eggs in a few baskets, he chose to spread out the placement of his swimmers across more events than usual. The result was a better performance than he'd seen from the girls' side all season.
"I put them in events that I thought they'd score points in, instead of stacking them all in the 50 and 100 where they were fighting each other for points," he said. "I got lucky – I guessed right this weekend – and it worked out for us."
Newberg's boys and girls teams host Glencoe on Thursday and Century on Jan. 24. After that, a home meet against Sherwood Jan. 29 caps off the regular season before the district meet Feb. 8-9 in McMinnville.
Sampson said if the Tigers maintain this level of performance, the boys will have a chance at the podium in state competition, and the girls will continue making significant progress. For now, though, he said he'd take the performance in Corvallis as the highlight of their season so far.
"This is a great group of kids," he said. "I'm proud of what they're doing."