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The Tigers' efforts allow the team to send a few swimmers to state this weekend

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Newberg's 200-meter relay team will compete as a wildcard in the state swimming championships this weekend.

Making significant strides in a season with smaller participation and less experience than some of its competitors, the Newberg High School swim team had a strong performance in the eyes of its coach at the Pacific Conference district meet on Friday and Saturday. The Tiger girls finished second and the boys third in terms of team points; the teams sent a trio of individuals along with one relay team to state in the process.

"Overall, it was pretty awesome," NHS coach Cari Blanchard said. "(Assistant coach Erin Fincher) and I were so excited and proud of them. Every athlete except a few came back to swim in the finals. We had a lot of good races and so much improvement across the board."

Nearly every swimmer had a personal record at the district meet, Blanchard said, and a sizeable majority of Newberg's team made it to the finals in their individual events. That is an example of how much the team has grown and developed, Blanchard said, and is a nice capstone to a season of improvement.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - While the Newberg boys' 200-meter relay team didn't finish high enough to earn a trip to state, one of its members, Ty Patterson, will compete at state.

"It was exciting because everyone had a great race," she said. "Newer, younger kids were dropping 10 seconds on an event, kids that just came out this year were improving and our top swimmers were getting some personal records."

Newberg will send to state Stella Byles and Nikki Rubottom from the girls' team and Ty Patterson from the boys' team, along with the girls' 200 relay team as a wild card. Byles will participate in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races, Rubottom will be in the 200 individual medley and Patterson will swim in the 50 free and 100 backstroke.

Patterson's performance at the district meet set a school record for the backstroke, Blanchard said, and Newberg's top swimmers made time improvements while setting personal records of their own.

"Stella, Ty and Nikki are our only individuals and I think they will all do really well," Blanchard said. "It will be even better racing because it's the best from all the leagues. That will give them an opportunity to swim fast and go hard."

State competition begins on Friday at Tualatin Hills swim center in Beaverton. A full schedule for the preliminaries and finals – along with live results – is available on www.OSAA.org.

Competing at state will bring to an end a season for Newberg that Blanchard described as a "culture change" instilled by new coaches.

"I think overall, we had such great improvement from the beginners on up to the seasoned swimmers," Blanchard said. "I think that shows all their hard work and willingness to grind all season for a couple new coaches. It was great effort all season long."


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