by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - David Douglas' Sam Redwine-Hixson comes up for a breath during the 500-yard freestyle final. Watching the scoreboard during last week's Mt. Hood Conference boys district swim meet was like seeing the wheels turn on a slot machine. The lead changed hands five times before coming up cherries for regular-season champion David Douglas.

Scots coach Jim Bowe knew his team had ground to make up after Friday’s qualifying races, so he leaned hard on his seniors to carry the load in the finals.

He packed Lucky Le, Ray Miller, Sam Redwine-Hixson and Jonathan Merkley together on the 200-yard freestyle relay and gave them a focused task — win the race.

The quartet did that and more, coming to the wall with a district-record time of 1:29.62, an effort that would vault the Scots to the top of the leader board with four races remaining at Mt. Hood Community College.

“Those guys have been in the pool since they were 10 years old, so it was really good to see them do this together as a group,” Bowe said.

Gresham rallied late to take a one-point lead into the final relay, but Bowe anticipated such an ending and leaned on his seniors once more. Redwine-Hixson, Miller and Merkley put Gresham in its wake over the first three legs, and rookie Raymond Pham brought home a second-place finish and the points needed to claim the district crown.

Gresham's relay finished 25 seconds back, in fifth place.

David Douglas totaled 345 points for the MHC meet. Gresham had 340. Centennial was third with 328.

David Douglas had kept pace with Le's wins in the 50 free (21.98) and 100 free (47.82). He was the first to the turn in the shorter race and came in a body length ahead of the field.

"The team goal was to win today," Le said, "so I had to go out there and do what it took to get first-place points."

Miller added a butterfly win in 54.01.

Barlow senior Nick Thorne put together a record-shattering effort in the 200 medley (1:51.60). He was racing the clock coming off the start blocks and had lapped all but one swimmer when he made his final turn for home. His finishing time beat the district mark by 1.57 seconds.

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