Senior Trinyty Howard leads the way after setting a new PR in her 500-yard freestyle

The St. Helens swim team was determined to see how it measured up.

Sure, the Lions' best swimmers wanted to know how they measured up against the state's best at last week's Class 5A state swim meet, held Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College Aquatic Center.

But more importantly, the Lions wanted to see how they measured up against an even more important standard — themselves.

And on that front, St. Helens measured up very well indeed.

While the Lions qualified just two individuals and one relay team to the state meet — both St. Helens teams finished fourth at district a week earlier — each one of them stepped up and competed well against that most important yardstick — their own previous best times.

"State was an amazing experience. Overall, I end this season just as excited as I started it," said St. Helens coach Chelsie Orr, sharing credit with assistant coach Austin Sharp and team manager Sarah Bartocci. "Not to say there weren't tough times, but they were all worth it."

The Lions' state qualifiers included senior Trinyty Howard in the 500-yard freestyle (she won the Northwest Oregon Conference district title in the event), junior Olive Owens in the 200 freestyle (she was second at district) and the boys 400 freestyle relay team of freshman Ryan Maher, sophomore Cooper Montgomery, freshman Jake Maher and senior Chase Parkhurst.

Howard competed in the preliminary heat of the 500 freestyle on Friday, and while she didn't qualify for the championship finals, she finished 12th and set a five-second personal best time of 5 minutes, 53.88 seconds.

"Trinyty did PR by close to five seconds on her last 500 freestyle of her high school career and I think she was pretty happy with that," Orr said.

Likewise, Owens battled the state's best in the 200 freestyle and finished her preliminary race in 10th place with a 2:08.47.

"(She) ended up the 10th fastest 5A girl in the 200 free … and she will be excited to have another attempt as I am sure she will earn a spot again next year as a senior," Orr said.

And the boys relay team notched a 12th-place finish in their preliminary heat, eventually touching home with a time of 3:40.40.

Notable from that quartet's efforts was Ryan Maher's drop in time over the course of the season, from a 59-second 100 to a 54 in just three months.

"The young talent on the boys team is very encouraging," Orr added.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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