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Scappoose High's swimming teams turn in some top-notch times in first meet of 2018-19 season

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Madison Poppenhagen returns for her senior season as one of the key swimmers for the Scappoose Indians.It didn't take long for the 2018-19 Scappoose High swim team to make waves.

The Indians posted a number of personal bests in their first meet, the Tillamook Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 1.

And that might be a good sign for the rest of the season.

"You always hope your swimmers can swim close to the times they ended with the previous season, but rarely you see your kids have significant personal bests in the first meet," Scappoose coach David Richmond says. "We had an excellent first meet."

The Indians might need to step up their game, because they're in Class 5A for the first time, after faring well for years in 4A.

"We're excited to move to 5A and believe we can compete well," Richmond says. "Our goals don't change. We want to win, and we want each swimmer to improve and progress throughout the season.

"Seeing the development of everyone is the most exciting aspect of each season."

The Scappoose boys, in particular, made a successful plunge into the new campaign. At Tillamook, they finished second out of eight teams, behind defending Class 4A champion Newport. Scappoose had 255 points to Newport's 411. Taft was third with 235, and Astoria took fourth with 130.

"The boys side came away with confirmation that our team is probably better than we thought," Richmond says. "We knew we were a strong team this year, but the times the boys turned in at Tillamook were much faster than expected." 

Highlights included Scappoose performances in the three relays. The Indians won the 200 freestyle relay. They were second in the 400 free relay. And they were third in the 200 medley relay.

"Last year, we went back and forth a little with Newport (the 2018 state champs), and the boys were really fired up to match up again this year," Richmond says.

The Indians' 200 free relay quartet beat Newport by nearly 2 1/2 seconds, with Taft third and seven seconds behind Newport.

"Our boys dominated the 200 free relay after turning out a great early season 200 medley time," Richmond says.

The 400 free relay was a rematch of last year's district championship final race and the state final. Scappoose won the district title, and Newport won the state title. 

This time, Scappoose leadoff swimmer Nash Wilson, a junior, turned in a solid time that left the Indians just off the lead. Senior Quincy Reynolds swam next and gave Scappoose about a three-second edge. Then, exchange student Panachai Kongja (from Thailand) sped to a 54-second leg and was just behind Newport's swimmer as Scappoose sophomore Will Blair took the anchor leg.  Blair pulled even with last year's 500 state champ, Lucas Ellingson-Cosenza, but couldn't quite get him at the finish.

Still, the Indians' runner-up time of 3:37.43 was the second-fastest in school history.

"To turn in a 3:37 on Dec. 1 is really incredible," Richmond says.

Blair won individually in the 200 freestyle, clocking 2:00.44. He fought off his closest pursuer, Joram Hoff of Taft.

And, Blair set a school record in the 100 butterfly, finishing second in 1:00.79. The previous mark, set by Sam Herscovitz in the 2014 district finals, was 1:01.20.

The Scappoose girls were seventh out of eight schools in the Tillamook meet. With 129 points, they were just behind Astoria (131) and not far back of fifth-place Seaside (153).

Individually and on relays, some Indians made their mark, too. The most impressive swims came from returners Rachel Lauridsen, Kelsey Ela and Montana Poppenhagen. 

Lauridsen turned in an anchor leg in the sixth-place 200 medley relay that was seven seconds faster than her time in the same meet a year ago.

Ela nabbed fifth in the 100 freestyle.

Notable newcomer swims came from freshmen Mara Wilson, Stephanie Barnes and Elizabeth McIsaac.

The 200 free relay posted a strong first meet time, taking third in 2:02.92. Lauridsen, Poppenhagen, Wilson and Ela comprised that team.

The Indians' swim team is coming off back-to-back 4A Cowapa League championships by the boys and consecutive second-place finishes in the Cowapa by the girls.

The boys were second in last year's regional meet to eventual state champion Newport, then took ninth at state — the highest finish ever by a Scappoose boys swim team. the 200 and 400 free relays set school records, as did Blair in the 50 free. He was the Indians' top individual placer at state, finishing fifth in the 4A/3A/2A/1A Oregon School Activities Association championships in February at Mt. Hood Community College.

In addition to Blair, Wilson and Reynolds, top returning boys are juniors Bryant Sharp, Cadmen Posvar and Brisyn Maller.

Depth is there, too, with returning boys Dimitri Vanderhoef, Cole Bakkensen, Isaac Reed, Matthew Reed, Gustavo Villalvazo, Owen Reynolds and Jesse Oliver. All are juniors except for Owen Reynolds, who is a sophomore, and Oliver, who is a senior.

Seniors Poppenhagen, Maddy Thorn and Lauren Whisenhunt lead the girls team, along with juniors Ela and Lauridsen.

Wilson and McIsaac are among the most promising new swimmers.

Next for the Indians is the River City Invitational at 4:15 p.m. Friday at Eisenschmidt Pool. Scappoose, St. Helens, Gladstone, The Dalles, North Marion and Blanchet Catholic are slated to compete.

Overall, Richmond says the Indians have a lot to look forward to this season.

"We've had a lot of success the last two years, and we plan to continue to have another big year this year," he says.

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