Girls nearly knock off the defending NWOC champs; boys get seven individual wins

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MILES VANCE - St. Helens junior Cooper Montgomery set a PR in winning the 200 freestyle and helped the Lions place first in two relays at a meet against Wilsonville.Two close losses were anything but hugely disappointing last week to the St. Helens High swim teams.

The Lions girls pushed defending Northwest Oregon Conference champion Wilsonville to the brink before the Wildcats emerged with an 86-84 victory Jan. 3 at Eisenschmidt Pool.

"A two-point spread is huge," St. Helens coach Chelsie Orr said. "I was impressed with the performance of our girls team, and though we didn't have as many time improvements as earlier in the season, they looked great."

The St. Helens boys were just as competitive, losing 86-82 to Wilsonville despite the absence of two members of their 14-man team.

"Missing those two boys hurt our depth and ability to fill events, but the ones who were there swam strong and are looking great," Orr said.

Next for the Lions is the Riverhawk Invitational on Saturday. It's hosted by The Dalles High and takes place at Hood River Aquatic Center.

The NWOC district meet is less than a month away; it'll be Feb. 8-9 at Parkrose.

"We are more than halfway through the season and in the meat of our training," Orr said. "Workouts are long and challenging, meant to build strength and endurance for the four weeks before we start a short taper before districts."

Against visiting Wilsonville, the Lions girls had key swims from a variety of individuals in a mix of events.

Senior Olive Owens won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races, and senior Audra Lein captured the 100 backstroke in a PR of 1 minute, 22.04 seconds.

Freshman Katie Pletsch was second in the 200 free, freshman Molly Wheeldon placed second in the 200 individual medley and 100 free, and junior Maggie Wheeldon was the runner-up in the 500 free and 100 breaststroke.

The Lions won the 200 freestyle relay with their team of Molly and Maggie Wheeldon, Owens and senior Lydia Rose.

The St. Helens girls were second in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, and the Lions also picked up a third in the 200 free relay.

In the boys meet against Wilsonville, Lions junior Cooper Montgomery notched a PR of 1:19.06 to win the 200 free.

Teammates and sophomores Jake and Ryan Maher were double winners. Jake took the 200 IM and 100 breast, while Ryan won the 50 and 10 0 free. Ryan's 50 time of 23.66 was a personal best.

Sophomore Nick Brooks also captured two events for the Lions, taking first in the 100 butterfly and 100 back.

The boys crew of Montgomery, Brooks and the Mahers was first in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.

The 200 free relay quartet of sophomores Andrew Pletsch and Andrew Funk and juniors Ryan Darby and Joseph Langlais placed second.

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