Mission accomplished: Lion girls third in NWOC
The St. Helens girls swim team knew what it wanted to accomplish at the Northwest Oregon Conference district meet.
The Lions wanted to battle the NWOC's best, swim their best and produce their best finish in recent years.
By the end of the meet — reduced from two to one day (Feb. 8) due to weather concerns — the girls had accomplished all of their goals.
The Lions racked up 215 points to finish third behind NWOC champion La Salle Prep (239) and Hillsboro (218). Wilsonville was fourth at 207, followed by Putnam (160), Scappoose (123), host Parkrose (34) and Milwaukie (26).
The Lions had finished fourth in both boys and girls the previous two years.
This year, the St. Helens boys were fifth with 147 points, behind Scappoose (259), Parkrose (241), La Salle Prep (189) and Hillsboro (181). After the Lions came Wilsonville (108), Putnam (83) and Milwaukie (24).
"My goal all along this year ... has been to place top three in at least one of them, if not both," said St. Helens coach Chelsie Orr, who was named NWOC Girls Coach of the Year.
"(We) have done really well," said St. Helens senior Olive Owens, who finished second and third in her individual races.
Owens said the team camaraderie "is strong, and everyone is really close this year. I feel like that's helped with relays and ... keeping each other pumped up."
Next, the Lions' state qualifiers will compete in the Class 5A meet at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton. Preliminary heats start at 1:45 p.m. Friday, and championship finals begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.
• The Lion girls built their third-place district showing on a solid team effort. They had one first-place finish, two seconds, three thirds, two fourths and two fifths.
Freshman Molly Wheeldon provided the win, taking the 100-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 3.17 seconds to beat runner-up Kelsey Ela of Scappoose by 1.39 seconds.
Wheeldon stepped up in her other individual event, too, speeding to second in 2:40.11 in the 200 individual medley, won by Hillsboro's Maya French in 2:37.09.
While Wheeldon didn't qualify for state in the IM, she will race in the 100 freestyle.
"I had hopes for Molly Wheeldon in the IM — she's a young freshman who's up-and-coming and a really fast swimmer," Orr said.
The Lions also got big days at district from Owens, junior Maggie Wheeldon and senior Lydia Rose.
Owens placed second in the 200 free, then came back three races later to take third in the 100 butterfly. She notched a 2:08.77 in the 200 free (Wilsonville's Riley Lawler won in 2:05.92), then swam 1:11.0 in the 100 fly.
"It wasn't the greatest, but I also tried really hard and left everything I had in the pool," Owens said of her 200 free. "So, overall, I know my effort was good, and that's all that matters really."
Rose took fourth in the 50 free with a 29.49 and third in the 100 backstroke in 1:13.36.
Maggie Wheeldon grabbed fifth in her individual events, swimming 6:40.28 in the 500 free and 1:28.13 in the 100 breaststroke.
The Lions took third in the 200 free relay, with Owens, Maggie Wheeldon, Rose and Molly Wheeldon swimming a 1:57.82.
St. Helens finished fourth in the 200 medley relay, where Molly Wheeldon, Maggie Wheeldon, Owens and Rose notched a 2:13.35.
• On the boys' side, the Lions won once, finished second once, grabbed third three times and took fifth in three events.
Sophomore Jake Maher provided the victory in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.67), after finishing third in the 200 IM (2:13.15).
"As far as the standouts, going into this we had Jake Maher," Orr said. "He didn't PR (in the 200 IM), but he had a really good event."
Jake Maher's twin brother, Ryan, was solid, too, finishing third in his individual races (57.43 in the 100 fly, 52.14 in the 100 free).
Fifth-place finishers in individual events for St. Helens were sophomore Nick Brooks in the butterfly (1:01.84), Brooks in the 100 backstroke (1:05.83) and junior Cooper Montgomery in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.37).
The Lions were second in the 200 medley relay, with Brooks, Jake Maher, Ryan Maher and Montgomery swimming a 1:49.93.
In the 400 free relay, Montgomery, Brooks, Jake Maher and Ryan Maher placed fourth in 3:42.69.
"(We set) a lot of best times, lots of personal records," Orr said. "I'm really happy with their performances as we shoot toward our goal."
Tanner Russ contributed to this story.
St. Helens 5A swim qualifiers
100 breaststroke — Jake Maher
100 butterfly — Ryan Maher
200 medley relay — Nick Brooks, Jake Maher, Ryan Maher, Cooper Montgomery
100 freestyle — Molly Wheeldon
200 freestyle — Olive Owens
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.