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Indians star, go head-to-head with chief rival Newport at 10-team extravaganza

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Scappoose star Nash Wilson and the Indians took third place overall at the Blanchet Invitational.

Every great program needs a foil, a counterpart that pulls the best out of them, even during the regular season.

Newport is a Class 4A school on the Oregon Coast, one that Scappoose won't run into when it takes on the Northwest Oregon Conference district or the 5A state meet. But make no mistake. In the unofficial ranking of the Indians' chief rivals throughout the years, Newport is near the top. The Cubs can make Scappoose dig deep and reach a higher competitive level by their mere presence in the pool. It's a healthy, albeit cantankerous rivalry, especially in the relays, that dates back a decade. And through the sometimes doldrums of the regular season, Newport has been Scappoose's smelling salt, the school that shows up at the same prestigious invitationals, pulls the goggles down and goes after it.

At the Blanchet Invitational last week, after getting the best of Newport twice already earlier in the year, Scappoose boys took on the Cubs again, this time with the Lincoln County power at full strength. And true to form, the Indians' 400 free relay team made sure Scappoose earned its respect, beating the Cubs by a second to finish third as a team overall (158 points). Newport ended up taking second with Silverton winning the meet (255).

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Amanda Walsh and the Scappoose girls swimming team continue to improve and drop time this year. It was the Scappoose-Newport feud, however, that had the patrons talking. The Indians didn't know the Cubs were coming to the Blanchet Invite until late Friday night when Newport asked into the competition. They wanted another shot at the Indians, after going winless in the first two matchups. Whenever possible, the Cubs actively seek out Scappoose, who welcomes and relishes the challenge. Newport made no bones about its intentions, either. Once the Cubs were granted entrance into the invite, their head coach emailed Scapppoose with word of the good news. Game on.

"Our boys love to swim against them," Scappoose head coach Dave Richmond. "I think going against the best brings out the best. It doesn't matter what classification you're in. Newport can complete perennially with just about anyone in the state. It was a great experience."

Just like two years ago, the Scappoose boys 400 free relay brought the effort in a hurry, all swimming their best relays splits of the season. Richmond found out Newport stacked the back half of their relay so he decided to mix up its planned order to put Nash Wilson back in his usual lead-off position. Wilson came up with a huge first leg to put us up a little over a second. Bryant PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Mara Wilson and the Scappoose girls swimming team continue to improve and drop time this year. Sharp hammered the second leg with a second off his seasonal best to push the lead to another five seconds and that's when it became really interesting. Newport's third leg was second in the state last year in the 100 freestyle and the state champion in the backstroke and was matched up with Cadmen Posvar. Richmond said Posvar gave it a heck of an effort coming up with a split that almost matched his time last year in the state meet. Posvar's effort allowed the Indians to hand the lead over to Will Blair (a 2019 state finalist) who had to match up against Luke Bachart, a two-time state finalist and runner up in the 500 last year and Blair was able to put him away with a 50-second split to earn the victory.

"It was a fantastic race," Richmond said. "It was a fantastic way to end the day. The crowd was on their feet and the place was going crazy. It's racing experiences like that that can prepare you for the championship part of the season. Races against Newport tend to feel like championship meets. Newport has guys who are top tier up and down the lineup, so they put the pressure on. I loved how we responded and rose to the occasion."

This was a 10-team invite down in Keizer that Scappoose attends annually. Blanchet has a fast pool, Richmond explained, but a notoriously slick wall on the far side of the pool. Despite the many slips, Richmond said the Indians had many great swims. The meet started with a great medley relay when Newport took an early lead in the race in the backstroke. Silverton then moved up to second ahead of in the breaststroke where Scappoose stayed through the butterfly and gave it to Sharp about seven yards behind. However, facing a significant gap, Sharp ripped off a crazy first 25 yards and closed the gap in half and closed hard in the final stretch passing Silverton and just getting out-touched by a tenth of a second.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Scappoose swimming standout Alex Masog and the Indians took third place overall at the Blanchet Invitational. "While we didn't win, the positive we took from it was that we should have won swimming three seconds slower than we did earlier in the season," Richmond said. "We need races like that to season us for February. I think it will sharpen our focus for later in the season."

The girls 400 relay also made a positive impression, swimming to a fourth-place finish. Emma Jeppesen, Anna Cox, Stephanie Barnes had solid performances as did Kelsey Ela, Rachel Laurdisen, and Amanda Walsh.

"The girls are getting more and more confident," Richmond said. "I would love to see our teams take another dive (in times) here soon. Many of them are chipping away here and there so they are ready to."

Scappoose had 60 personal bests in this meet and many of those came in relay splits and from first-year swimmers.

"I love watching the younger swimmers step up and bring great efforts," Richmond said.

Also, for the boys, Maller had a huge personal record in the 100-butterfly following up his great performance Tuesday in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

"I think he is more on fire than anyone right now," Richmond said of Maller. "All his hard work has really been paying off."

The boys' 50 free was a great race as Blair and Sharp tied for first. Sharp had a huge back half off of the turn to pull even.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Scappoose swimming standout Aiden Becker and the Indians took third place overall at the Blanchet Invitational. "I thought he actually won the race," Richmond said of Sharp. "Will was breathing to his right so we were able to see the Silverton swimmer but not Bryant. It was cool to see. They both work their tails off and both deserved to win."

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