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Indian boys hope to repeat as district champions, embracing 'underdog' role

PMG FILE PHOTO - Scappooses Nash Wilson and the Indians are chasing after a Northwest Oregon Conference championship this week. It's time for the Scappoose swimming teams to reap what they've sown.

All that sacrifice, all those long winter break workouts while their friends were sleeping in, all that exertion and exhaustion that comes from this taxing sport, now the Indians can earn their payout. Winning a Northwest Oregon Conference championship won't be easy for the girls. Repeating as district champs will not come simply for the boys. But when the hay is already in the barn, all they have to do is hit the water at full force, compete to the best of their ability and see who can touch the wall fastest one race at a time.

The NWOC district championship meet begins on Friday with preliminaries and culminates with district finals on Saturday at Parkrose High School.

"I want the kids to first and foremost enjoy the experience," Scappoose head coach Dave Richmond said. "District is always a special and unique meet being it's over two days and considering what's on the line. This is what they work all season for. I also want to see the kids mentally ready and trust that they can push their limits beyond what they may have thought was possible when the season started. "

Richmond said there are some formidable teams this year that have brought on new swimmers and look strong, most notably LaSalle on the boys' side and Wilsonville on the girls' side. But the Scappoose boys' team is the defending NWOC champs, who dominated the regular season both at big-named invitationals and district dual meets. The Indians are senior-heavy, seasoned and star-driven.

"For our boys to repeat would be really be something," Richmond said. "I think like last year we are coming in as the underdog and need the lineup to all step up because we'll need every point we can get. This senior group of boys has accomplished so much, and we'll see if they can go out and do it one more time."

In a nod to yesteryear, when the Indians were Class 4A contenders, Scappoose won the Cowapa Championship for both the girls and the guys. This was the fourth year in a row the boys won this meet and the first time since 2013 for the girls. It's also the first time both teams have won the meet in the same year. The Tillamook girls have had a stranglehold on it for the better part of the last six years since, but Scappoose shook free thanks to an incredible 400-yard relay comeback by the girls. Seaside loaded their front side of their 400 with the best swimmers and Valley Catholic had their 55-second anchor leg waiting on the last leg, so it had the makings of a good race leading up to the last event. Rachel Lauridsen led off for the Indians and had them in second place after the first leg. Kelsey Ela managed to pull on Seaside to get Scappoose back to about 10 yards down and Amanda Walsh swam her personal best leg to keep us close while giving her team about a seven-yard cushion on Valley Catholic. Richmond said he was able to get Lauridesen's attention (great awareness on her part according to the head coach) and pointed out where Seaside was swimming to ensure she told Emma Hinsvark who she had to chase down (the race can get chaotic when teams are swimming various legs, Richmond said).

PMG FILE PHOTO - Scappoose swimmer Amanda Walsh."Wow, what a race," Richmond said. "Emma swam an incredible two-second personal best and was able to chase Seaside in the last 5-10 yard stroke win the race. It was very impressive. The girls gave it all they had at the end of the meet. We have a propensity to swim great 400's at the Astoria pool. We beat the boys' state champion team in 2018 and this was equally dramatic. I hope someone recorded it because I want a copy. I love to see our girls step up in the big moments."

There were other "spectacular performances" from the Indians team against their former conference foes. Other event winners included the boys medley relay (Nash Wilson, Owen Reynolds, Will Blair, Bryant Sharp), Will Blair in the 50 and 100 free, Cadmen Posvar in the 500, the boys 200 free relay (Blair, Wilson, Posvar, Sharp), Wilson in 100 back, and Reynolds in the 100 breaststroke. Other great performances included Sharp's second place in the 100 free in a personal record, Dimitri Vanderhoef with two personal bests in the 200 individual medley and 100 fly, Maller in the 100 fly and his 400 leg, Reynolds with two huge personal records in the 200 IM and 100 breast, Colin Stafford taking four seconds off his backstroke time, Emma Jeppesen in her breaststroke, Anna Cox and Amanda Walsh both "swimming their tails off" in the 500 and breaking seven minutes on the same day, Mara Wilson had a big 200 free and Lyla Dubois setting another personal record again in her 100 backstroke. Max White had a five-second improvement in his signature event, the 200 free, Miah Garrett with another personal best in the butterfly, Alex Masog took another six seconds off his 100 back, and Rose Kearsley in every event she swam.

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