At the Class 5A state championship meet, the district doubters came out in droves against the Scappoose boys' swimming team, discrediting the Indians' resume, smiting their successes.
Who said what specifically didn't matter much. The origins of the hate didn't carry much weight. But best believe Scappoose head coach Dave Richmond collected every bit negativity, every naysayer, social media post, printed quote or otherwise and brought it to his team's attention before 5A prelims at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center on February 21 and 22.
The Indians were already incentivized in hopes of setting a new standard. Now they were incensed and incited, out to prove their rightful place in the 5A hierarchy to the critics and skeptics.
Scappoose started and ended the season setting historic marks for the program. The boys finished in eighth place as a team which placed them in the top 10 in two of the last three seasons and was the highest finish ever in the 60 plus years of the boys' program. The pessimistic pre-state fuel was both helpful and appreciated. The Indians doubled up any other team in the district for points and had more than double the number of swimmers in the state finals than any other district team.
"This group of boys has been exceptional and special, so the comments didn't sit well," Richmond said. "They know how to rise to the occasion, and they did that again this weekend. They trust each other, push each other, and swim for each other which sets them apart from any other team. They shut down all the naysayers with their performances and showed everyone who the best team in the district really is this year on high school's biggest swimming stage. Our program, school, and community are all tremendously proud of them."
And while the slights and verbal jabs are good fodder and gossip triggers, Richmond didn't want the focus of this postseason to be solely on dissension. The 200 free relay Will Blair, Nash Wilson, Cadmen Posvar, Bryant Sharp, which was the Indians' strongest relay all season, placed third, also the top relay finish for a Scappoose team in school history. It was also the highest placing relay ever in Columbia County regardless of school district. That bested the fourth-place finish by the medley relay of Wilson, Blair, Sharp and Owen Reynolds just an hour and a half prior (no one has ever been higher than sixth previously). Every one of them had a personal best and almost all of them had multiple personal bests and along the way. Scappoose set two more school records (in both relays). Both relays moved up dramatically from fifth in the 200 freestyle and from the in the 200 medley. This team won a championship of some kind every year of their swimming careers. That rivals only the Indian girls' teams of 2010-2013.
"I think it's important that people know how resilient this group is and how they responded in such a positive way," Richmond said. "In terms of what kind of legacy they leave, in the simplest terms, this group has accomplished more than any other. They have set the standard for all future teams. We know what we can accomplish when we have the talent and it takes everyone doing their job to maximize the skills and abilities of a team."
Sharp took sixth in the 50 free, setting a new personal best by a half-second) and 11th in the 100 freestyle with another personal best. Blair was seventh in both the 50 and 100 free and Wilson was seventh in the 100 backstroke. This collection of talent over the last four years is a success story all to its own. Each individual improved by leaps and bounds as the seasons moved along. They all came from different backgrounds. Some moved in from out of state or rekindled their love of the sport at the high school level after starring as a youth. Exchange students jumped into the mix. Others grew idolizing their older brother who swam for Scappoose and dreamed of one day donning the black and orange.
"They've given me a myriad of more stories to tell and use as motivation, to try to get across to future teams what it takes to be a champion," Richmond said. "No one's going to give you the crown, you surely have to earn it and battle for it. Scappoose has a tradition now and a strong one. There have been many great swimmers who came before and many great swimmers to come. As a coach, you just hope that these kinds of kids come in waves together and click like these boys and the girls from a handful of years ago did. What they can do together is exponentially more than if they come here and there. Looking back, it's been really something to see. Special things happen like they have these last four years and you get special outcomes as we have had. There have been many great swimmers who came before and many great swimmers to come. I can't wait for next year to see what a new season brings."
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