It was about family.
It was about friends. It was about hard work. It was about determination. It was about enjoyment. It was about smiling.
And, in the end, it was about a state championship.
Jacob Folsom, a Sherwood High School senior, inspired by so many things, captured a state title in the 200-yard freestyle event at the Class 6A state swimming championships, which concluded Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.
"It actually means a lot, because, coming from my swimming family, and seeing my brother coming in second at state, winning a state championship for myself really means a lot to me, especially with my family and friends being here to support me," a smiling Folsom said at the end of the meet. "I was happy-sad. I'm a senior, so this is the last meet I'll swim in for high school. But, all things considered, it means a lot to me that I'm with people I love. I feel that I've taught a lot of people on my team that swimming is supposed to be fun, you're supposed to be happy and enjoy it."
The state championship won by Folsom, who also was a very-close second in the 100 freestyle event, provided the highlight for a big state-meet performance by the Bowmen teams, which also saw a pair of boys relay teams and senior Hunter Stewart, for the Sherwood girls, reach Saturday's championship finals.
"This has honestly been my favorite season, beyond anything I could imagine," Stewart said with a smile.
"This has been awesome," Folsom said. "It's incredible."
Folsom, with members of his family, including his older brother Andrew, who helped the Sherwood boys win Class 3A/2A/1A state swimming team championships in 2005 and 2006, in attendance, was first in action on Saturday in the 200 freestyle finals.
Folsom took the lead right from the start, but had Lakeridge senior standout Jay Heymann right behind him. Going into the final 50 yards of the race, Folsom led Heymann and Cleveland sophomore Cody Soo by less than a second. But, maybe saving his best for last, Folsom powered through those last 50 yards to pull away and win in a time of 1 minute, 39.07 seconds. Heymann was second at 1:40.60, and Soo took third at 1:40.73.
"Yesterday (in the preliminaries) was one of the smoothest races I've ever swam, but, today it hurt," Folsom said. "But I was like, 'I'm not going to let anyone take this from me.' At then end, I really felt that every stroke I'd taken the past six months went into it, and I had power that forced me through that last 50."
Moments after the finish, Folsom looked over at his Sherwood coaches, Kristen Maples and Quentin Rienents, got a big smile on his face and raised his fist in the air.
"It was disbelief," Folsom said of his emotions. "I didn't believe it after coming from last year, in the 200 (individual medley) and 100 free, where I placed 11th and 12th. The difference was determination, and knowing that this year, I could actually do it."
Folsom came oh-so-close to winning two state championships, as he finished second in the 100 freestyle in Saturday's finals in a time of 45.82, putting him just .05 behind Soo, who won in 45.77.
"I actually screwed up my last turn," Folsom said. "I slipped on the wall, slightly, and that caused my foot to slide under. I tried so hard to get back up, but he was right on my tail."
At the end of the race, Folsom, with another big smile on his face, reached over and congratulated Soo.
"I talked to Cody, and he's one of those people too, that swimming is about joy," said Folsom, who will swim collegiately at Grand Canyon University. "It's really awesome to find people that radiate the same thing that I do."
Folsom also swam for the Sherwood 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, which both qualified for Saturday's championship finals.
"That was amazing," Folsom said. "At the beginning of this year, I didn't think our relays we were going to make it. A lot of our faster swimmers from last year left as seniors. But, bringing two relays, and making finals, I was over the moon, especially with our freshman, Andrew Pessemier, he crushed it yesterday. The relays are special to me, that's the place I get to swim with my team, and have fun with them."
In the 400 freestyle relay, the Sherwood team of senior Rashun Hoskins, sophomore Seth Hochstetler, junior Sandy Patil and Folsom finished in eighth place in a time of 3:18.77. In the 200 freestyle relay, the Bowmen combination of Folsom, Hoskins, junior Sam Jewitt and Patil finished in ninth place with a mark of 1:31.60.
The Sherwood boys finished in 11th place in the team standings at the state meet with 24 points.
Stewart capped off her senior year by swimming to seventh place in the 500 freestyle finals with a time of 5:19.92.
Stewart had a strong finish to the race, passing Jesuit's Anneli Goddard, and then getting by Lincoln's Katherine Lochner in the last 50 yards, to place seventh.
"It went really well. I think I did better yesterday, in prelims, but it was a good race with all the girls," Stewart said. "I'm definitely better in the back half, than the beginning, but the whole race is fun."
The finals also marked a season in which Stewart showed a lot of improvement since starting with the Sherwood squad.
"It meant a lot, especially coming from my freshman year, when I barely made it to the podium at districts. It's been a crazy year," Hunter said. "This club season, I've been training harder than ever, especially in distance events. I think this was a good way to go out."
Jesuit won both the Class 6A boys and girls state team championships.
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