Connections between programs intensify looming end of NWOC rivalry

by: GREG ARTMAN / FILE - Wilsonville sophomore Noah Norris edged Milwaukie sophomore Jared Dana in two events Jan. 30 at North Clackamas Aquatic Center. The Wildcats swept the boys and girls team contests.It’s difficult for Deb Mandeville to take sides when the Wilsonville swimming team faces Sherwood.

Although she coaches the Wildcats, she also mentors athletes from the rival school through her position as the Sherwood YMCA Dragons club coach.

“It’s always an interesting meet for me because I coach a lot of their kids the rest of the year,” Mandeville said. “It’s a fun meet. I cheer for everybody.”

But this year’s edition of the rivalry, which is slated for 4 p.m. Feb. 6 at Tualatin High School’s pool, carries added significance because it’s the last one before the Bowmen leave the Northwest Oregon Conference as part of their jump to Class 6A.

Mandeville expects her team’s league finale to be a competitive meet that will serve as quality preparation for the Feb. 13-14 NWOC championships at Parkrose High School in Portland.

“That’s a good one to have last,” she said. “They’ll be excited, and it’ll get us ready for districts.”

Mandeville and her Wilsonville swimmers crossed paths with Sherwood before their Jan. 30 dual meet against Milwaukie, which was held at North Clackamas Aquatic Park in Milwaukie. The Bowmen were wrapping up their competition against Putnam.

The fierce but friendly swimming rivalry extends beyond the water, too, because Sherwood coach Lalanya Fisher has served as Mandeville’s assistant on the club team.

“We’re good friends, and I love all the kids,” Mandeville said. “They came over and gave me hugs.”

The interactions preceded lopsided wins for Mandeville’s team, which overwhelmed the small Milwaukie squad with its talent and depth. The Wildcats won 124-51 on the boys side and 121-27 in the girls contest.

The boys meet featured back-to-back battles between Wilsonville sophomore Noah Norris and Milwaukie sophomore Jared Dana, two of the league’s rising stars.

Norris clocked in at 22.39 seconds to defeat Dana (24.03) in the 50-yard freestyle race, and he also won the 100 butterfly event with a time of 54.90. Dana logged a 56.13.

But Dana provided welcome challenges for Norris, a North Marion transfer who “has not had very much competition all season,” Mandeville said. In the Wildcats’ dual against league-leading Liberty, some potential competitors for Norris were participating at the Washington Open club meet in Federal Way, Wash.

“Jared placed really high at districts last year, so that says good things about Noah’s chances,” Mandeville said. “But we’re still trying to decide where he would be most effective.”

Wilsonville won several other events against the Mustangs. Wildcats sophomore Drew Zimmerman took first place in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle races, freshman Derek Webb cruised to top honors in the 200 individual medley and 500 free and sophomore Kyle Ruud clocked the fastest time in the 100 backstroke.

Standout freshman Chris Glaess (illness) did not compete.

On the girls side, victorious Wilsonville swimmers included Austyn Roelofs (100 free and 200 free), Christie Halverson (50 free and 100 breaststroke), Emma Harms (200 individual medley), Heather Leitz (100 fly) and Carolina Ramirez-Islas (500 free).

“I tried to put everybody in off events so they don’t get stale in the ones they do all the time,” Mandeville said.

Although the Wildcats won handily, Mandeville said she was more impressed with how her swimmers conducted themselves during the meet.

“Many of the Milwaukie parents and some kids came over to compliment our swimmers on their sportsmanship,” she said. “They encouraged (the Mustangs) when they were behind. I was proud of them.”



Jan. 30 at North Clackamas Aquatic Park (Milwaukie)

Boys: Wilsonville 124, Milwaukie 51

Girls: Wilsonville 121, Milwaukie 27

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