Husky swimmers a crowd favoritecapturing second place district trophies

Rhys Birky brought swimming fans to their feet Saturday at the district swimming finals in Albany.

Birky, the anchor leg of the 400 free relay squad, took to the water a full five seconds behind the leading Junction City squad.

He pushed hard, making up for lost time, and touching the pool sides a half-body length in the lead. He did so a full second ahead of his 100 yard championship time of 49.7.

“This was the race of the meet,” Coach Doug Peargin said of the event. “Birky had a great swim. He gave it all he had.”

“I was scared to death,” Birky said of the accomplishment. “all of the guys on the relay team were shaking before the race. We wanted to win it so much.”

Birky said his only thoughts were that “I knew I had to go fast.”

“There was so much noise from the crowd that Coach Kirkland couldn’t hear me talking to her and we were just inches from each other,” Coach Peargin said. “It was deafening.”

Sweet Home, whose teams were hit hard from talent lost to graduation last spring, turned in a dynamite performance, Coach Peargin said, as both squads brought home second place trophies.

“On paper, we shouldn’t have been able to touch Marist and Stayton beat us at home,” Coach Peargin said. “Everyone just swam to their very best.”

The proof was in the pudding for the Huskies. Of 38 swims, Husky boys marked 37 lifetime best times. Nearly as many girls made the mark as well.

“We just couldn’t have done any better,” Coach Peargin said. “Junction City brought 15 boys and placed 14 of them. We brought nine and placed eight in four events each. It was excellent.”

Qualifying for the state meet to be held Friday and Saturday at the Osborne Aquatic Center in Corvallis are boys Jeff Ecker, Rhys Birky, Adam Cheek and Sean Martin as the medley and 400 free relay teams.

Martin will compete in the 200 and 500 free races, Ecker will compete in the 200 free and 100 backstroke and Birky will compete in the 200 I.M. and 100 free.

Girls qualifying are Andrea Yunke, Nicole Starha, Megan Blank and Marie Duncan on the medley and 400 free relay teams.

Starha qualified as a wild card in the breast stroke as well.

Coach Peargin is optimistic about his teams’ chances.

“If we can better our times, we stand a good chance of placing because many swimmers peak at district,” Coach Peargin said.

Sweet Home qualified 16 swimmers from Friday’ first round into Saturday’s finals.

Girls Finals

Cascade, 232; Sweet Home, 197; Marist, 186; Stayton, 144; Junction city, 138; Philomath, 125; Molalla, 102; Sisters, 35; North Marion, 35; Elmira, 23; Jefferson, 22.

Girls Results

200 medley relay: SHHS, third, 2:06.3 (Yunke, Starha, Blank, Duncan).

200 freestyle: Jackson, 10th, 2:35.7.

200 I.M.: Starha, 2nd, 2:35.1; Foucht, 6th, 2:48.3.

50 freestyle: Blank, 4th, 27.8; Duncan, 5th, 28.3.

100 butterfly: Blank, 5th, 1:13.1; Vancleave, 10th, 1:27.5.

100 freestyle: Jackson, 12th, 1:10.7.

500 freestyle: Yunke, 3rd, 6:32.7; duncan, 4th, 6:40.2; Vancleave, 6th, 7:11.2; Gilliland, 8th, 7:26.9.

200 free relay: SHHS, 7th, 2:05.4 (Foucht, Jackson, Gilliland, Vancleave).

100 backstroke: Yunke, 2nd, 1:10.; Foucht, 5th, 1:15.2.

100 breast stroke: Starha, 2nd, 1:17.7.

400 free relay: SHHS, 2nd, 4:15.8 (Yunke, Duncan, Blank, Starha); SHHS B, 7th, 4:44.2 (Vancleave, Gilliland, Foucht, Jackson).

Boys Finals

Junction City, 273; Sweet Home, 247; Philomath, 158; Marist, 136; Molalla, 124; Cascade, 114; North Marion, 102; Stayton, 35; Sisters, 18; Jefferson, 7.

Boys Results

200 medley relay: SHHs, 1st, 1:49.2 (Ecker, Birky, Cheek, Martin).

200 freestyle: Martin, 1st, 2:01.8; Ecker, 2nd, 2:02.4; Burford, 6th, 2:14.8; Slauson, 12th, 2:24.7.

200 I.M.: Birky, 1st, 2:06.0; Cheek, 5th, 2:27.8; Bate, 6th, 2:31.4; Coulter, 7th, 2:37.3.

100 butterfly: Birky, 1st, 49.7.

500 freestyle: Martin, 2nd, 5:35.3; Bate, 4th, 5:54.4; Burford, 8th, 6:13.0; Slauson, 10th, 6:30.5.

200 free relay: SHHS, 5th, 1:47.6 (Coulter, Slauson, Bate, Burford).

100 backstroke: Ecker, 2nd, 1:02.7.

400 free relay: SHHS, 1st, 3:35.0 (Martin, Ecker, Cheek, Birky); SHHS B, 6th, 4:00.9 (Coulter, Slauson, Bate, Burford).