Swimmers nearing district, state showdowns

The Sweet Home swim team, down in numbers this year, came up just a little short in the four team Echo Hollow Invitational in Eugene last Saturday.

Up against competitors that had larger squads to pick up the extra points for placing in, Sweet Home made a valiant effort, with the girls taking second place behind LaSalle and the boys just edged out by the first place LaSalle team and Junction City. Marist finished a distant fourth in both divisions. In the girls events, LaSalle finished with 90 points, Sweet Home 83, and Junction City 80. The boys events were equally close, with LaSalle nudging out Junction City 87 to 77 with Sweet Home following at 73.

“Some pools are fast; some aren’t for different reasons,” said Doug Peargin, whose swimmers combined for 11 personal bests, though the Huskies did not taper for this meet. “In the history of our school, we swam as well as we ever have in that pool.”

Particularly Nichole Martin, a freshman, who swam the 8th fastest time in the 500 meter free style in the school’s history at 5:50.2. Martin, Dani Birky, and Anne Helfrich all had three victories on the day for the girls, two in relays where all three swam together. Katie Jones was the fourth member on both the relay teams. Birky won the 200 meter freestyle while Helfrich won the 50 meter freestyle.

As it is for all swimmers, Martin’s hard work, patience and work ethic has allowed her a measure of success. She is a year round club swimmer and the effort is showing in her freshman year.

“You have to be able to wake up every morning and go to practice and then go to another practice after school even when you are dead tired,” said Martin, who sees the same effort in her teammates which has made them a tightly knit group. “We have a bunch of new girls that haven’t swum before that are doing so good right now.”

In the boys events, the Huskies captured two first place awards. Sean Martin won the 500 meter freestyle and Larry Coulter triumphed in the 100 meter backstroke. Both were members of the second place 200 Medley Relay along with Jeff Stratman and Andrew Holmes.

Peargin knew that Junction City was tough, but LaSalle was a bit of a surprise. He couldn’t figure out what Marist’s problems were, since they have returning swimmers that defeated some of the returning Huskies last year but are losing to them now. As far as his own team, he feels Sweet Home’s chances in district, just two weeks away, hinge on the ability of the Huskies to overcome the numbers problem and have some of the younger swimmers have all time swims to pick up some of those underneath points.

“We don’t have a lot of kids that have been in club swim year round,” said Peargin, who still is satisfied with their progression. “We are right where we need to be.”

Earlier in the week, the Huskies won both the girls and boys divisions of a three way meet with Cascade and Silverton. The boys won handily over Cascade 83-55 with Silverton way back with 15 points. Sean Martin won both the 200 and 500 meter free style. Jeff Stratman also had two victories, the 100 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke, while Larry Coulter topped out in the 200 individual medley with a personal best. All three worked together to capture the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay. Anthony Erstgaard, a member of the medley relay team, and Matt Maloney, a participant on the 200 freestyle team, combined with James Davis and Cole Stumbough to take the 400 meter freestyle relay at the end of the meet.

Dani Birky and Nicole Martin led the girls with three victories each as the Huskies edged Silverton 62-57 with Cascade at 51. Birky won the 200 freestyle and Martin placed first in the 200 intermediate medley. Katie Jones also recorded a victory in the 500 meter freestyle.

Those three combined with Anne Helfrich to win the 400 meter relay and Helfrich, Birky, Martin, and Katie Stratman pulled out the win in the 200 meter freestyle relay.

Sean Martin, a senior, three year letterman and backbone of the boys team, is looking forward to the Pre-District meet at South Albany, the site of the district meet. So far Martin hasn’t had a chance to taper and produce his best work. The highly competitive Woodburn meet was snowed out, so they haven’t had the experience of the big meet.

“Woodburn is one of those momentum building meets,” said Martin. “At a meet like that, as a team, everyone comes together a lot better. Without that it’s tougher with just the smaller meets.”

Plus the swimmers have moved around from event to event, which doesn’t necessarily produce great times but keeps the other teams guessing about the placement in events of the Husky swimmers. Martin realizes that when the big meets come, without big numbers on the team, everyone will have to perform at their highest level.

“Even if we do get beat underneath,” said Martin, “I think we can dominate fairly well on top.”

The Albany meet will give the Huskies a chance to compete against all the other league teams they have not seen this year. Plus it gives some critical experience for many of the young Husky swimmers.

“It will give all those new kids a chance to swim in the district pool,” said Peargin. “Sometimes the size of the facilities can be overwhelming to the new kids.”

Meet time is Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.

Personal bests this week

Liz Andersen, two events; Katie Stratman, two events; Krystle Streight, 100 fly; Lilly Gilbert, two events; Staci Grove, 200 freestyle; Nicole Martin, two events; Katie Jones, two events; Jessica Trautwein, two events; Dani Birky, 200 freestyle; Anne Helfrich, 50 freestyle; James Davis, three events; Larry Coulter, 200 intermediate medley; Cole Stumbough, 50 meter freestyle; Anthony Erstgaard, two events; Peter Vanderlip, 100 breaststroke; Sean Martin, 200 meter intermediate medley.