SWIM BOYS SHOOT FOR THIRD STRAIGHT STATE TITLE
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
Is there a lot of pressure on the La Grande boys to win their third straight swimming title Saturday?
"Not too much," junior Owen Kenton said. "We're relaxed now. We know we can win."
Kenton is seeded second in the 200-yard individual medley and seventh in the 500 freestyle. He is also on the No. 1-seeded 200 medley relay (1 minute, 43.80 seconds) and 400 freestyle relay (3.25.80). Both relays set records at the district meet Saturday in Woodburn.
He said the boys have plenty of depth for the state meet.
"I think we stand a good chance of doing good," he said.
Freshman Josef Mielke agrees with Kenton.
He said they have a lot of No. 1 seeds and are a really solid group.
"I think we got a good shot at it," Mielke said. "Never can guarantee that we'll win it."
Mielke is seeded eighth in the 100 breaststroke and is on the 200 medley relay.
He said the swimmers have worked hard during the season and made a push at district to get where they are now.
Juniors Brenton Dowdy and Matt Hibbert are each seeded No. 1 in their individual events.
Dowdy is seeded first in the 50 freestyle (22.15) and 100 freestyle (47.95). Dowdy's 100 freestyle time was a district record by two seconds.
Hibbert has the No. 1 seeds in the 100 butterfly (53.72) and 100 backstroke (56.19). Hibbert beat Dowdy's 100 butterfly district record (54.05) from last year.
Dowdy and Hibbert are both on the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay. Sophomore Jeremy Younggren is on the 400 freestyle relay.
The La Grande girls ended up second at district and hope to do well this weekend.
"I think just mainly moving up in places and getting better times" is the focus, junior Elizabeth Esser said.
Esser is seeded fifth in the 200 freestyle and 10th in the 500 freestyle. She is also on the eighth seeded 400 freestyle relay.
None of the girls have No. 1 seeds in their individual or relay events like the boys.
But Esser said if everyone improves and get their times down, "we won't walk away disappointed."
The 400 freestyle relay also consists of freshman Lindsay Waldrop and sophomores Amy McMahan and Kelsey Woodfield.
Woodfield, McMahan, freshman Robyn Mills and sophomore Laura Martin are on the eighth seeded 200 medley relay.
Waldrop is seeded ninth in the 200 freestyle and 12th in the 500 freestyle. Robyn Mills is seeded 10th in the 100 breaststroke.
The 3A/2A/1A swimming state championships begin Friday and continue through Saturday at Mount Hood Community College.