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Swimming big: Undermanned Tigers finish fifth at state

La Grande sophomore Bryce Ebel brought home the state title in the 50 and took second in the 100 butterfly. (Courtesy photo)
La Grande sophomore Bryce Ebel brought home the state title in the 50 and took second in the 100 butterfly. (Courtesy photo)
GRESHAM —A young La Grande High School boys swim team took fifth place at the OSAA 4A/3A/2A/1A state swimming championship meet held at Mount Hood Community College Friday and Saturday.  Three sophomores, Keegan Dutto, Bryce Ebel, and Josh Ebel combined with senior Emmitt Ambert to win medals in five events for the Tigers.  Medals (and team points) are given to the top six competitors in each event.  

“La Grande boys swam up in every event. I knew we could make some noise at state, but to finish fifth, just one place out of an award, was really awesome,” La Grande head coach Darren Dutto said.

The four took fifth in the 200-yard medley relay with Dutto swimming backstroke, Josh Ebel swimming breaststroke, Bryce Ebel swimming butterfly and Ambert anchoring with freestyle. The four combined to drop nearly three seconds, finishing with a time of 1:46.69.  

“The kids swam out of their mind on the medley relay. They finished 1/100th of a second out of fourth. Truly a great race. Emmitt really anchored the relay with strength. As our lone senior male swimmer, we will miss him next year,” Dutto said.

Bryce Ebel was crowned champion in the 50 freestyle, winning with a time of 22.65.  He also took second place in the 100 butterfly with a personal best time of 52.24.  

“Bryce really outdid himself at the state meet. He dominated the 50 free from start to finish, and this is really hard to do in such a short event. His butterfly was so close — a few more yards and he would have taken it. Both swims were personal best times, and after a season of rehabilitating an injury, a great success,” Dutto said.

Keegan Dutto grabbed fifth place in the 500 freestyle.  His time of 5:09.15 was a six -second drop from his previous personal best.  

“The state meet was exciting.  My goal was to earn a medal and I am happy to have achieved that goal,” said Keegan Dutto.  

He also placed 11th in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:00.17. This was a tough race because he only had five minutes rest after competing in the relay.

Josh Ebel placed sixth in the 100 backstroke with a personal best time of 57.87.  Ebel also took eighth in the 200 individual medley, in which he swam all four strokes.  “Josh is a very versatile swimmer. He medaled last year in the breaststroke, but decided to try a different event this year. Josh is very good at backstroke as well, as he proved here at state,” Dutto said.  

 
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