TIGER SWIMMERS TAKE ON ALL COMERS FRIDAY
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
A top two finish at the district swim meet for both the La Grande boys and girls is realistic, according to coach David Deming.
"I think the boys and girls have a shot at the district title this year," Deming said. "It's not beyond our reach."
La Grande hosts the district meet beginning Friday. The three-time state champion boys won the district title by one point last year, while the girls came in second.
Baker, La Salle, De La Salle North Catholic, Valley Catholic, Wilsonville, Gladstone, Sherwood and The Dalles will be there.
"We're excited," said Deming. "The kids are pumped and ready to go. We're excited to have these teams venture to eastern Oregon and swim in our pool and win in our territory. We'll see how it plays out this weekend."
Deming is excited about how well the girls have been finishing in their last big meets.
"They have had a strong showing," he said. "That will shed light on how district will come out."
Deming said he expects Sherwood to be fairly strong and Gladstone to be decent.
The Sherwood boys and girls were third at district last year. Gladstone was fourth on the boys' side and fifth on the girls' side.
"Depth is what's going to make a difference at district," he said. "State is about quality."
La Grande competed against eight of the district teams in The Dalles Invitational.
The top six finishers make the finals at district. Seventh through 12th place finishers are in the consolation finals.
Points are scored through 12th place at the district meet.
The top six go to state, and the top six score points at the state meet.
"That's what helps out as far as district," Deming said. "A lot of kids fill those spots (seventh through 12th) on the guys and girls."
Deming said there will be more boys in the top six rather than seventh through 12th.
He said the concern is the boys' lack of depth.
"Unless something happens, we'll win," Deming said.
Deming said the boys should win two relays and as many as six individual events.
Owen Kenton, Brenton Dowdy and Matt Hibbert should win four individual events, he said.
Deming said the breaststroke is there for the taking, and Josef Mielke has the potential to win the event.
On the girls' side, Kelsey Woodfield will swim one individual event and three relays.
Deming said Woodfield has the opportunity in the 50-yard freestyle to be in the top two or three in the event.
"It's wide open," he said.
Deming said Lindsay Waldrop is an extremely strong swimmer in the 200 and 500 freestyle.
"She'll for sure be in the top six and hopefully, in the top three in those events," he said.
He added that Elizabeth Esser is a top three swimmer in the 200 and 500 freestyle.
"I think Robyn Mills has a good shot in the breaststroke ... top six easy," Deming said. "From there, a lot of kids will surprise some people."
Deming said Jennifer Butler, Amy McMahan, Laura Martin and Bess Buzzard will surprise people.
He said at least the girls' 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays can finish in the top two or three.
Deming said the 200 freestyle relay is tough. Woodfield will swim on the 200 freestyle relay. She has not swam three relays before.
"She fills a major void on the 200 freestyle relay," he said.
The girls can score more points in relays than in individual events.
"If we finish in the top two or three in those relays, we'll be pretty good."
Eight teams will be competing at the district meet Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Pool. Both sessions kick off at noon.
The cost is $4 per session or $6 for a two-day pass. A heat sheet is included on both days.