Garren Dutto put a nice finishing touch on his swimming career and helped get the La Grande Tigers boys team back on the podium.
The LHS senior won two individual state titles and swam legs on two top-three relay teams to lift the Tigers to a third-place finish at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state meet Friday and Saturday at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.
“To me it was just a fitting finish for him,” Darren Dutto, LHS head coach and Garren’s father, said. “To have him go out on top, have some good swims and dominate the field was a testament to him. It was great feeling.”
Garren Dutto came away with the top spot in the boys 50-yard freestyle (21.73 seconds) and repeated as champion in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.63 seconds.
It’s the second year in a row Dutto has claimed two individual titles. In addition to winning the 100 freestyle a year ago, he also won the 100 backstroke. The victories give him five individual championships — seven total, as he was also part of two winning relays in his career.
“I don’t think there really was a better way that could have gone,” he said. “I had great swims (and) the team placed really well.”
Dutto also swam the third leg of the 200 medley relay, as he, T.J. Clay, Grayson Jensen and Caden Ricker placed second with a time of 1:44.42. The same group later took third in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:34.20.
Darren Dutto said when he saw the way the relay teams performed in the preliminaries on Friday, he felt good about the team’s chances to place.
“(After) those performances, I had a lot of confidence going into Saturday that we were going to be in the mix,” he said.
One additional individual reached the finals and placed for the Tigers, as Clay finished in sixth place in the 100 backstroke with a time of 59.21 seconds.
It all added up to 33 points and a third-place trophy for La Grande, which a year ago took fifth and missed taking home a trophy. The Tigers finished second in 2017.
Newport was the runaway state champion with 90 points, while Marshfield was second with 46 points.
Newport’s dominance, in fact, may have aided in La Grande getting third.
“I wasn’t sure how we were going to do. It depended on the other teams,” Garren Dutto said. “Basically Newport stole all the points and it left room for other teams like us (who didn’t have many athletes there).”
The La Grande girls also returned to the podium, nearly duplicating the effort of the boys team with 32 points and a third-place finish. The LHS girls placed sixth a year ago and were third in 2017.
“I never really thought about (where we would place),” junior Romayne Ricker said. “Dutto said he thought we could. It was great to get back on the podium.”
Sweet Home was the team champion with 69 points. Catlin Gabel was second with 50.
“The girls team put together a solid all-around effort. That was the key,” Darren Dutto said.
Three second-place finishes — one of which was a tie for second place — boosted La Grande. The Tigers opened the finals Saturday with Aryana Bouten, Ricker, Kristal Jensen and Reagan Kruse tying with Tillamook for second in the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:55.02.
Later, the 200 freestyle relay team of Romayne and Laramie Ricker, Kruse and Jensen placed second (1:43.81). Individually, the Tigers got a second-place showing from Romayne Ricker in the 200 individual medley (2:10.25). The junior also placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.61).
Jensen, in addition to her role on the relay teams, finished third in the 100 butterfly (1.00.13). Kennedy Kruse rounded out the placers for the LHS girls, taking sixth in the 500 freestyle in a time of 5:34.54, 14 seconds faster than her time at the district meet.
“That was probably the swim of the meet for me. That (effort) inspires all the kids,” he said.
He called the overall performance “a great weekend,” and added, “The kids swam so well.”