LA GRANDE — The La Grande girls swim team barely looked like a squad that hadn’t competed in a meet in weeks.
Instead, the Tigers resembled a group ready for the upcoming district and state swim competitions.
The LHS girls won nine of their 11 races and set three meet records as they dominated Saturday’s La Grande swim meet, the final tune-up before the district swim meet in Molalla in two weeks.
“We haven’t had a meet for a month, and so to come in today and have good all-around performances all across the board, I mean I thought we had great swims up and down, from top to bottom, front to back, it was great to see that,” LHS head coach Darren Dutto said. “So I think were in really good spot. The girls are looking really solid.”
Dutto said he wasn’t surprised by the performances, even with the length of time between meets.
“I know the work that everybody has been putting in, and I know that we’ve been focused on getting ready to swim,” he said. “I’m not surprised by it. I am pleased when it really works and it comes together and they are able to perform. I think for me that’s great to see. And again, it’s everybody. We had so many best times.”
The Tigers set the tone for the meet in the first race when seniors Riana Scott, Romayne Ricker, Kristal Jensen and Maria Capra — on LHS’s senior-day celebration — shattered a meet record in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:53.96. The previous mark that stood since Scott, Ricker and Jensen swam on the previous record-setting team at this meet in 2017.
“It’s really cool to circle back around and do it again,” said Scott, who in addition to the medley relay win took first in the 200 freestyle in 2:04.87, second in the 100 backstroke in 1:01.34, and swam on the winning 400 freestyle relay with Kennedy Kruse, Laramie Ricker and Reagan Kruse in 3:58.54.
The win by the final relay team — which came about a second shy of setting a meet record — capped a sweep of the relays for the LHS girls. Romayne Ricker, Reagan Kruse, Capra and Jensen shattered the previous meet record in the 200 freestyle relay by more than two seconds with a winning time of 1:46.03.
“That’s what we were shooting for, and we're really proud of ourselves, and we're really excited, and we can go even faster,” Ricker said.
The senior finished with two more individual victories — and nearly came away with two more meet records. Ricker broke her own mark in the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.19, and posted a time of 2:15.96 to win the 200 individual medley, falling short of a meet record set by Scott by just 0.02 seconds.
“I didn’t know I broke any records, except for the relays," Ricker said.
Jensen, one of 17 seniors who was recognized on what many called a bittersweet senior day, said one of the biggest challenges in having a long stretch between meets — the Tigers hadn’t competed since Jan. 4 in Lebanon — was knowing where you stacked up against other competition.
“It gets you down a little bit not having a meet, because it’s just practice six days a week over and over and over again, but it’s good to know that at this meet everything paid off,” Jensen said. “It’s hard when you don’t have (meets), but when you finally do have them it’s pretty great.”
Individually, the Tigers also picked up victories from Reagan Kruse in the 100 freestyle in 58.79, Kennedy Kruse in the 500 freestyle in 5:44.86, and Capra in the 50 freestyle in 25.54 seconds.
“I think that we did really well, and I think that just being with the team and cheering everybody on and being a team is the best part,” Reagan Kruse said. “…I think we do well because we are a team, and we work together really well.”
The wins by Capra and Kennedy Kruse came as part of 1-2 finishes for LHS in those races with Jensen (26.72) taking second in the 50 freestyle, and Chloe Lynch (5:54.92) second in the 500 freestyle.
LHS also snagged three more second-place finishes from Kennedy Kruse in the 200 freestyle (2:07.27), Lynch in the 200 IM (2:27.09) and Capra in the 100 butterfly (1:01.86). The 100 butterfly, in fact, saw three swimmers shatter the previous meet record with Baker’s Brianna Stadler winning the race in 1:00.58 and Jensen taking third in 1:02.35. The prior mark was 1:03.53.
The LHS boys took second, led by a pair of victories from Glenn Ricker, who took first in the 100 butterfly in 56.44, and in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.73.
The Tigers also racked up four second-place finishes: the 200 medley of TJ Clay, Jack Seydel, Ricker and James Thurman in 1:53.38; Clay in the 100 freestyle in 54.43; Ricker, Kobe Cooper, Thurman and Clay in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:39.38; and Gabriel Zamora, Adam Remily, Max Huxoll and Cooper in the 400 freestyle relay in 4:06.37.
Tim Koza led Cove by winning the 200 IM in 2:10.28 and the 500 freestyle in 5:20.59, while Taylor Fox was second in the 50 freestyle (24.08) and the 100 freestyle (1:02.30).
The teams next compete Feb. 14-15 at the district swim meet in Molalla.