North Bend High School Invitational

North Bend's Andy Ku competes Saturday in the boys 200-yard freestyle final event during the 27th annual North Bend High School Invitational at the North Bend Municipal Swimming Pool. Ku finished fifth in the event, won by teammate Kenneth Shepherd. 

NORTH BEND — After the equivalent of three meets in 24 hours, the Marshfield and North Bend swim teams were exhausted but excited about the upcoming season when the North Bend Invitational concluded Saturday afternoon.

“I’m really excited this season,” North Bend’s Craig Hoefs said after winning the 100-yard breaststroke final. “I knew a lot of new kids were coming in from the club team.”

Freshmen Mavrick Macalino and Gavyn Tatge each also won events to help the Bulldogs to the team title in the meet, which included prelims in the morning and finals in the afternoon. North Bend had gotten home late Friday night after a meet against Thurston in Springfield. Marshfield, meanwhile, had hosted a three-team meet at Mingus Park on Friday.

The plentiful races — up to six individual events and four relays for each swimmer over the two days — didn’t keep the two teams from performing well.

“We’ve already had some swimmers set PRs,” Marshfield senior Anna Hutchins said after winning a pair of individual races Saturday.

Both Marshfield teams finished second Saturday, with the girls finishing second to Grants Pass and the boys tying the Cavemen for second behind North Bend.

“We have a lot of depth this year,” Hutchins said. “There’s a lot of people who can swim multiple events. We have a lot of people who can swim fast.”

Both Marshfield squads are that way.

“I think we’ve got a lot of potential,” Marshfield senior AJ Kliewer said. “We are doing really good.”

Both Bay Area schools had multiple individual winners on Saturday.

Kenneth Shepherd got North Bend’s boys going with a victory in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:53.12. Tatge followed by racing to a win in the 200 individual medley, edging Roseburg’s Dominic Colvin by .09 seconds with his time of 2:08.23.

Macalino sped to an impressive time of 56.89 to win the 100 butterfly by more than 3 seconds and Tatge took the 500 freestyle by 15 seconds with his time of 5:05.07.

Hoefs won the breaststroke in 1:05.20, three seconds ahead of teammate Zachary Holt.

The four North Bend swimmers with individual wins also teamed to give the Bulldogs victories in both the 200 medley relay (in 1:47.82) and 400 freestyle relay (in 3:35.32).

Marshfield’s boys didn’t get any wins, but Connor Fromm was second in the butterfly and Kliewer, Fromm, Frankie Figueroa and Brian Place teamed to take second in the 200 freestyle relay.

Hutchins won the 100 freestyle in 56.40 seconds and the individual medley in 2:19.26 for Marshfield’s girls. Teammate Kady Cooley took the 500 freestyle in 5:52.84.

Hutchins and Cooley teamed with Paige Kirchner and Brianna Billeter to place second in both the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays.

North Bend, meanwhile, got wins by Natalie Cheal in the butterfly (1:04.33) and Annika Strasman in the backstroke (1:05.91). Makenna Roberts placed second in both the 200 freestyle and breaststroke.

Strasman, Maria Knight, Kristina Powley and Angie Allman combined to take second in the medley relay for the Bulldogs.

While the local swimmers were generally excited about their performances, they were more excited about how their teams are coming together.

“Just with these last two meets, I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” Cheal said. “We bond really well together as a family.”

“Our team chemistry is pretty good,” added Hoefs.

Kliewer agreed about Marshfield’s squad.

“I’m really excited,” he said.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.