NORTH BEND — North Bend’s swim teams positioned themselves for a sweep of the titles in the Class 4A-3A-2A-1A District 4 championships on Friday at North Bend Municipal Pool while swimmers from 13 different schools jockeyed for the best lanes for Saturday’s finals.
All team scoring comes Saturday, but the host Bulldogs had a strong day in qualifying, having at least two of the six finalists in every individual event.
Throw in the top qualifying times in all of the relays, which count double, and North Bend was in great shape heading into the final day.
In addition to pursuing team titles, the swimmers are battling for spots in next weekend’s state meet at Gresham. The winners of each event at four district meets around the state this weekend advance, along with the fastest eight swimmers in each event who aren’t district champions.
Traditionally, that means a lot of swimmers from the meet in North Bend. The district includes a number of the state’s best athletes.
They had mixed attitudes about how to approach the preliminaries Friday.
TJ Morgan of Henley, the top seed in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races, went all out in his races.
“The better time I get today will push me to get a better time tomorrow,” he said, after clocking season-best times of 22.03 seconds in the 50 and 49.51 in the 100.
“I’m pretty happy with that,” he said, adding that he prefers the longer of the two sprints. “You have more time in the water to make up any time you lose on the start or a bad turn,” he said.
Marshfield’s Anna Hutchins, who had the top times in both the 200 and 500 freestyle, said her focus was just on winning her heats as easily as possible. She was looking ahead to Saturday.
“I’m so excited,” she said, adding that swimming next to a pair of North Bend swimmers will be fun.
She said Makenna Roberts, who will be next to her in the 500 freestyle, is a longtime family friend. And Bella Jones, her top competition in the 200 freestyle, is “like my little sister.”
“She’s like a mini me except that I can’t swim breaststroke,” Hutchins said.
North Bend’s Vianka Hoyer, a multi-time state champion in individual races and relays, celebrated her 18th birthday Friday by qualifying first in the 50 freestyle and the butterfly.
“I’m happy with both my races,” she said. “I think I can go faster tomorrow for sure.”
Hoyer also was excited for her teammates as North Bend had a big day.
“Everyone is doing really well,” she said.
Hutchins had the same feeling for the Pirates, who also had a good day in qualifying.
“Our team has had pretty strong swims all day long,” she said. “It’s awesome to see how happy they get (when they have big improvements). It makes me do so much better.”
Though they advanced only a few swimmers through to Saturday, Reedsport’s swimmers also had a good day, coach Guy Marchione said.
“They all had personal improvements today,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking for.”
Marchione restored the program this winter at the request of a couple of students who had been swimmers at other schools. Nearly all of his team was new to competitive swimming.
Other top seeds among the girls Friday were North Bend’s Natalie Cheal in the individual medley, Sarah Kuykendall in the backstroke and Sierra Trichler in the breaststroke; and Maryn Ringger of St. Mary’s in the 100 freestyle.
Other boys to earn top seeds were North Bend’s Ryan Trichler in the individual medley and 500 freestyle, Kenneth Shepherd in the 200 freestyle, Logan Lampe in the backstroke and Zachary Holt in the breaststroke; Alec Shepherd of Phoenix in the butterfly.
The finals start at 11 a.m. Saturday at North Bend pool. Three heats will be contested in the individual events, though only the swimmers in the final heat and consolation heat will score.