This past Friday, the Hillsboro Spartan men’s and women’s swim team braved a frigid commute across town to take on the whole NWOC at the District Championships at Parkrose Swim Center.Due to the possibility of treacherous weather, the NWOC opted to shorten the two-day meet into one, meaning that all swimmers, without the chance to qualify for a second run at their prime events, had but one opportunity to chop time off their seasonal bests and qualify for the upcoming State Championship meet in Beaverton.
Despite the crowded pool and the added pressure of a one-and-done situation for each race, the Spartans attacked the meet from the get-go, with the men’s 200-Medley relay, featuring junior Jack Schaber (backstroke), sophomore Spencer McLin (breaststroke), senior Nathan Claxton (butterfly), and senior Trevor Griffin (freestyle), placing third overall and earning a coveted berth at State.
Shortly afterwards, junior Maya French, competing in perhaps the most competitive event at the meet – the top five entries were separated by a mere two seconds heading into the competition – the women’s 200-IM, slashed three seconds off of her seasonal best time. In what was one of the most exciting and rewarding swims of her season, she jumped up from her third seed to snatch victory and punch her first ticket to State.
McLin followed up his relay success with a win in the 200-IM, and he will be joined by Schaber at State.
Senior women’s captain Rena French successfully defended her District title in the 50-freestyle, notching her seasonal best time, and second-fastest of her career, and heading into State as the #2 seed.
Also swimming the 50-freestyle at State is sophomore Eric Gongora, competing in the Para division, along with the 100-freestyle shortly afterwards.
Senior Shawna Ashley Ingram, swimming in the final individual race of her high school career, dropped six seconds off of her best time in the 100-butterfly, totaling a whopping twenty-six for the season!
Minutes later, senior captain Claxton dominated the men’s 100-butterfly, and is currently seeded third in a tight field at State.
Jack Schaber cruised to a first-place finish in the longest event of the high school swimming discipline, the 500-freestyle, and will swim it at State, in addition to his 200-IM.
Seconds before the women’s 200-freestyle relay was to climb up onto the blocks, the meet was interrupted by the report of a nearby active shooter. Spartan swimmers, coaches, and fans alike showed poise and calm in the midst of this dangerous situation, and when it was resolved and the meet resumed, the team of Rena and Maya French, and sophomores Elena Kitchens and Arwen Nielsen thrashed the competition and earned a spot at State.
After a short break and despite her weariness from a long and action-packed day, Rena French was back in action one final time, in the 100-backstroke, where she demolished her lifetime record by three seconds and grabbed yet another slot at State, a fine end to her final Districts.
Fellow senior Nathan Claxton completed the sweep of the backstroke for the Spartans, easily claiming first place, and he heads into State as the #2 seed.
Spencer McLin squeezed into State with a second-place finish in the 100-breaststroke.
And, in the last heat of the final race of the day, the men’s 400-freestyle relay team of Griffin, Schaber, McLin, and Claxton came roaring back from an early deficit (they were fifth going into the second leg of the race) to finish second, narrowly out-touching the team from La Salle to nab the final seed at the upcoming State championship meet.
With four first-place finishes and two relays qualifying for State, the Spartan men finished fourth in the team standings, and due to an influx of depth and many swimmers stepping up and improving their seeding, the women took second in the NWOC, just edging out St. Helens by a mere three points.
The 5A Swimming State Championships will be held this coming Friday and Saturday, February 15-16, at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center, in Beaverton. The preliminary sessions begin at 1:45 PM on Friday, and the top six finishers in each event will return on Saturday, for championship finals, starting at 1:00 PM.
The ticket booth opens at 1:00 PM on Friday, and 12:15 PM on Saturday. The cost is $8.00 for adults, and $5.00 for students.