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Metro swim race should be a battle royal

Jesuit, Westview, Southridge and Sunset will all compete


Metro League girls swimming has long been the home of titans.

There’s four-time defending state champion Jesuit, a team that is back to chase a fifth straight 6A crown.

There’s powerful Westview, which took state titles in each of the four years before Jesuit’s reign and hopes to challenge again this season.

by: MILES VANCE - BACK FOR MORE - Jesuit's Caitlin McMahon and the rest of her Crusader teammates are back to chase a fifth straight Class 6A state championship in 2013.

There’s also talent aplenty at Southridge and Sunset, and new hope at Aloha and Beaverton for the 2012-13 Metro race. In short, it’s going to be a great season and an exciting race this year.

“This year, there is going to be some serious competition from Westview, Sunset, Southridge and Jesuit,” said Westview coach Audra DeFrance Gilman. “Honestly, I would love for Westview to win the girls (but) it will be very hard to do (because of) Southridge and Jesuit’s strong girls teams.”

“I think it will come down to Jesuit, Westview and us,” said Sunset coach Adam Farber. “Those three will be up top, but the Metro will be a battle every day out.”

“I don’t worry a lot about what the other teams have, but we’re lucky to be in a league with teams that have won multiple state titles,” said Southridge coach Jeff Crews.

Following are previews of the varsity girls swim teams at the six Beaverton-area Metro League schools.

ALOHA

ALOHA — In some ways, Aloha is starting fresh in 2012-13.

The Warriors don’t return an individual district placewinner and sport a roster where three-quarters of its swimmers are new.

That said, Aloha is excited about what’s ahead.

“We have a great group of experienced swimmers (but) three quarters of the team is new,” Aloha coach Lisa Leslie said. “We are excited to see so many new young swimmers with the next few years to build on technique and stamina. (I think) district will be the time that Aloha will shine its brightest.”

This year’s Aloha team will be led by senior Grace Lee (freestyle), senior Mackenzie Torres (breaststroke, 500 free), senior Hanna Vinkemulder (IM, butterfly, breaststroke), senior Ashley Eddy (50 and 100 free), and junior Sara Emerick (butterfly, freestyle). Joining Torres, Eddy and Emerick as team captains will be senior Christina Budiselic.

“We have a lot of great leadership on the team this year,” Leslie said. “Our leadership team of Mackenzie Torres, Christina Budiselic, Ashley Eddy and Sara Emerick is a great combination of girls to keep things running smoothly. I can always count on them for anything.”

Both Lee and Vinkemulder swam on district relay teams last year and hope to help the Warriors make a more prominent impact in 2012-13.

“With no club swimmers, it is the Warrior spirit with which these ladies will thrive,” Leslie added. “If commitment and determination are measurement of what is to come, watch out” for us at district.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — Beaverton knows it won’t be easy in 2012-13.

The Beavers know too that they’ll have to face some of the state’s best teams in their own league.

But they also know they’re ready for the challenge.

“Beaverton is a fairly young team with only a few year-round swimmers ... (but) we set attainable team and individual goals, and when they are achieved, we have been successful,” said Beaverton coach Judy Rusaw, who takes over as head coach after serving the previous three years as a Beaverton assistant.

Rusaw, who earlier led the Hillsboro High program for 24 years and also coached the Hillsboro Heat Club program, said that this year’s girls team would be led by senior captain Katilyn Wright (she’ll swim freestyle events) and junior Samantha Otis (she’ll swim the butterfly and individual medley).

Wright and Otis’ “maturity and experience in this sport gives them the qualities needed for leadership,” Rusaw said.

Other front-line swimmers for the Beavers this year will likely be freshman Marina Odegard (backstroke), freshman Ingrid Erickson (breaststroke), sophomore Monika Helak (freestyle), freshman Cienna Wall (freestyle), junior Isabella Shoop (freestyle), senior Rachel Barzen (freestyle), senior Nicole Almanza (freestyle) and junior Tamara Rutherford (freestyle).

Regardless of wins and losses, Rusaw is looking forward to working with the swimmers on her first team as head coach at Beaverton.

“Each member of my teams are important to me and the success we share,” she said.

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — It started before this year’s seniors ever got to Jesuit.

But those seniors are unquestionably committed to seeing it continue.

The “it” in this case is Jesuit’s four-year winning streak at state, which started back in 2009 and has encompassed 23 straight Metro League wins (including last week’s 2012-13 season opener) and four straight Metro district championships.

Winning again is “in the back of our minds. We’re definitely thinking about it, but you never know what’s going to happen,” said Jesuit coach Bryan Butcher. “We just focus on the present and work hard.”

It’s a formula that has worked well in the past and should again with this year’s team, which will be led by senior captain Kelsey Forster and returning district champions Blaise Wittenauer-Lee (a senior who took the Metro 200 IM and placed fourth at state, and won the 500 free at both district and state), and Megan Harper (a junior who topped the Metro backstroke and took fifth at state). Forster was second in the Metro 50 free and third in the 100 free, then took sixth in the state 50 free.

Forster is “doing a great job. She’s the one who sets the tone,” Butcher said.

There’s more talent on hand, too, and a lot of it, including the following swimmers (with their district/state finishes in parentheses): senior Kathleen McCarroll (second in the butterfly and fifth in the back); senior Caitlin McMahon (second in the IM and third in the back/third in the IM and sixth in the back); junior Zofia Zdanowicz (fifth in the Metro 50 and 100 free); and freshmen Erin Perry, Emily Holman, Elizabeth Reynaud and Amy Piercy.

“We just want to work hard, make good decisions, and hopefully, by the end of the year, be at our best,” Butcher said.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — Southridge enters the 2012-13 season with a brand-new head coach, but the same old desire to win a place among the Metro League’s best.

“I think our girls team could be just as competitive as our boys,” said Southridge coach Jeff Crews, who takes over as head coach after serving the previous four years as assistant to Rod Harman. “We’ll see where we stand when we face Jesuit this week.”

This year’s Skyhawk crew will be led by senior captains Jessica Li (she’s the reigning Metro champ in the breaststroke and also took fourth in the 2012 Metro IM) and Sarah Braun (she was second in the 2012 Metro backstroke and third in the 50 free).

“They both have three years experience and I expect both to compete in the state finals this year,” Crews said. “If there was ever a time where your two fastest kids are also your best competitors and your social leaders, this is it. They just do everything without even being asked.”

Southridge will also count on several more experienced returners in juniors Jessica Sparks (she was third in the 2012 Metro 500 free and sixth in the 200), Jackie Sparks (eighth in the Metro IM), Ally Hanson-Holtry (freestyle) and Sydney Schickendane (freestyle), as well as on talented freshmen Kristin Young and Allie Engstrom.

“Jackie and Jessica Sparks have both improved a lot since last year, and Sydney is already one of our top 50 freestylers,” said Crews, a Program Supervisor and longtime youth swim coach with Tualatin Hills. “I’m excited to see how they help the team develop.”

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — The Sunset boys swim team has been so good for so long, it’s easy to forget that the Apollo girls have fielded some pretty strong teams, too.

Sunset hopes that this year’s girls team helps get the word out a little better.

“We definitely have some speed up front,” said Sunset coach Adam Farber. “We should fare pretty well in league if I can put a lineup together. “

This year, the Apollos will be led by two experienced swimmers and a handful of talented underclassmen. Those two veteran leaders are senior Marita Sailor, who returns to the team after a two-year absence (she was second in the 2010 Metro 500 free and fourth in the IM), and junior Haley Fellows (she took second in the Metro breaststroke and fifth in the IM last year).

This year’s top-notch underclassmen are freshman Nina Stitt (breaststroke, 200 and 500 freestyle), sophomore Emily Cheng (freestyle, backstroke), freshman Abby White (butterfly, 50 and 100 free), sophomore Emily Ortner (all-around, IM) and freshman Camille Andre (50 and 100 free).

“Points-wise, I’m looking at Cheng, Sailor, Stitt and Ortner to come through because they’re all real versatile,” Farber said. “We’ve got to fill in at the back end, but it’s very exciting to have both boys and girls teams be so competitive.”

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview has been right there with the Metro League’s best teams for a very long time.

That isn’t likely to change in 2012-13, and indeed, the Wildcats believe that they may just end up on top this year.

“I am hoping to come in the top few spots for our girls team,” said Westview coach Audra DeFrance Gilman. But “no matter how we fare this year, we are always going to be a strong team ... and I am always proud of each and every one of” my swimmers.

If they do, the return of senior Michelle Cefal — she spent the last two years solely as a club swimmer — will likely play a huge role in that success. As a freshman, Cefal was a Metro champion in the 50 freestyle and runner-up in the butterfly, and went on to take fourth in the fly at state and seventh in the 50.

Joining her at the forefront of the Cats’ lineup will be: sophomore Tiffany Zhao (breaststroke), sophomore Sophia Zhou (she was fourth in the Metro 100 free a year ago and fifth in the 200 free), sophomore Tiffany Huang (she was fifth in the Metro fly last year), and sophomore Cindy Chou (she was eighth in the backstroke in 2012).

“In terms of who are the best leaders and swimmers the list is too long,” DeFrance Gilman said. “I am very proud of how dedicated my team is and how much heart and soul they put into practice, the meets and the program.”




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