Now that the Athens Olympics are over with, Grant senior Jessica Embick can concentrate on winning a state swim title and perhaps leading the Generals to the Portland Interscholastic League girls title.
Grant has several of the top swimmers in the district, including Embick, who spent last year training for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-meter breaststroke.
She missed qualifying for the Trials by less than half a second, but she leads the PIL in the event and is part of the Generals' 200-yard freestyle relay that is closing in on the district record, set in 1997.
And yet, the Generals are something of a longshot to win the district meet Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 at the Matt Dishman Community Center.
'We struggle with depth,' says assistant coach Sean Tyrell, whose wife, Laura, is the head coach. 'We've got the numbers up from 30 last year to 45, but we're still not quite deep enough to contend with some other programs in the league. But we plan on sending a lot of swimmers to state.'
In addition to Embick, whose breaststroke mark is nearly five seconds ahead of the second-best time, Grant also features freshman Kristen Sharp. She has the district's best time in the 50-yard freestyle.
Teams are allowed to enter four swimmers in each individual event at the district meet.
'That's the thing that gets us Ñ depth,' he says. 'In our boys dual meet with Cleveland, we won eight of the 11 events but still lost the dual because they were just deeper.'
Grant, Lincoln, Cleveland and Wilson are expected to compete in a tight race for the girls title.
Embick swam at Lincoln as a sophomore and helped the Cardinals' 400-yard relay team win the state title. Lincoln coach Lauren Thies is the last PIL swimmer to win an individual event at the girls state meet, taking the 500-yard freestyle in 1997. Lincoln's Luke Ekhoff won the 100 breaststroke at the boys meet in 2000.
The state meet is Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 at Mt. Hood Community College.
• The Journeys Foundation, which supports the Inner City Players club sports program, is planning to expand into track and field this spring, according to director Canaan Chatman.
ICP, founded in 1997 as something of an offshoot of Self Enhancement Inc., already has programs in basketball and football. The program's marquee graduating class in 2002 included Pac-10 basketball players Chris Rodgers (Arizona), Chris Stephens (OSU) and Brandon Lincoln (Oregon).
Chatman says one of his goals for the nonprofit Journeys Foundation is to begin developing a facility by 2007.
ICP is the host club for the Rose City Showcase AAU basketball tournament, which takes place in June.