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Third times the charm

Sunsets boys are aiming at another Class 6A state title


Nobody does it like the Metro League.

Not in boys swimming. Not in 2012-13. And it’s not even close.

The 2012-13 race ought to be another keeper, with two-time defending state champion Sunset the heavy favorite, but talented Southridge, Westview and Jesuit in the running for 2012-13 glory as well.

by: MILES VANCE - IN THEIR ELEMENT - The Sunset boys swim team ended up on top of the standings at state for the second strraight time in 2012, and are aiming to repeat this scene again at the conclusion of the ongoing 2012-13 season.

“I think the league will be hard pressed to make a run at Sunset,” said Aloha coach Lisa Leslie. “Sunset did not really lose any strength with graduation last year, and with a great group of freshman coming in, they will be a force to watch.”

“Sunset will be a great litmus test,” added Southridge coach Jeff Crews. “They’re just a powerhouse.”

While the Apollos are the obvious choice in this year’s league race, Southridge finished fifth at state a year ago while the Wildcats were 11th. Both of those teams, as well as Jesuit, should be strong once again.

“This year, there is going to be some serious competition from Westview, Sunset, Southridge and Jesuit, though I do believe Sunset has a very good chance at taking the boys title,” said Westview coach Audra DeFrance Gilman.

Following are previews of the six Beaverton-area Metro League boys varsity swim teams.

ALOHA

ALOHA — In an era of budget cuts and shrinking funding for sports, the Aloha boys swim team is on the rise.

The Warriors will field one of their biggest teams in years, and coach Lisa Leslie is hoping that, by year’s end, they’ll be able to translate those numbers into success.

“With so many new swimmers, we are definitely building,” Leslie said. “I think by the time we hit district, we will be primed for a great showing.”

This year’s Aloha team will be led by senior captains Calvin Mai (50 and 100 freestyle) and Scott Feehan (breaststroke), and will be joined at the top of the lineup by junior Justin Hua (100 and 200 free), freshman TJ Somanand (200 and 500 free) and sophomore John Vinkemulder (200 IM, backstroke).

Mai was third in the Metro 50 freestyle and fourth in the 100 last year, and is his team’s lone individual returning district placewinner.

“Calvin’s skills in the water are really helpful to the rest of the team, and his leadership is essential to the team,” Leslie said. “Scott Feehan is a motivator and can really get the team pumped up and ready to compete.”

Juniors Jackson Henry and Eric Salazar will also serve as team captains and play key roles.

Our “team captains balance each other very well,” Leslie said. “Their ability to work as a team and to help their teammates is essential for success. We are so lucky to have great leadership to help with the growing pains.”

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — Beaverton is ready to compete in 2012-13.

But only the Beavers will decide how to measure their success, and it may well be based this year more on times and personal bests than on wins and losses.

“As you know, teams without swimmers committed to the sport year-round do not fare very well in the win/loss column in most leagues,” said Beaverton coach Judy Rusaw, who takes over as head coach after serving the previous three years as a Beaverton assistant. “However, I do not measure success by wins and losses.”

Rusaw, who earlier led the Hillsboro High program for 24 years and also coached the Hillsboro Heat Club program, said that this year’s boys team would be led by senior captains James Gayaldo (freestyle, breaststroke) and William Bird, as well as by freshmen Cortlandt Nelsen (breaststroke, IM) and Rodrigo Mejia (freestyle, backstroke), and sophomore Ben Newton (butterfly). Newton is the team’s lone returning individual district placewinner after taking eighth in the 2012 Metro butterfly.

Gayaldo and Bird’s “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 sophomores Thomas Mai (freestyle), Jeff Soles (fly), Chris Gerber (freestyle), Chris Gilroy (freestyle, butterfly) and freshman Hunter Kenney (backstroke, freestyle).

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — Jesuit’s best, it believes, will hold its own pretty darned well against the rest of the Metro League’s best.

And while the team’s numbers aren’t big this year, the Crusaders believe that the rest of their lineup may well give them a chance to compete in 2012-13.

“With the boys, I think it will be the swimmers who are in the middle — the ones who might get fourth and fifth-place in an event — that will make the difference,” said Jesuit coach Bryan Butcher. “From there, it’s just a matter of how much we can get them to improve.”

This year’s Crusaders lineup will be led by senior captain Richard Butler (breaststroke) and by the following returning district placewinners: senior Sovijja Pou (fifth in the 200 and 500 freestyle); senior Marcus Imponenti (fifth in the 50 and 100 free); senior Joshua Braunstein (sixth in the backstroke); and junior Ben Buchalski (fourth in the breaststroke and back at full speed after battling injury in 2011-12).

The team will also benefit from the efforts of: junior Jackson Wahl (he qualified for state as a freshman before spending last year in China); junior Sean Calkins (backstroke); and senior Nate House (freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly).

“We’re not as deep this year, so it will take every swimmer to contribute,” Butcher said.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — Southridge’s boys won a place as one of the Metro League’s, and one one of the state’s, best teams in 2011-12.

For 2012-13, the Skyhawks are ready for much, much more of the same.

“I don’t think there’s a feeling that we’ll get run out of the door by anybody,” said Southridge coach Jeff Crews, who takes over as head coach after serving the previous four years as an assistant to Rod Harman.

There’s good reason to believe Crews is right about that, too, especially since the Skyhawks finished second in league and fifth at state a year ago and return a couple heavy hitters at the top of their lineup — senior Max Yakubovich (the Metro and 6A champion in the butterfly, and Metro champ and fourth-place finisher in the 6A backstroke) and senior Kyle Dalrymple (breaststroke, IM).

“They’re both excellent club swimmers and both have a lot of experience,” said Crews, a Program Supervisor and longtime youth swim coach with Tualatin Hills.

There’s more talent on hand too, including: sophomore Matt Braun (50 and 100 free); Aaron Loprete (50 and 100 freestyle); junior Blake Hokkanen (breaststroke, freestyle); junior David Stiling (freestyle); sophomore Mark Moshofsky (freestyle); senior Arek Engstrom (freestyle, backstroke); and Stephen Wood (butterfly).

The above group features several members of the Southridge water polo team, a group that shows “a lot of potential,” Crews said. “They can really help us out. I think several of them have a chance to get to state.”

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — Sunset is ready for a chance to take its place among Oregon’s greats.

The Apollos enter the 2012-13 season as prohibitive favorites in both the Metro League and Class 6A races, and if they do succeed in winning a third straight state title, they would join a small group of elite programs that have won three straight state championships.

“They absolutely want to get to the top of the state again. They want to win the league and then win at state again,” said Sunset coach Adam Farber. “I believe we can do it.”

The Apollos won seven events at last year’s Metro district meet, and four more at state, and bring back all the swimmers that won those races, including seniors Cameron Stitt, Cole Hurwitz and Jordan Hurwitz and junior Jonathan Zoucha.

That quartet won both Metro and state titles in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, while Stitt won the 200 and 500 free at both district and state. Cole Hurwitz took Metro crowns in the 200 IM and breaststroke, and placed second in the state IM and breaststroke. Jordan Hurwitz was second in both the Metro breaststroke and butterfly, then took third in both at state, while Zoucha was first and second in the Metro 100 and 200, then grabbed second and third in those same events at state.

“They’ve all been in so many big meets, they know what to do,” Farber said. “They know what needs to be done and they just go after it.”

There’s more talent on hand too, including senior leader Calder Dorn (fourth in the Metro 50 free), senior Kasey Kwong (second in the IM and third in the breaststroke in the Metro, and fourth in the breaststroke and sixth in the state IM), along with talented sophomore Blake Hulstrom and freshman Tristan Furnari.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — In a league dotted with state championship teams and state championship performers, Westview knows it can hold its own.

The Wildcats may not have the high-profile stars that some of their Metro opponents feature, but they battled to a third-place finish a year ago and expect to be strong again in 2012-13.

“We definitely do not have the same amount of club swimmers that some other teams do and rely on, but we have some very strong high school-only swimmers who are going to help our team substantially with the third, fourth and fifth spots, which are crucial to helping win dual meets,” said Westview coach Audra DeFrance Gilman.

It’s not like the cupboard’s bare at Westview either, with this year’s team led by returning district placewinners Jacob Weitzel, Alex La Rosa, Andrew Yoon and Reuben White.

La Rosa, a sophomore, was second in the backstroke and third in the butterfly in last year’s Metro district. Weitzel, a senior, was second in the 500 free and fourth in the butterfly. Yoon took third in the IM and fifth in the breast, and White, a senior, placed in both the 200 free and butterfly.

Other top contributors will be Eric Xu (breaststroke) and Tal Lind (100 free).

“Each swimmer brings a good work ethic, personality, discipline and the ability to have fun that makes our program so successful,” DeFrance Gilman said.