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Crusaders prove to be strong again

The three-time defending state champs show they've still got what it takes to win in 2011-12
by: Miles Vance FLY HARD — Jesuit senior Kori Carpenter makes waves on her way to winning the 100-yard butterfly during her team’s win over Southridge at Aloha High School on Dec. 8.

ALOHA - The Jesuit girls swim team has been the Metro League's best - and Oregon's best - for quite a while.

And while the Crusaders have yet to write the story of their 2011-12 season, the opening chapter shows that they ought to be pretty darned good again.

Jesuit kicked off defense of its Metro and Class 6A state titles in style last week, beating Southridge 113-57 at Aloha Swim Center on Dec. 8. The win lifted Jesuit's Metro record to 1-0, while Southridge - which opened with a win over Lincoln on Dec. 3 - fell to 1-1.

'I actually believe we're going to be a lot stronger than I thought we would,' said senior Kori Carpenter, who won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly against Southridge. 'We always have had our depth and I was worried that we would lose it from last year, but I think people are definitely stepping in and we'll be good.'

The Crusaders - winners of the past three Class 6A state championships - raced past the Skyhawks in fine fashion despite missing some of their top swimmers due to a conflict with the Junior National and Paul Bergen International meets.

Jesuit won nine of the meet's 11 events, with Carpenter and junior teammate Kelsey Forster winning two individual events each and swimming on one of Jesuit's two winning relays. Carpenter took the 200 IM at 2 minutes, 18.52 seconds (with teammate Megan Harper second at 2:23.13) and came back later to top the butterfly at 1:03.23 (this time, with teammate Dane-Fung Yu placing second at 1:13.49).

'That was hard for me because I never get to swim that,' Carpenter said after the 200 IM. 'I haven't swum it for like three years, but it went better than I thought it would.'

Forster took top honors in the 50 freestyle at 25.94 (with Southridge's Sarah Braun second at 27.47), and later won the 100 free at 58.43 (with Skyhawk Jessica Sparks second at 1:00.28).

Jesuit's other winners included: Kathleen McCarroll in the 200 freestyle at 2:12.09 (with teammate Zofia Zdanowicz second at 2:16.71); Harper in the 500 free at 5:45.29 (with teammate Samantha Wellington next at 6:26.03); the 200 free relay team of Forster, Zdanowicz, Emily Lesowski and Harper at 1:50.09; Natalie MacMillan in the 100 breaststroke at 1:24.04 (with teammate Courtney Hall second at 1:24.25); and the 400 free relay team of Carpenter, Claire McCarthy, Zdanowicz and Harper at 3:59.40.

'Our whole team isn't here because the international meet is going on, but it's exciting,' Carpenter said. 'I think we will have six or seven girls going to state this year.'

Southridge, likewise, competed shorthanded - with a couple swimmers away at other meets and senior Jessica Lee out with a sprained ankle - but still battled gamely against Jesuit.

'We were very shorthanded and we had to fill in in a lot of places,' said Southridge coach Rod Harman. 'But that's OK. We always treat the regular season like time trials. I like to win, obviously, but I'm far more concerned with how we perform.'

Southridge got its lone individual win of the day from Braun in the 100 backstroke, and also got a victory in the 200 medley relay. Braun topped the field in the backstroke with a winning time of 1:05.33 (with McCarroll second at 1:05.85), and also swam the lead leg on the 200 medley relay, teaming with Karen Huan, Anne Gerlosky and Blair Woods to post a 2:04.96.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.