SWIMMING: Forest Grove boys are quickly becoming a force in conference action
by: Chase Allgood, Forest Grove’s Daniel Rooker comes up for air after winning the 200-yard individual medley last Thursday at a dual meet against Tigard.

The Forest Grove boys swim team, armed with the proper mix of talent and depth, won its second straight Pacific Conference dual meet last Thursday against Tigard and positioned itself to make a run at a district championship with three meets left in the regular season.

Forest Grove won all but three events last Thursday to easily dispatch visiting Tigard, 100-68. That win put the Vikings in prime position heading into Thursday's road meet against Newberg.

'The boys have a shot at winning all their meets this year,' said Forest Grove head coach Paul Waterstreet. 'Newberg is one of the best teams in the state. Going through the lineups event by event, they have an advantage in some events and we have an advantage in others. It could go either way.'

Winning a district title is just one of the team's goals, however. The Vikings are closing in on several state qualifying times in both relay and individual events.

'It's kind of a double-edged sword,' Waterstreet said. 'The end goal is to qualify for state, but the team that wins the district gets a trophy, too. This year we have the ability to do both.'

Against Tigard, the Vikings won all three relay events and took five of eight individual events. Jon Rooker led the way with two victories, while Daniel Rooker, Jacob Cockeram and Nick Wallace also picked up wins.

Jon Rooker won big in both his events. Rooker's time of 1:51.19 in the 200-yard freestyle was 11 seconds better than the nearest competitor, and his time of 5:01.48 in the 500 free was almost a minute and a half faster than the runner-up.

Cockeram took first place in the 100 butterfly (54.70), edging teammate Steven Rawson (1:00.52). Cockeram followed that up with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke (1:00.26).

Wallace was victorious in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.81. He also added a second-place finish in the 50 free (24.07).

Daniel Rooker's time of 2:00.44 was good for first place in the 200 individual medley, and he added a runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke later in the meet (1:03.73).

'The boys have got a chance to do real well this year,' Waterstreet said. 'They're swimming well and we're pretty close to state qualifying times and a few school records.'

Both Rooker brothers are close to state qualifying marks in individual events as well as relay events. Cockeram is also on the cusp in the 100 butterfly, the event in which he qualified last year. Others closing in on qualifying marks are Steven and Patrick Rawson, Josh Sandage and Wallace.

'We've got six or seven guys who are pushing the qualifying times for state, so we've got some good flexibility,' Waterstreet said. At most, swimmers can qualify in two individual and two relay events or three individual events and one relay.

'We'll make those decisions before districts,' Waterstreet said.

On the girls side, Forest Grove won two of three relay events and four of eight individual events, but it wasn't enough to get past Tigard's superior depth. In each of the Lady Vikings' six wins, Tigard took at least second and third place, and sometimes fourth as well. That gave the Lady Tigers enough separation for a 98-72 victory.

Forest Grove won the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay events, and added individual wins from Sharon Rooker, Kirstin Stanley and Madeline Allnutt.

Rooker won two events on the day, blazing to victories in the 500 freestyle (5:39.00) and 100 breaststroke (1:16.68). The freshman has already broken one school record this year - swimming 1:05.6 in the 100 backstroke to topple a 30-year-old mark - and she is in position to break several others by the end of the season.

'We're trying to figure out where to put her for the district meet,' Waterstreet said of Rooker. 'She's already got one school record and could break a couple more.'

Stanley swam to first place in the 50 free (27.14) and added a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke, checking in just one-tenth of a second behind teammate Allie Hopson (1:14.17).

Allnutt had a great day for Forest Grove, easily winning the 100 free with a time of 59.44. She also claimed third place in the 200 free (2:07.13) and established personal records in all four events in which she competed.

The Lady Vikings' only other top-three finishers were Azsha Preble and Jami Kenny, who took second and third, respectively, in the 200 individual medley.

'The girls just don't have the depth that the boys have,' Waterstreet said. 'The girls are more of a district team. We'll definitely qualify a few girls for state.

'All the way through the lineup they've been swimming really well and making a lot of improvement.'

Next up for Forest Grove is Thursday's trip to Newberg. The Vikings will be back at home next week when they host McMinnville on Jan. 24 and the district meet looms on Feb. 8-9 at the McMinnville Aquatic Center.

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