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Wildcats power up to take out Apollos

by: MILES VANCE, OUT IN FRONT — Westview’s Michelle Needham races to victory in the 200-yard individual medley last week.

CEDAR MILL - Westview's girls swim team was just happy to hit the pool in competition against Sunset last week.

The Wildcats, the three-time defending state champions, muscled past Sunset 108-62 last Thursday at Sunset Swim Center to improve to 3-0 in league and remain just behind league-leading Jesuit's girls. The Apollo girls, meanwhile, fell to 1-2 in league competition.

Westview's girls were led by the efforts of seniors Michelle Needham and Jordan King, both of whom won two individual events each and swam on two of their team's three winning relays. Needham came through in the 200-yard individual medley (winning in 2 minutes, 13.90 seconds) and 100 freestyle (55.29) while King led the way in the 100 butterfly (1:00.34) and 100 backstroke (1:02.67).

Needham, also a club swimmer for Tualatin Hills Swim Club, was just happy for the chance to compete and break up the rigorous two-a-day practice schedule.

'I'm really sore so it was hard. We had practice this morning so I was just trying to get through the race and get the points,' she said. 'We look forward to high school meets because it's like a day with a break from practices. It's like 'We can't wait for Thursday.''

The Wildcats also got individual wins from sophomore Abby Lindstrom in the 50 freestyle (26.31), senior Hannah McCulley in the 500 freestyle (5:19.63) and senior Kayla Branche in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.05), and swept the top spots in all three relays.

Now, with the district swim meet looming just 15 days away - set Feb. 8-9 at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center - Needham and her teammates are soaking up the joys of her senior year stretch run.

'It's a little bittersweet because we can't wait for state - it's one of the most fun meets we have all year - but then it's like two days of racing and then you're done,' she said. 'We're excited to move on to club meets and college, but we just love high school swimming because it's so fun.'

Sunset made its mark at last week's meet too, with sophomore Carissa Burke breaking through to win the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:58.55. The Apollos also took runner-up honors in seven of the day's 11 events and also added five thirds.

'We just don't have as many swimmers as we did last year. We just don't have as much depth as we did,' said Sunset coach Anthony Markey. 'But next year, we'll be adding depth and (Westview will) be losing depth so, hopefully, next year we can get them.'

Sophomore Megan Elliott took second place in both her individual events, finishing the 200 IM in 2:16.75 and her 100 backstroke in 1:02.71. Also notching second-place finishes for the Apollos were Hailey Bambusch in the 50 freestyle (26.47) and Lexi Hartman in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.31). Sunset teams were also second in all three relay races.

In upcoming meets, Westview hosts Aloha at Sunset Swim Center at 4 p.m. today (Thursday), while Sunset faces Southridge at Aloha Swim Center at 4 p.m. today.