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Lakers put two swim teams in top 10 at state meet

by: Miles Vance, Lake Oswego’s Mackenzie Luick swims the backstroke portion of the 200 individual medley during last weekend’s state swim meet. Luick finished seventh in that event and then came back to claim a state title in the 100 breastroke. The Lakers had three of the top finishers in that event. The Lake Oswego girls team wound up in fourth place in the team competition while the Laker boys were eight.

Lake Oswego swim coach Don King proved prophetic when speaking about his team in the preseason. When talking about this year's state swim meet, King figured his girls team could finish one spot higher than its fifth-place showing in 2006 and he hoped that the boys could place in the top 10.

Over two months later, the Laker girls took fourth at the state swim meet and the boys came in eighth, capping a terrific season.

'We wanted a top-five and a top-10 and we got it. I thought the girls actually could have gone higher but there was some pretty good competition,' King said.

It didn't take long for King to recognize that the Laker girls were capable of putting up some incredible swims. In the opening preliminary race at the state meet, Lake Oswego's 200 medley relay team of Alex Farrar, Mackenzie Luick, Kelsey Rueppell and Jeli Nixt dropped three seconds off of its time at the district meet to earn the top seed in Sunday's final.

It was a terrific momentum boost for the entire team which carried over into the finals.

'To start the day like that was fantastic. Overall, they dropped five seconds from their time at districts,' King said.

Luick was, undeniably, the star of the meet for Lake Oswego. The sophomore turned in a stellar split in the medley relay and then dropped nearly two seconds off of her individual medley time to place seventh.

Luick's time was actually the fifth fastest of the meet, but she couldn't place any higher than seventh because she just barely missed qualifying for the finals in her preliminary race.

Also in the individual medley, Nixt took 11th, dropping close to a second off of her previous time as well.

In the 100 butterfly, Alex Farrar qualified for the finals and then dropped nearly a second off her earlier time to place fifth overall.

The Laker girls qualified all three of their relays for the finals and, in the 200 freestyle relay, the team of Gracie Hampton, Stacey Ellis, Devon O'Leary and Rueppell took 11th.

Farrar earned points in her second individual event in the 100 backstroke. The junior cracked the one-minute barrier in the prelims and in the finals to take fifth place.

But it was in the breaststroke where Lake Oswego racked up the points. The Lakers qualified three swimmers for the event and, remarkably, all three girls qualified for the finals.

Luick, Nixt and O'Leary finished in the top-six at prelims and all three girls swam even faster in Sunday's final. But, once again, Luick stood out. She dropped nearly two seconds off of her previous time and won the individual state title.

Luick had the second fastest time heading into the race, but beat her closest competitor by nearly a second.

'Mackenzie just had a great meet. We're really excited about her,' King said.

It was very close to being a one-two finish for the Lakers in the breaststroke. Nixt dropped nearly a second from her preliminary time and finished in third, just seven hundredths of a second out of second place.

O'Leary finished in fifth, giving her team more valuable points.

In the girls' final event, the 400 relay, the Lakers continued to post blazing times. The team of Farrar, Ellis, Nixt and Luick dropped three seconds from their time on Friday and placed eighth.

Lake Oswego's performance was good enough to earn the team fourth place overall, just four points behind David Douglas for third.

The Laker boys were also impressive, placing eighth as a team.

The medley relay team of Brendan Liu, Cody Deacon, Tamas Thibeau and Anthony Brost finished in a tie for seventh place with Newberg with a time of 1:42.62.

'All of our relays scored for us and that was great to see,' King said.

Deacon then took fifth in the 200 individual medley and Anthony Brost came in 11th in the 50 freestyle.

Liu earned points individually for Lake Oswego with his performance in the 500 freestyle, taking ninth place in a time of 4:56.11.

Lake Oswego's 200 freestyle relay, featuring Johnny Urstadt, Wendel Raymond, Isaac Hayden and Brost took eighth place, dropping close to half a second off of its preliminary time.

Liu continued his strong meet with his showing in the backstroke. The sophomore took 10th place in the consolation final.

Deacon scored again for the Lakers in his best event, the breaststroke. The senior was consistent, finishing with the fourth fastest time in the prelims and the finals.

Finally, in the last event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay team of Hayden, Urstadt, Liu and Deacon took 10th place to secure a top-10 finish for the Laker team.

'I think all of the boys really pulled it together. I couldn't be more pleased,' King said.

Lakeridge swimmers also turned in some fast swims at the state meet. The Pacer girls tied for 16th overall.

Freshman Emily Lightcap scored in two events for Lakeridge. In the 200 freestyle she came in 12th place and in the 500 freestyle, her best event, she qualified for the finals and took sixth overall.

'It was great for Emily to qualify for the finals. We're really looking forward to coaching her for the next three years,' Pacer coach Justin Lindsey said.

Lydia Burris, Lakeridge's top sprinter, came in ninth in the 50 freestyle, dropping a tenth of a second off her time.

In the very next event, the 100 butterfly, Burris took ninth place again, finishing in a time of 1:00.10.

Finally, the 400 freestyle relay team of Burris, Lightcap, Casey Chase and Julia Dahl finished 11th overall to complete the scoring for the team.

'It was nice that Casey got to swim for us on Sunday since she's a senior. She went out on a high note,' Lindsey said.

The Lakeridge boys finished in a tie for 25th place at the meet.

The Pacers' 200 freestyle relay team finished just a split-second behind Lake Oswego, taking ninth overall. The team consisted of Brian Cha, Zac Yensen, Jason Lou and Joey Bora.

'That 200 free relay had some of the best relay exchanges I've seen since I've been here. They were really impressive,' Lindsey said.

Meanwhile, Lou just missed scoring for the Pacers in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.