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Lady Viks sizzle at state


Rooker's state title propels Forest Grove into Top 10

Forest Grove junior Prudence Rooker is relatively new to the high school swimming scene, but the veteran club swimmer was unfazed by the raucous environment of Mt. Hood Aquatic Center, bringing home her first state championship and guiding the Lady Vikings to a 10th-place team finish at the OSAA Class 6A state swim meet on Saturday.

Rooker demolished two school records over the weekend, racing to victory in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:03.70, and nearly capturing a second state title in the 200 freestyle, touching the wall at 1:50.81 to finish in second place behind Century sophomore Ellie Thornbrue.

Meanwhile, teammate Vera Hutchison swam to an eighth-place finish in the 200 individual medley (2:13.82) and a ninth-place finish in the 100 butterfly (59.90), helping the Lady Viks score 58 team points.

The Forest Grove boys finished in 18th place (17 points), getting scoring performances from Charles Morse and August Peverly. Morse finished seventh in the 500-yard freestyle (4:54.99) and also took 12th in the 200 freestyle (1:50.64), while Peverly added a 12th-place finish in the 100 butterfly (54.05).

Team performances aside, it was Rooker who stole the show over the weekend. The junior has been swimming competitively for most of her life, but didn’t join the Forest Grove varsity team until this year, opting instead to focus on her club commitments.

On Saturday, racing against many of her friends and club teammates, Rooker turned in two impressive performances.

In the finals of the 200 freestyle, Rooker closed hard and overtook Sunset’s Emily Chang on the final lap, but couldn’t get to the wall ahead of Thornbrue, finishing second by seven-tenths of a second.

“I knew it was going to be a close race, and honestly I thought everyone in that heat had a pretty fair chance,” Rooker said. “Three of the girls in that heat were my club teammates and I’ve seen them all put up impressive times in practice, so I was really counting on a good race between all of us and really pushing myself to give a good effort.”

A few hours later, Rooker prepared for the finals of her signature event: the 100 breaststroke. Her brother, Gabe, won three consecutive state titles in the boys 100 breaststroke before graduating from Forest Grove last year, and Prudence Rooker had already broken the school record in the event earlier this season.

Seeded second behind West Linn’s Brie Balsbough, Rooker fell behind on the first lap, but closed with a sizzling split of 33.77 seconds to capture a state title. Rooker’s official time of 1:03.70 earned her All-American status and was just one-tenth of a second off the 6A state record, which was set in 2010 by Amy Wiley of Lakeridge.

“I felt pretty relieved after my win in the 100 breaststroke,” Rooker said. “The results were around where I was aiming to be. I wasn’t really expecting the ‘all-time best’ type of results, but I was definitely hoping to walk away from state feeling good with my swims and doing well for Forest Grove High School, so in the end I guess my performances balanced out in the middle somewhere.”