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Rooker rules with state title, record-setting swim

Forest Grove senior Prudence Rooker smashes the Class 6A state meet record in the 100 breaststroke


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove senior Prudence Rooker looks at the timing board for her winning mark after finishing first in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class 6A swimming state meet on Saturday.GRESHAM — The queen still reigns. Long live the queen.

Forest Grove’s Prudence Rooker entered last weekend’s Class 6A swimming state meet as the reigning champion in the 100-yard breaststroke. And yet, despite setting a meet record in the event at the Pacific Conference district meet on Feb. 15, the Vikings senior was seeded only fifth heading into state, which was staged last weekend at Mt. Hood Community College.

That suited Rooker just fine.

“Having people to chase — that’s what I like in my races,” Rooker said. “I don’t necessarily always want to be seeded first going into a race, because then you feel like everybody’s going after you.

“Second and third is always pretty great because you’ve got a few people that you’re like, ‘(OK), I’m going after them.’”

In her final high school meet, not only did Rooker go after the rest of the field, but she also went after the record books. And by the time the water settled Saturday, Rooker had stamped herself as one of the best female breaststrokers in Oregon preps history.

Rooker set the tone by breaking the Class 6A state meet record in Friday’s preliminaries and put an exclamation point on her high school career by blowing away the field in Saturday’s final, winning by daylight in an event often decided by hundredths of a second.

As for the meet record, Rooker’s time of 1 minute, 3.34 seconds in the preliminaries trimmed 0.26 from the 1:03.60 standard set by Amy Wiley of Lakeridge in 2010.

“Me? No. I was blown away,” was Forest Grove coach Tabor Waterstreet’s reply when asked if he expected his senior star to swim that fast. “I was not expecting that at all. She just went after it. She attacked it. She was an animal. It was really good to see her go that fast.”

The Forest Grove senior said her goal for Friday’s preliminaries was to put up the quickest mark but not necessarily swim as fast as she wound up going. She was not aware of the record time until after she exited the pool, she said, when others started congratulating her on the swim.

The next day in the championship final, she almost made it two record outings in a row. Rooker took out the front half of her race in 29.57, almost three-quarters of a second faster than anyone else in the field.

“My first 50, I’m trying to base it off how fast are the people next to me going, because I’m really not very good in all my races at pacing my first 50,” Rooker noted. “I feel really good when I go off the blocks, and I’m just like, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m fine,’ and I don’t really think about how much I’m going to fade in the end.”

Not only did Rooker not fade during the second 50, but she continued to power away from her competitors, recording the fastest split in that portion of the race by about the same margin as she had in the first half.

Rooker hit the final wall in 1:03.39, just 0.05 slower than her record-setting swim. Only Barlow’s Felicia Castaneda, who posted times of 1:02.66 and 1:02.62 in the preliminaries and finals of the 2004 Class 4A meet (then the state’s largest classification), has ever gone faster among Oregon girls at state.

In all, it was quite the title defense. West Linn sophomore Robin Pinger finished a well-beaten second in 1:04.69, and Barlow’s Lydia Pereverzina was third in 1:05.23.

“I was pretty relieved after that whole idea that everybody’s like, ‘Oh, you gotta defend the state title,’” admitted Rooker, a longtime member of the Beaverton-based Tualatin Hills Swim Club. “I was definitely relieved after my race.”

In her other individual event, Rooker added a fourth-place finish in the 100 butterfly (57.54), and she also swam legs on both of Forest Grove’s relay teams, which outperformed their seedings.

When it was all said and done, the Vikings scored 37 points to finish in a tie for 11th place with Lake Oswego. Pacific Conference foe Century claimed its first state title with 168 points.

The Vikings’ 200 medley relay quartet of Rachael VanLoo, Rooker, Alondra Martinez and Oriene Shiel entered the meet seeded 12th but finished 11th in 1:56.05 after hitting a 1:55.24 in the preliminaries.

The same four girls made up the 400 freestyle relay team, which had just squeaked into the competition as the 16th and final team. The Vikings improved even more in that event, finishing 10th overall in 3:46.14.

“I was happy with the times,” Waterstreet said. “It’s not always going to go best times two times, so I’m really stoked that they at least got one best time, and on both relays they went faster. So it was really good.

“The girls seemed upbeat. They had a good experience, I think.”

Shiel also almost earned a second swim in her individual event, the 100 free (55.86). The senior finished in 13th place, one spot away from making the consolation final.

Of course, the weekend truly belonged to Rooker, now a state champion two times over.

“I feel pretty good,” she said “(I) feel pretty happy with the way things ended.”



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