The Century girls swim team builds on last years seventh-place finish at state

Last season, the Century girls swimming team took seventh place at the OSAA Class 6A state meet on the strength of four freshman.

Ellie Thornbrue won state championships in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 butterfly, while Logan Neal also notched a pair of Top 10 finishes — fifth place in the 50 freestyle and seventh in the 100 free. Yuliya Lunina added a 14th-place finish in the 100 backstroke.

Haley Leitner did not qualify for state individually, but she played a key role on both of the Jaguars’ relay teams, which took fifth place in the 200 medley relay and eighth in the 400 freestyle relay.

“All four girls train for swimming year round,” Century coach Sarah Holman says. “They dedicate a lot of time, energy and passion toward swimming. Swimming is something that’s important to them and they’re talented at it as well.”

With those four girls now in their sophomore seasons and several other swimmers ready to step up and help Century earn points at every meet, Holman has high hopes for how the Jaguars will fare this season.

“Our girls team is looking very strong,” Holman says. “All four of those girls are back, which should make us strong. Plus we have a lot of really strong freshman coming in. I have a lot of hopes for the girls side.”

For Thornbrue, Holman “would of course like to see her defend her titles and eventually maybe even set some state records in those events. She’s one of the most talented swimmers in the state of Oregon right now, not just in terms of kids who swim for their high schools, but overall. She should definitely be looking at trying to win some more titles and set some state records.”

Neal “is also very, very talented,” Holman says. “Her main events have been the 50 free and the 100 free and I expect her to be right at the top of the state meet. She’s capable of finishing at the top of both of her events.”

Lunina “does the backstroke and butterfly,” Holman says. “Last year she qualified for state in just the backstroke. I’d love to see her qualify in both the backstroke and the butterfly this year. I’d love to see her make the top six in her events.”

For Leitner, Holman says: “It would be great to see her qualify individually.”

Holman believes that with such a talented group of sophomores, they will strengthen the Century program not only with their performance, but with the attention that they garner.

“Your personnel is going to change year-to-year,” Holman says. “When you have a strong class it helps build an overall stronger team. When you get the recognition from some strong swimmers, it brings attention to the sport and it helps people come out for the sport.

“Having some talent helps build the program. Hopefully over the next three years having those four girls on the team will help build the program and make it stronger overall.”

The four sophomores will have plenty of help from some of the more unsung swimmers on the Jaguars team.

Freshman Hannah Galbraith “could be a key swimmer on our team,” Holman says.

Senior MacKenzie Clifton “has been a really strong swimmer all four years,” Holman says. “She’s one of our highest point getters for non-club swimmers. She’s a really great breaststroker and can also do a handful of other events and is always willing to do whatever we need her to do. She’s one of our captains this year and is a real key element to the team.”

Senior Jengi Fitch “is another really strong swimmer,” Holman says. “This is her third year on the team. She’s a really strong swimmer in three of her four strokes: breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and freestyle. She can go wherever we need her.”

Senior Emily Donalson “is another really talented swimmer, willing to do anything, helps us out and can pretty much score points in anything we put her in,” Holman says.

The Century boys do not have the same number of elite level club swimmers as the girls, but one name to watch out for is the brother of Hannah Galbraith, Josh.

“Josh Galbraith has improved a ton in his last two years,” Holman says. “He’s a junior this year and he works so hard all year long and swims every day. I’d love to see him qualify for state. Last year he was out a little ways.

“But, if he improves as much this year as he did over the last two years, he’s going to be right there and I would love to see him make it to state this year.”

Galbraith will get some help from Ryan McGoldrick, Bobby Thompson and Scott Steele.

Holman says that while the boys success might not show up very often in the win column, she is hoping to see improvement from them throughout the season.

“On the boys side, we may not win as many meets overall,” Holman says. “But, I’d really like to see the boys really get in there and race and make lots of improvements. We’ve got several boys who are sophomores and juniors that just started swimming when they got to high school and are making tons of improvements and work really, really hard every day at practice.

“They may not win as many meets, but there are a couple meets out there that we could see our boys win.”

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