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Loncar, Lupro power Liberty to fourth-place finish at state meet


Falcons earn state trophy thanks to four top-two finishes from Anton Loncar and Daniel Lupro

GRESHAM — Two in a row.

For the second consecutive year, the Liberty boys swim team came up big at the meet that mattered most. Defying the form charts last Friday and Saturday at the Class 5A state swim meet, the Falcons left Mt. Hood Community College with an individual state title courtesy of Anton Loncar, three more top-two finishes and some team hardware to boot.

In all, Liberty’s efforts netted 36 points, which landed the Falcons in fourth place, allowing them to nab the final team trophy up for grabs and match their placement from 2013. Summit of Bend racked up 69 points to claim its sixth title in the last seven seasons. Springfield and Mountain View finished tied for second with 37 points, just a single point ahead of Liberty.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Liberty's Daniel Lupro swims to a fourh-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke Saturday.

“We’re thrilled,” Liberty coach Paul Hanson said. “To have two relays that were seeded seventh and eighth to then end up finishing second and fourth really helped the team effort. It was a great day for the Falcons in the pool.”

The trophy order was not completely decided until the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with a field that included Liberty, Summit and Springfield. Though Decker Strom and Nathan Allison opened up with solid legs, the Falcons sat in sixth place halfway through. But Daniel Lupro, who had finished second in the 100 free earlier Saturday afternoon, ate up a ton of ground on the penultimate leg, putting Loncar in contact for the anchor.

The University of Denver-bound senior then proceeded to post the fastest split in the entire race (46.49 seconds) and haul in Summit at the wall, lifting the Falcons (3:20.49) to a second-place finish behind Springfield (3:19.39). The Storm finished just 0.06 behind Liberty.

The result undeniably ended the meet on a high note for the Falcons, but they had plenty of others as well.

Loncar, Lupro, Max Schmitt and Jake Collins kicked off the morning with a fourth-place effort in the 200 medley relay (1:42.45).

Then, in back-to-back events, Liberty played a pivotal role in two of the most exciting races of the meet.

As fast as Loncar is, the role of favorite in the 100 butterfly final had to belong to Springfield’s Carlos Hunnicutt. The Millers senior entered the meet as the race’s three-time defending champion and he set a state meet record of 49.62 in the preliminaries.

But Loncar was the one to seize control in the final. He took the race out hard, led at the 50-yard mark and then somehow held off the hard-charging Hunnicutt at the wall to prevail by the slightest of margins, 50.01 to 50.05.

In the following event, the 100 free, Lupro learned what it felt like to be on the heartbreak side of such a finish. In the latter stages of the race, Lupro kept inching closer and closer to Summit’s John Hartmeier, the reigning champion in the event. The two boys hit the final wall almost instantaneously, giving Liberty a possible second victory in the meet.

Instead, Hartmeier had just fended off Lupro to win in 48.12, four one-hundredths of a second ahead.

A bit later in the meet, Loncar staged another thrilling duel, this time in the 100 backstroke, which he had won at the 2013 state meet. This time around, Mountain View’s Brandon Deckard played the role of spoiler to Loncar’s favorite. Taking a page out of the Falcon’s book, Deckard blasted off at the start and led 24.53 to 25.12 with 50 to go.

Over the back half, Loncar surged and finished much more strongly, but he had left too much ground to cover, finishing second in 50.23. Deckard was timed in 50.03 and both swimmers broke the Class 5A meet record of 50.77, set by Summit’s Nic Morrell in 2009.

“I thought it was just pretty funny how I was the favorite to win the 100 back, and Brandon upset me just the way I upset Carlos,” Loncar observed. “It’s kind of a little bit of karma there, but I’m not too upset. I just wanted to come in and get at least one state championship under my belt my senior year. I’m glad I was able to get it done.“

Lupro also scored in a second individual event, adding a fourth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.13).

“My 100 free, it was kind of disappointing that I just got out-touched,” Lupro said. “I just tried to shake it off. My 100 breaststroke, it kind of showed, I guess, a little bit. But then the relay, I was ready to go, no excuses, and just try to pull it out, do it for the team. And it worked out in the end.”

Liberty’s lone female swimmer at the meet also earned a medal. Haley Cablao finished 11th in the 200 individual medley and earned a fourth-place result in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.91), improving on her sixth-place finish from 2013. The junior’s three team points put Liberty at 14th in the standings.

Just like the boys, who came through in the clutch.

“I’m pretty happy as a team we were able to get fourth,” Loncar said. “That was the goal ... because last year we got fourth as well, and I’m really glad we got that done.”