The Rams top the MHC boys swim standings after big wins over Centennial and David Douglas

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Central Catholic's Armani Dirks celebrates his win in the 200-yard freestyle race Thursday afternoon. He also won the 100 free to help the Rams to an 89-81 win at Centennial.

The Central Catholic boys swim team continues to emerge this season, passing its second test in a row last Thursday with an 89-81 win over Centennial.

The win over last year’s regular-season champs came just a week after beating David Douglas — last year’s district-meet champs — putting the Rams (4-0) in the Mount Hood Conference driver’s seat heading into the final month of the season.

“We have some talented swimmers in the program, and they’re showing up for practices twice a day, and I’ve been really impressed with that,” Central coach Dawn Grunwald said. “The boys have stood up to the pressure well.”

The Rams overcame an early deficit Thursday by loading up in the freestyle sprints where they outscored Centennial 25-7 to build a double-digit lead that they would never surrender.

Eamon McNeil and Nicholas Kennedy kept their faces buried in the water to pull off a 1-2 finish in the 50 free (23.97), while Armani Dirks led a Rams’ sweep in the 100 free (52.97). Grunwald credits assistant coach Jill Black with putting together the team’s most efficient lineup for each week’s matchup.

“You put three super fast kids in one event and it generates a lot of excitement,” Grunwald said. “When you’re able to sweep those top three places it really turns the tide.”

Central maintained its edge with a win in the 200 freestyle relay (1:38.43) only to see Centennial close the gap by taking the last three races of the day. Alex Bogdan won the backstroke (56.30) and brothers Blake and Austin Suh combined for a 1-2 finish in the breaststroke (1:04.50).

The Eagles found themselves within 10 points, but would still need a rare 1-2 sweep in the 400 freestyle relay to salvage a tie.

Centennial picked up first-place points in the tag-team race, hitting the wall before any of the other teams had even made their turn for the finish. But Central Catholic filled the second and third spots to secure the team win.

Centennial won seven of the day’s 11 races, but the Rams used their depth to flood the supporting spots, outscoring the Eagles by 24 in the battle for second-and third-place points. Senior Darren Heller, a basketball player in past years, was key to that effort with runner-up finishes in the 100 free and the backstroke.

Central Catholic faces its last big challenge of the dual-meet season when it travels to Barlow (2-1) to end the regular season Thursday, Jan. 31.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Central Catholic's Catherine Nisbet powers through the water during her win in the 200 medley race Thursday against Centennial.

The Central Catholic girls swim team picked up its first Mount Hood Conference dual win in four years with a 94-68 decision over Centennial on Thaursday.

The Rams started fast with wins in the first three events to take a quick 29-15 lead. Central secured the victory when rookie Felicia Anderson won the breaststroke (1:19.89). She won the 500 free (5:42.22) earlier in the day, while Catherine Nisbet won the 200 medley (2:37.75) and Casey Dumont won the 200 free (2:14.53) and backstroke (1:03.90).

View a photo gallery from the meet at …

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