A series of 1-2 sweeps helps the Rams pull away for a 96-73 win at Barlow
GRESHAM Central Catholic swim coach Dawn Grunwald was nervous leading up to Thursdays showdown with Barlow.
The Rams hadnt dropped a dual all season and completing a perfect run was uncharted territory. This final opponent was no pushover, as Barlow entered the day with only one loss and on paper the battle appeared to be a dead heat. Finally, Grunwald submitted a lineup that was one key swimmer short after rookie Owen Gibson was lost for the year with a broken leg suffered last weekend on the ski slopes.
In the end, none of those obstacles could slow the Rams, who picked up first-place points in seven of the 11 events and won going away 96-73.
Im kind of in shock right now, Grunwald said. We spent a lot of time putting together a lineup for this one, and figured wed just come out and do our best.
Grunwalds fears appeared justified early in the meet when Brandon Lowder led a Bruins sweep in the 200-yard freestyle (2:06.93), and teammate Nick Thorne followed with a win in the 200 medley (2:04.32).
The quick start put Barlow ahead 25-21, but the advantage would be short-lived.
Central won the next six races, including a series of 1-2 finishes that quickly turned the tide.
The Rams rushed into the lead when Eamon McNeil and Leland Beatley finished just a split-second apart in the 50 free (24.07). Teammates Armani Dirks and Darren Heller provided another tight finish in the butterfly (59.01).
We are blessed with a deeper team this year where we dont have to spread our talent out as much, Grunwald said. We have a diverse team, and theres really not many places where we cant have people in the mix for a win.
McNeil picked up his second victory of the day in the 100 free (52.47), and the Rams put the team score out of reach after Heller led a 1-2 finish in the backstroke (1:01.34), putting Central up by 27 points with two races left.
Tanner Symes picked up the Rams other individual win, taking the 500 free (5:53.49) by nearly the full length of the pool.
Central ended the regular season with a 5-0 record, while everyone else on the boys side finished with two losses. That gives the Rams the inside track to claim their first-ever league championship at next weekends district meet hosted by Mt. Hood Community College. Simply placing in the top two at district would give Central enough points to bring home the league trophy.
I cant even describe how great this feels, Dirks said. My first two years here, we came up with two wins total. This season has been amazing, and were going to continue working hard and give it all weve got at district.
The Barlow girls picked up a 98-68 win, breaking open a close meet when Kate Bier led a sweep in the 500 free (5:54.56).
Centrals Felicia Anderson won the 50 free (26.18) and butterfly (1:03.38), while teammate Casey Dumont was first in the 200 medley (2:33.34) and backstroke (1:06.49).
View a photo gallery from the meet at ...