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Pioneers tame the Lions in final dual

The Sandy girls swimming team beats St. Helens in battle-of-unbeatens to win dual-meet championship.


At the beginning of this year’s swimming season, Sandy coach Jamie Paul said she had a feeling the lady Pioneers’ biggest challenger for the Northwest Oregon Conference title would be St. Helens. Sure enough, Sandy and St. Helens both entered February 4’s regular season finale unbeaten. With the conference dual-meet title on the line, the Pioneers roared louder than the Lions.

Sandy clinched an undefeated regular season and another dual-meet conference championship as it waded past St. Helens, 97-73.

“I think we were more excited for Sherwood, but we knew St. Helens was going to be tough,” Sandy swimmer Hannah Gupton said. “We are really excited that we came out and won.”

The Pioneers set the tone for every meet throughout the season with dominating swims in the 200 medley relay, and it was no different against St. Helens. Sandy smoked St. Helens in each of the first three legs of the relay to build an insurmountable gap. Shelbi Hayzlett gave the Pioneers the early lead with a mistake-free backstroke then Zayna Salveter stretched the distance with her breaststroke. Gupton put the Pioneers 20 yards ahead on the butterfly leg of the race. By the time Asha Gatchell jumped into the pool for the freestyle portion of the swim, she was able to cruise to the finish without pressure from St. Helens. Sandy won the event with a time of 2:01.25, 11.5 seconds ahead of the Lions.

The same four Pioneers succeeded again as a group in the 200 freestyle relay later in the meet. All four girls out-swam their St. Helens counterparts as they glided to a 10-second win (1.52.56).

Hayzlett, Gupton and Gatchell each prevailed in two individual events to aid the team score. Hayzlett won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, both without a serious challenge from St. Helens. Gupton’s final tune-up before the district meet went according to plan as she smoothly raced to wins in the 50 free and 100 fly. Gatchell owned the two longest freestyles races, the 200 and 500, winning both events by more than 10 seconds.

Salveter earned a pair of second-place finishes in the 100 free and 100 breast. She narrowly lost to St. Helens’ Jackie Prevish who will be one of the favorites in both events at districts.

St. Helens was the only team to hold Sandy under 100 points this season, so the Pioneers will be giving the Lions their attention at the district meet.

“We know they are going to be more of a challenge at districts, so we are going to have to be ready for them for sure,” Gupton said.