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Girls swim team takes third at state


The Lions finish just 10 points behind state-champion Jesuit, medley relay team wins state title

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - The state championship winning 200 medley relay team of Brie Balsbough, Laura Laderoute, Robin Pinger and Sidney Pinger stand with their medals in front of coach Katie Wilson at the state swim meet.The West Linn girls swim team lived up to expectations at the state meet last week, finishing with a third place trophy and narrowly missing out on a state title.

The small but vastly talented Lions squad actually held a one-point lead heading into the final race of the night but its 4x400 relay team narrowly missed qualifying for the finals. It was an exciting three-team race for the state championship and Jesuit, with its third-place finish in the 4x400 secured the victory with 153 points.

Sunset won the final event to narrowly pass West Linn with 145 points compared to 143 from the Lions.

West Linn had terrific performances from start to finish, kicking off with the team's vaunted 200 medley relay team.

The team of Laura Laderoute, Robin Pinger, Brie Balsbough and Sidney Pinger had the fastest time heading into the meet and swam the fastest time in the prelims as well.

In the finals, the Lions led virtually from start to finish, lopping off more than a second off its time from the prelims to finish in 1:46.28, an automatic All-American time and finishing just shy of breaking the state record.

“We knew everyone was gunning for us but we all kept each other down to earth. We all swam really good times,” Balsbough said.

West Linn picked up more points in the 200 individual medley. Laderoute took more than a second and a half off of her time from the prelims to the finals, finishing in 2:06.06 to take fourth place.

In the 50 freestyle, the finals figured to be a showdown between Newberg's Alysha Bush and Balsbough and that's exactly how the race panned out.

Balsbough got a good start and matched Bush stroke for stroke but was just edged out down the stretch, finishing in 23.48, just two tenths of a second behind Bush for the state title.

“I swam a best time so I really couldn't have done much more. I saw (Bush) out of the corner of my eye but I just swam my own race,” Balsbough said.

In the 100 free, Robin Pinger qualified for the finals in her first state meet and dropped time from the prelims, taking fifth place in 53.79 seconds.

Sidney Pinger took eighth in the 500 freestyle, nearly winning the consolation race in 5:16.22 seconds.

West Linn's 200 freestyle relay team of Robin Pinger, Kylie Norris, Brianna Dyrdahl and Balsbough had the fastest time in the prelims and would take nearly a second off that time in the finals, finishing third behind Newberg and Jesuit.

In the backstroke, Laderoute swam two nearly identical times in the prelims and finals and took fourth place for the Lions.

“My time wasn't quite as fast as I wanted but I was happy to make the finals as a freshman,” Laderoute said.

In the breaststroke, Balsbough entered with the fastest time in the prelims but knew she had her work cut out for her against Forest Grove's Prudence Rooker.

The pair turned in an exciting battle with Rooker edging out Balsbough for the title by half a second. Balsbough's time of 1:04.22 was an All-American consideration time.

In the 4x400, West Linn's team of Sidney Pinger, Norris, Sarah Cooper and Laderoute, finished seventh in the prelims, just missing out on the finals, but did all it could in the consolation race, taking more than two seconds off of its time and finishing in 3:41.36 for seventh place overall.

It was a stellar showing for West Linn which, out of all its state point winners, features just one senior in Sidney Pinger.

For the boys, West Linn's 200 medley relay team of Ryan O'Leary, Curtis Klein, Justus Highberager and Ian Herr narrowly missed scoring, taking 13th place.

In the 200 freestyle, Klein turned in the fastest time in the prelims and lowered that time in the finals, but finished third to a pair of Sunset swimmers.

Klein, Highbarger, O'Leary and Herr took 12th for West Linn in the 200 freestyle relay.

Klein then swam his final high school backstroke event, finishing in 50.81, an All-American consideration time, but came in second by less than a quarter of a second.

The 27 points West Linn picked up was good enough for 13th in state.