Girls lost just one senior from a team that took third in state

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Laura Laderoute took fourth place in the backstroke and the individual medley at state last year and was a part of the team's state championship medley relay as a freshman. The West Linn girls swim team had one of its most successful seasons in school history last year and the Lions are hoping to duplicate or perhaps even improve this year.

The Lions finished third in state last year, just nine points away from champion Jesuit, and West Linn lost just one contributing senior in the offseason in Sidney Pinger.

Returning are a handful of some of the state's top swimmers who figure to vie for individual state titles and relay crowns as well, potentially culminating in a truly special season.

“I know the girls themselves have very high expectations. I just hope we can do as well as we did last year,” coach Katie Wilson said.

Brie Balsbough is back for her senior campaign. She finished second in both the 100 breaststroke and the 50 freestyle last year and was a part of the state championship medley relay team.

“The medley relay will be really good again. I'm not sure if it will break the state record again but it could be close,” Wilson said.

The Lions hope to qualify all three relays for state this year to rack up crucial points in its bid for a state title.

Laura Laderoute is also back and also figures to be one of the top breaststrokers in the state while also competing well in the backstroke and individual medley. As a freshman she was fourth in both the IM and the backstroke in the state.

Robin Pinger also returns as a sophomore primarily as a sprint freestyler. She took fifth in the 100 freestyle at state last season.

Kylie Norris will likely round out the team's medley relay this year and will be another sprint freestyler for the team.

Sarah Cooper and Brianna Dyrdahl also bring plenty of experience to the team and will be integral, particularly on relays for the Lions.

“We have some more club swimmers out as well who we'll find out about. I think there have been more West Linn swimmers in general who are swimming club and the popularity of the sport has increased,” Wilson said.

For the boys, West Linn lost some top talent to graduation but should still field a competitive squad this season.

Parker Kilstrom and Ian Herr both swam on the team's 200 freestyle relay that qualified for state last year. Kilstrom will swim the butterfly and likely the 200 and 500 freestyle individually this year.

Herr will be one of the team's top sprint freestylers this year.

Kyle Vu should also make a big impact for West Linn, both on relays and in the backstroke and the distance freestyle events.

“We're hoping a few guys can get through in individual events,” Wilson said.

West Linn will compete in the annual Three Rivers League relays today, Thursday, and will have its first dual meet against Grant next week.

The TRL is expected to be strong again as usual. The girls side should be loaded with both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego fielding competitive teams and both Lake Oswego and Oregon City should be formidable on the boys side.

“Last year it was a bit of a surprise for the girls to win districts, but we'll try again this season,” Wilson said.

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