Layoff doesn't worry Madras swim team

Coaches sometimes worry about their teams taking long layoffs from competition, saying it takes a team out of rhythm or makes their squad stale.

Madras High School swim coach Bobby DeRoest has a different approach.

With the Class 4A-1A Special District 2 championships beginning Friday at Mount Hood Community College, the White Buffalos will have two weeks between meets — and with one of the most important of the season being districts — DeRoest is 180 degrees away from traditional thinking when it comes to scheduling.

“I did that on purpose,” DeRoest said of scheduling the Buffs’ final regular season action on Jan. 30, a double dual against Klamath Falls high schools Henley and Mazama.

“I want the kids to be itching to get back to racing. Right now, they are anxious to get back in the pool. I think it keeps them hungry,” he said.

Anxious or not, it’s safe to say that the Madras boys team, the defending district and state champions, are the heavy favorite to win the SD2 crown once again. The Buffs have dominated in the pool all season long with strong relay teams, a crop of talented underclassmen and veterans that have been staples of the title-winning program.

DeRoest said he’s specifically looking forward to seeing how senior Ian Goodwin’s final district meet goes.

“This is his last hoorah at the district level, and he really wants to end it the right way and dominate,” DeRoest said. “He’s going to do his best to not just get himself victories, but get the team a win, too. “I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.”

Goodwin has been a mainstay on the relay teams for the Buffs this season, and also has swum well in the 200-yard individual medley recently. He qualified for the state meet in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly last year.

As a whole, DeRoest thinks the boys team has a great shot at repeating as district champs. Last year, they racked up 296 points and beat runner-up La Salle Prep by 59 points.

“With our depth, and strengths in our relay teams, I think we’re going to have a good meet,” DeRoest said. “I think our championship season will be full of good swims, and our guys are ready to rock.”

Another key to this year’s boys team for Madras has been the emergence of the younger swimmers, DeRoest said. Freshman Garrett Webb, Vance Schierling and Ryan Goss have all been big parts of the team this season, along with sophomore Josh Hocker.

“We’ve got some guys down the line that have done a great job this season,” DeRoest said. “There’s no reason why our success can’t continue with the younger guys we have.”

On the girls side, DeRoest said the depth isn’t there like the boys team, but he still thinks the Buffs can send a few of his eight swimmers to state.

“Winning a team title might be out of the picture because of sheer numbers,” DeRoest said, “but I still think we can have some big races and compete to win a few.”

The two mainstays at the top of the Buff girls’ lineup, Sophie Gemelas and Aurora Gerhardt, figure to be in the hunt for multiple district championships. Gemelas is the defending state champion in the 200 IM.

Like their counterparts on the boys side, the girls team is strong in the relay events — 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle — and DeRoest said those three races should be ones to watch the Buffs in.

Maya Hoaglin, Cirelle Frank, Melissa Field and Elyse Bagley have all contributed on relay teams in the recent past for the Buffs. The team of Gemelas, Gerhardt, Field and Frank won the 400 freestyle relay at the team’s last competition in January.

Special District 2 literally stretches across half of Oregon. It has teams from the Willamette Valley, Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon, which include schools from the traditional Tri-Valley Conference that sponsor swimming — Molalla, North Marion, Gladstone and La Salle Prep — as well as Class 3A schools Riverdale and Valley Catholic. La Grande and Baker are the two most eastern teams in the district, and Corbett also competes.

Action is set to begin at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday at Mount Hood Community College in Troutdale.

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