High school sports teams inevitably change from one year to another. Graduation and attrition are merely part of the game.
But every so often, a coach gets lucky. HRV swim coach Kass Bergstrom is doubly lucky this year — at least with the boys team — because not only did no one graduate, but four new swimmers joined the program.
“Our depth is really impressive this year,” she said. “This is a dream for a coach because I have so many good swimmers that I can mix and match every meet and not miss a beat.”
Depth is less of a certainty on the girls team, but Bergstrom remains encouraged by the talent that is in place.
“We’re down numbers for girls, but the ones I have are strong,” she said. “Lack of bodies will hurt from a team standpoint because it will be hard to fill events at times.
“But I have a lot of confidence in the individual swimmers on the team.”
The team captains this year are seniors Oliver Burton for the boys and Kelsey Shortt for the girls. Each will be asked to lead through motivation and by example.
Burton is coming off a top-five state finish in the 50 freestyle and a sixth place finish in the 100 fly. Shortt also competed at state in 2000-01, but it was her sister, sophomore Caitlyn, who made the biggest splash.
As a freshman, the younger Shortt took seventh at state in the 100 breaststroke and eighth in the 200 individual medley. Caitlyn missed the team’s first meet Thursday against Parkrose because she is competing at a national event in New York, but Bergstrom said she will be with the team for the remainder of the season.
Other standouts for the Eagle girls this year are sophomore Ladora Mitchell, the team’s top breast-stroker; senior Rachel Culpepper, who specializes in fly and the 200 IM; and junior Joyce Yang, the smooth-stroking freestyler who anchors the 200 medley relay team.
Seniors Emily Baldwin and Sayuri Yomoguita, junior Anna Giles, sophomore Elsie Denton and freshman Kelsey Hale will also be asked to swim multiple events each meet to keep the depleted girls’ team afloat.
On the boys’ side, the team leaders this year will be Burton’s sophomore brother Henry, who specializes in backstroke and free; junior Cody Macmillan, who grew a foot since last season and lapped the field in the 200 IM versus Parkrose; and junior Sean Jennings, the team’s preeminent breast-stroker.
Jennings’ freshmen brothers Chris and Jess will also see a lot of pool time, as well as juniors Erik Hidle, Dan Chance and Jeff Fisher, and freshmen Adam Brown and Louis DeSitter.
“It’s nice that I can change things with the boys each meet,” Bergstrom said. “They’re all good at everything and don’t mind trying new things to help out the team.”
The boys team should be right in the thick of the Mt. Hood Conference race this season after finishing third last year. Gresham, Sandy and Barlow will be the Eagles’ primary contenders.
Barlow and David Douglas will likely dominate the MHC on the girls’ side, but Bergstrom remains confident in her troops.
“We have some very strong individuals, and as a team, I know we’re prepared,” she said.
Thursday vs. Parkrose
The Eagles competed well for their first meet of the season, when they hosted Parkrose at the HR Aquatic Center.
The boys team swam extremely well for the first meet of the year, winning 116-52. Top performers were Oliver Burton, who took first in the 100 fly and 100 breast; Macmillan: first in the 200 IM and 100 free; Sean Jennings: first in the 200 and 50 free; and Henry Burton: first in the 500 free and 100 back.
But despite all the blue ribbons, Bergstrom said the race of the meet went to Brown, who placed second in the 50 free (28.61) in his first-ever competitive meet.
The girls team fell 109-56 but had some solid individual performances. Yang finished first in the 50 free and second in the 100 free; Kelsey Shortt: second in the 500 free and 100 back; and Mitchell: thrid in the 100 fly.
Both the boys and girls teams will compete Tuesday at Gresham.