Tuesday’s six-team dual meet at the Hood River Aquatic Center gave the HRV swim team a few things to think about before the Feb. 14-15 district meet.
First, could HRV overcome a midseason lull in time to compete for the district title? Second, are the Eagles ready to dive right in among the Intermountain Conference’s elite? And third, was Tuesday’s field the same they will see next weekend in Bend?
The first two answers became evident as the day went along. HRV was up to the challenge, winning five of eight dual meets against Pendleton, Hermiston, Bend and Redmond.
But the answer to the third question was not so clear.
“I overheard that Bend didn’t bring all of its best swimmers,” HRV coach Jane Nichols said. “But we can’t worry about that too much. We’re competing against the clock just as much as we’re competing against the other individuals.”
The Bend boys are rumored to be the IMC favorite this year, while the girls — despite a small turnout — are always in the running. Mountain View and Summit also have very strong programs, and should battle it out with HRV and Bend for the boys title.
“There’s a realistic expectation that we can win the district title,” HRV senior Daniel Chance said. “We don’t have a great idea of who we’re up against. But now we’ve seen Bend twice, and have fared well both times.”
Chance and the Eagle boys defeated the Lava Bears 86-70 on Tuesday, and also devoured Pendleton (93-42), Redmond (100-56), and Hermiston ((102-56).
The HRV girls won just one of the four IMC duals — an 89-60 win over Hermiston — but were competitive in their three losses to Bend (91-56), Pendleton (81-62) and Redmond (86-73).
“Our relays aren’t quite as strong as last year,” senior team captain Joyce Yang said. “We’re a pretty young team overall. But I think we’re ready to give it our all at district.”
Yang will be looking to qualify in the 50 free and 100 free, and will try to spearhead a young relay team that also features two freshmen (Ariel MacMillan and Nicole Shames) and one sophomore (Kelsey Hale).
The girls “A” medley relay team finished fourth on Tuesday with a time of 2:11.89. Bend and Pendleton were about one second ahead, while 3A La Grande High School won the race.
In the boys 200 medley relay, the team of Cody MacMillan, Erik Hidle, Sean Jennings and Henry Burton finished second to La Grande with a time of 1:51.33. But they blew away the nearest IMC competition, Bend, by more than three seconds.
The four boys team standouts will have to trim another three seconds off their time to earn a state “wild card” spot. If they do not eclipse the 1:48 barrier, they would need to win the district title to qualify for state.
“We’re improving with every race and we haven’t even shaved yet,” joked Hidle, a senior who placed fourth in the 50 free (24.24) and third in the 100 free (54.24).
Swimmers often shave their body hair for big meets like district and state, because every hundredth of a second counts.
Additional boys highlights on Tuesday came from MacMillan, who won the 200 free (1:55.30) and 100 breast (1:06.92); Burton, who won the 100 back (1:01.78) and placed third in the 200 IM (2:15.79); Chance, who took third in the 100 back (1:04.54) and fifth in the 100 fly (1:03.08); and Jennings, who placed second in the 100 breast (1:09.10) and seventh in the 100 fly (1:04.48).
Chris Jennings placed fourth in the 500 free (6:00.81), and Louis DeSitter placed fourth in the 100 breast (1:14.56).
Girls highlights came from Ariel MacMillan (second in 200 IM, 2:36.27; third in 100 breast, 1:19.16); Hale (third in 100 fly, 1:16.77); Shames (third in 200 free, 2:22.95).