The HRV boys and girls swim teams have had a fantastic season this year and will look to continue that this weekend when they host Hermiston, Pendleton, and The Dalles in the Columbia River Conference championships.
The girls team is a favorite to win the league meet, as the Eagles have defeated every CRC squad they have come in contact with this season. The boys team is extremely small, with just seven swimmers, but is also extremely talented and will make a push to win individual titles at the meet.
HRV Head Coach Kelly Cunningham has liked what she’s seen from her athletes this season and expects to see more noteworthy performances this weekend and during the state meet.
‘With the limited amount of time we have had in the water due to weather this season, both the girls and boys have swum very well. Overall, they have improved throughout the season.’
“With the limited amount of time we have had in the water due to weather this season, both the girls and boys have swum very well. Overall, they have improved throughout the season,” she said. “We have very talented boys on our team. They are strong swimmers and though they are few, they do still make a show in their relays and individual events enough to help the boys team perform well overall.”
German exchange student Sarah Gottschalk has been one of the standouts for the girls team, taking first in every race she’s entered this year. Anna Keunbach, another German exchange student, was a competitive swimming neophyte at the beginning of the season, but has, “continued to drop times and is now swimming as fast and well as swimmers who have been competing for years,” Cunningham said. She also lauded the improved times of Allie Burke, a junior who recovered from a head injury she sustained last year, and Yasmeen Ziada, a “strong swimmer” who has improved despite the lack of practice time.
For the boys, the Hecksel brothers — David and Phillip — have led the way in the pool this season. Phillip is a senior and David is a freshman, but both are new to the team this year, and have made quite the impact on the small squad.
“Phillip is a senior who has consistently performed well and has been a wonderful addition to the team, (he) will likely continue on to state individually,” Cunningham said. “David, a freshman, has come in and improved times this season and we are looking forward to continuing working with David over the next three years.”
The team finished its regular season competition last week with a dual meet against Centennial. The girls beat Centennial 618-319 and the boys lost 604-359.
At the district meet this weekend, swimmers must place first in their events to advance to the state meet Feb. 17-18 at the Mt. Hood Aquatic Center in Gresham. Depending on if there are enough open slots at state, Cunningham said that some athletes can also advance as wildcards.
The district meet will take place at the Hood River Aquatic Center; prelims started Friday evening (results not available at press time), and the finals begin Saturday morning at 9.