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Eagle Swimmers of the girls 400 freestyle relay huddle for a final word before their race.

The Hood River Valley High School Swim teams performed well at the OSAA State Swimming Championships this past weekend in Tualatin Hills. While there was an initial concern about Hood River traveling in the intense winter weather, they were able to arrive on schedule with a bit of help from Pendleton High School. This meet marked the conclusion for an incredibly successful season for both the boys and girls swim teams; each had select athletes racing at state.

“The positive attitude our team had while they battled the snow to get to State lasted through the meet and enabled them to finish strong at the end of the day,” said coach Shelly Rawding.

On the boys side, senior Chad Klaas led the effort and had the overall highest placement of any Eagle with his third place finish in the 50 freestyle; he also got fourth in the 100 butterfly. Luke Southall was another contributor for the boys team with his ninth place finish in the 200 freestyle. Southall and Klaas would team up with Owen Summersett and David Hecksel for two relay events as well the — 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle — where they would place seventh and ninth respectively. Overall, the boys would finish 12th in team standings out of 33 teams, an impressive feat considering the number of events they competed in.

For the girls, freshman phenom Sarah Arpag and junior Faith Ocheskey were superb in their individual performances; Arpag finished fifth and fourth respectively in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, while Ocheskey finished fourth and ninth in the 100 freestyle and 50 freestyle. Celilo Brun also placed for the Eagles, coming in 10th in the 200 IM.  All three girls were joined by Madaket Greenleaf for the 200 medley relay, where they placed seventh. Ocheskey and Arpag then teamed with Lillie Tomlinson and Alea McCarty for a strong fifth place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. The girls also had a 200 freestyle relay team entered, but were disqualified from the race for reasons unspecified. As a team they finished eighth.

“I was very fortunate to coach such a wonderful group of athletes this year on the swim teams,” said Rawding. “They gave back to their community weekly by teaching free swim lessons, they were very receptive to coaching and I think we all had fun in the process.”

The Eagles will now have a fair bit of time before they get their feet wet in the pool once again. For now, the team can reflect with pride on their accomplishments this season and the camaraderie they developed as teammates and as friends.

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