Ashland’s volleyball program had quite a run brewing from 2005-09, securing top-four state trophies in all five seasons.
GRESHAM — Breanna Sapienza wanted to try something different this swimming season, so the Cascade Christian junior switched events.
No matter that she won a state championship last year in the 50-yard freestyle. She shelved that event in favor of the 100 breaststroke.
“It seems to be working out,” she laughed Friday following preliminary competition at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state meet at Mount Hood Community College.
Sapienza set a meet record in the 100 breast with a time of 1 minute, 5.59 seconds. It broke the mark of 1:05.92 by Cascade's Crystal Kibby in 2010.
Sapienza, a four-time state champion, also captured the 100 butterfly for the second straight year last season and is out to make it three straight in that event. Her prelim time of 55.54 seconds was within a second of the meet record she established in 2012 and was more than seven seconds faster than her closest pursuer.
The finals for all classifications — the 6A and 5A meets are also being held here — are today.
In other 4A/3A/2A/1A events, Phoenix reveled in several outstanding performances.
Junior Alyse Darnall is the top seed in the 100 freestyle and No. 2 in the 100 back, breaking her own school records in each event Friday.
She's also on the 200 free relay team, which, on the strength of a school record, made a stunning jump from the No. 12 seed entering the prelims to the top spot for today's finals. The same quartet set a Phoenix record in the 400 free and is seeded second in that event as well.
In 5A, Ashland senior Gus Simms and sophomore Cole Harding each qualified for the finals in two individual events and swam on the 200 and 400 free relays that gained No. 2 finals berths.
In 6A, North Medford sophomore Grace Jovanovic was the lone local swimmer to make the finals, doing so in the 100 fly.
Sapienza's strength is the butterfly. She competed in that event at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer and is taking aim at not only her own small-school meet record today but the overall state record — which she missed by 11/100ths of a second last year.
Her 4A/3A/2A/1A record is 54.63 seconds. She's chasing the overall mark of 54.52 set by Roseburg's Kaylin Bing in 2008.
Sapienza's goal today in the butterfly is to be in the 53s.
If she is to be challenged in the finals, it would likely be in the 100 breast.
“I've never been much a breaststroker,” said Sapienza. “I've always been a 'flyer. Now that I'm in the breast, I'm actually starting to like it more. I think I can go really far in my breaststroke.”
Her goal is to eclipse 1:05 today.
She didn't know she set a meet record in her prelim race until teammate Treyson Robbins told her.
“So I said, OK, cool,” she said.
Sophomore Sophie Gemelas of Madras had the second-best prelim time of 1:09.31, well off Sapienza's pace.
“I'm sure tomorrow in the breaststroke I'll have some competition,” said Sapienza. “I'm so looking forward to it. It always helps if you have someone right there so you can strive for more than what you thought you could go before.”
For Phoenix, Darnall clocked 53.32 for the top 100 free prelim time.
In the 100 back, she went 59.41, which would have been a meet record were it not for Ridgeview's Rachel Haney going 58.40. Both times easily bettered the former record of 1:00.01 by North Bend's Denise Green in 2007.
In the 200 free relay, Darnall teamed with juniors Kylie Burks and Olivia Sanchez and freshman Lauren Speaks to set the school record of 1:45.21. The former mark of 1:45.25 was set in 2006. Phoenix went in with a seed time of 1:53.23, the only team that wasn't under 1:50.
The same four swimmers clocked 3:50.70 for the No. 2 spot in the 400 free relay, breaking the Pirate standard of 3:51.88, also set in 2006. District rival Henley had the top time of 3:49.07.
Speaks and Sanchez also made event finals. Speaks is seeded fourth in the 100 breast (1:12.55), lowering the school record she established at last week's district meet by 1.22 seconds. Sanchez is seeded fifth in the 100 fly (1:04.64).
In the 5A meet, Ashland's Simms is No. 2 in the 100 fly — an event he finished third in last year — with a time of 52.16 seconds. Springfield's Carlos Hunnicutt is the top seed at 51.69.
Simms is sixth in the 500 free (4:44.70), while Harding is fifth in the 100 free (50.98) and sixth in the 50 free (23.16).
Seniors Alex Sukles and Miles Furuichi filled out the relays. The 200 free relay was timed in 1:32.55, one second behind leading Summit, and the 400 free relay's time was 3:25.90, almost four seconds behind Summit.
In 6A, Jovanovic is seeded fourth in the 100 fly on the strength of her prelim clocking of 58.90 seconds. She was sixth in that event last year and sixth in the 100 breast, but she missed out on the finals in the latter this time around, placing ninth in prelims.