Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
The high school swimming community can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The Breanna Sapienza reign has ended.
That said, they now have to worry about a new threat — St. Mary's.
Sapienza, the Cascade Christian senior, put the final touches on an impeccable career with two more state titles and the St. Mary's girls claimed the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A team championship in its first year of existence at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham on Saturday.
The Vanderbilt-bound Sapienza — who owns eight career titles after picking up two each year — dominated in the 100-yard butterfly, winning by more than seven seconds and breaking her 2012 record with a time of 54.03 seconds. She also took first in the 50 freestyle (24.30).
The Crusaders set meet records in two relays and senior Alyse Darnall defended her 100 freestyle title to help edge reigning champion North Bend, 48-46. Sweet Home (42) placed third.
"I have a group of great kids who swam their hearts out today and we came away with the win," St. Mary's head coach John Cooper said. "It was close all the way through."
Darnall finished in a rare tie for first place in the 100 free with North Bend's Alyssa Bennett after each clocked 53.49 exactly. Darnall also secured third in the 100 backstroke (1:00.81) and swam legs on both winning relay squads.
St. Mary's set the state record in the 200 medley relay (1:51.29) and 200 freestyle relay (1:41.14). The winning foursome of Darnall, senior Andrea Dow, freshman Olivia Dow and junior Grace Jovanovic first broke the medley relay meet record time on Friday during preliminaries with a mark of 1:53.82.
The previous freestyle relay record was recorded by Henley in 2008 (1:43.35).
"Our relay performances are what really did it for us," coach Cooper said. "We won by almost three seconds apiece."
Seeing the girls 100 free finish in a tie was surprising, coach Cooper said. Both Darnall and Bennett earned six points for it.
"I have never seen that happen in the 10 years I've been coaching," coach Cooper said. "I have never seen it as a swimmer. ... When I looked at the scoreboard I couldn't believe it. No one could."
Jovanovic was second in the 200 individual medley (2:11.72).
With North Bend on its tail, St. Mary's all but sealed the triumph with fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the 100 breast by Jovanovic and Olivia Dow, Cooper said.
For the St. Mary's boys, Dan Huth took fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:05.51).
Phoenix's Ethan Shepherd was sixth (52.25) in the 100 free and 50 free (23.49). The Pirates 200 free relay squad claimed sixth (1:36.35) with Aaron Heard, Taylor Brown, Nick Leiter and Shepherd.
At 5A, Ashland senior Cole Harding captured fourth in the 50 free (22.74) and was fifth in the 500 free (4:56.74).
In 6A, South Medford senior Kaylee Cooper was sixth in the 200 free A finals (1:50.57) and was 10th in the 100 butterfly B finals (1:00.22)
North Medford's Lauren Hunter took seventh in the 100 backstroke B finals (59.60) and was 11th in the 50 free B finals (25.35).
The Sunset boys won the 6A title and Century picked up the 6A girls crown.
At 5A, Summit swept the team titles.
For her career, Sapienza won four state titles in the butterfly, three in the free and one in the 100 breaststroke.
Finishing second to Sapienza in the 50 free on Saturday was Sisters' Mary Stewart (25.11).
Sweet Home's Jessica Coats was a distant second in the 100 butterfly (1:01.57).
Sapienza's time in the butterfly broke her meet record of 54.63 from 2012.
While Sapienza can focus on club and collegiate swimming now, Cooper is already thinking about next year's high school season.
"I am," he said. "How we'll fill spots left by the seniors. The boys will be much stronger, too. I'm thinking about how we are going to strategize."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt