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Freestyle sprinters Nelson, Amoroso charge to state

ASHLAND ' Arron Nelson and Raphael Amoroso used to be close.

They were teammates in the Superior Aquatics Swim Club during their elementary school days.

Seven years later, the two freestyle sprinters were close again Saturday as competitors at the Southern Oregon Conference district championships.

Their two relatively short-burst races ' the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events ' were among the most exciting on a day marked by Roseburg's team dominance and sterling efforts by a smattering of Rogue Valley swimmers.

The winners in each event qualified for the state meet Feb. 21-22 at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham. In addition, those who met qualifying standards also advanced. Others could go as remaining lane openings are filled by the next-fastest district times from around the state.

Roseburg, whose Patrick O'Neil broke one district record and matched another, won the boys meet with 288 points to runner-up Ashland's 226.

The Indians claimed the girls meet with 387 points. Ashland was again second with 221.

Ashland's Nelson and Grants Pass' Amoroso each edged the other out for one victory, but they each advanced to state in both events after eclipsing the qualifying standards.

Nelson, a junior, claimed the 50 free in 22.05 seconds to Amoroso's 22.42, .26 below the standard.

I had two concerns, said Ashland coach Neil Foley. One, Raphael is taller than Arron, and in the short races, the bigger swimmer has a distinct advantage. And two, Raphael swam the race of his life yesterday, so we knew he was on.

Indeed, Amoroso went 22.58 in the preliminaries Friday to grab the top seed from Nelson, whose time was 22.72.

Nelson liked it that way.

I kind of wanted to go in in second place, he said. It made me get fear in my body. It fired me up, got me ready for battle.

Nelson had an immediate advantage with a flawless start, then followed it up with a crisp turn at the wall to keep Amoroso at bay.

In the 50, said Foley, one mistake and you're out of the picture.

Amoroso attributed that loss in part to the shark skin swimsuit Nelson wore down to his ankles, and Nelson agreed it was a nice option to have.

The taut material keeps water off the legs and reduces drag. Although the suits are perfectly legal, few people wear them because they retail for &

36;120 to &

36;140, said Foley, and they wear out after about four races from being put on and taken off.

Amoroso turned the tables on Nelson in the 100 free.

Nelson had a minuscule edge at the 75-yard mark, but, On my flip turn, I barely touched the wall with my toes, he said, and Amoroso took advantage with long, smooth strokes the final 25 yards to the finishing wall.

He triumphed in 48.93. Nelson came in a hair later, at 48.99, which was .51 better than the state standard.

I've been doing this for 10 years, said Amoroso, who bettered his goal of the low 49-second range. It finally paid off.

Other top area performers were John Cooper of Eagle Point, Lynea Loeffler of South Medford and Tolga Tokman of North Medford.

Cooper became the first Eagle Point swimmer to qualify for state when he won the 200 free in 1:57.17.

That made our year, said coach Richard Koopmans.

Cooper, then a junior, moved here from Bakersfield, Calif., at the start of school last year.

For the district meet, he moved from the 100 to the 200 free because that's where his best shot of advancing was.

On my flip turn, he said of his final lap, I just started going as fast as I could. My heart rate was probably off the chart. It feels great just to represent my school at state.

The senior Loeffler didn't meet her pre-race goal of 5:30 in the 500 free, but she hit 5:38.07, which was good enough for the triumph.

My goal was to stay in front of her, Loeffler said of her chief competition, runner-up Annie Embertson of Roseburg, who clocked 5:39.02. I made her chase me instead of me chasing her. I was feeling weak at the end. I just wanted to win. That's all I was thinking about.

Tokman, a freshman, easily captured the 500 free, winning by nearly 15 seconds with a time of 5:31.47.

He wasn't so fortunate in the 100 backstroke, placing second to Grants Pass' Scott Daniels, who clocked 57.72 to the Black Tornado's 58.00.

Two boys relay teams to qualify for state were Ashland's 400 free and Grants Pass' 200 medley.

The Grizzlies' squad of Travis Bishop, Jeremy Johnson, Geoff Berteau and Nelson won in 3:38.30.

The Grants Pass quartet didn't win, but its time of 1:43.45 bettered the qualifying standard. The team was comprised of Daniels, Tyler VanBrunt, Amoroso and Dan Johnson.

Roseburg senior O'Neil, meanwhile, assaulted his own records, breaking the 100 butterfly mark of 52.07 with a 51.30 clocking, and matching his 200 individual medley time of 1:56.01.

SOC District Swimming

BOYS

TEAM SCORES '

1, Roseburg, 288; 2, Ashland, 226; 3, Grants Pass, 160; 4, North Medford, 129; 5, South Medford, 116; 6, Klamath Union, 107; 7, Crater, 96; 8, Eagle Point, 91.

200 MEDLEY RELAY '

1, Roseburg (Patrick O'Neil, Ryan Russell, Garrett Shields, Nels Walther), 1:41.94; x-

2, Grants Pass, 1:43.45; 3, North Medford, 1:57.32; 4, South Medford, 2:00.42; 5, Klamath Union, 2:00.71; 6, Crater, 2:02.69.

200 FREESTYLE '

1, John Cooper, EP, 1:57.17; 2, Colin Soder, Ros, 2:00.30; 3, Ryan Daven, Ros, 2:00.44; 4, Nicholas Janssen, Cra, 2:01.72; 5, Ben Dawson, Ash, 2:01.99; 6, Drew Snyder, KU, 2:07.57.

200 INdivIDUAL MEDLEY '

1, Patrick O'Neil, Ros, 1:56.01*

; 2, Jay Biethan, Ros, 2:14.06; 3, Geoff Berteau, Ash, 2:16.59; 4, Nick Stevenson, NM, 2:20.86; 5, Michael Heckert, Cra, 2:27.79; 6, Nick Benedetti, Ash, 2:37.25.

50 FREESTYLE '

1, Arron Nelson, Ash, 22.05; x-

2, Raphael Amoroso, GP, 22.42; 3, Ryan Russell, Ros, 23.78; 4, John Cooper, EP,

23.93; 5, Dan Johnson, GP, 24.43; 6, Patrick Orr, Ros, 25.66.

100 BUTTERFLY '

1, Patrick O'Neil, Ros, 51.30*

; 2, Marcus Moravec, KU, 58.26; 3, Travis Bishop, Ash, 58.99; 4, Bill Rogers, Ros, 1:00.71; 5, Geoff Berteau, Ash, 1:02.38; NS, Adam Zoppo, GP.

100 FREESTYLE '

1, Raphael Amoroso, GP, 48.93; x-

2, Arron Nelson, Ash, 48.99; 3, Nels Walther, Ros, 50.99; 4, Garrett Shields, Ros, 53.30; 5, Patrick Orr, Ros, 58.83; 6, John Harris, Ash, 1:02.42.

500 FREESTYLE '

1, Tolga Tokman, NM, 5:16.82; 2, Ben Dawson, Ash, 5:31.47; 3, Jay Biethan, Ros, 5:35.28; 4, Scott Goings, SM, 5:38.15; 5, Nicholas Janssen, Cra, 5:48.76; Drew Snyder, KU, 5:57.67.

200 FREESTYLE RELAY '

1, Roseburg (Russell Ryan, Patrick O'Neil, Garrett Shields, Nels Walther), 1:30.88; 2, Grants Pass, 1:32.52; 3, Ashland, 1:36.12; 4, South Medford, 1:43.14; 5, Eagle Point, 1:45.96; 6, North Medford, 1:46.45.

100 BACKSTROKE '

1, Scott Daniels, GP, 57.72; 2, Tolga Tokman, NM, 58.00; 3, Colin Soder, Ros, 1:02.87; 4, Ryan Daven, Ros, 1:03.13; 5, Michael Heckert, Cra, 1:05.02; 6, Scott Sell, Ash, 1:16.66.

100 BREASTSTROKE '

1, Garrett Shields, Ros, 1:06.22; 2, Nick Stevenson, NM, 1:06.93; 3, Tyler VanBrunt, GP, 1:07.65; 4, Travis Bishop, Ash, 1:08.97; 5, Marcus Moravec, KU, 1:09.16; 6, Bill Rogers, Ros, 1:10.60.

400 FREESTYLE RELAY '

1, Ashland (Travis Bishop, Jeremy Johnson, Geoff Berteau, Arron Nelson), 3:38.30; 2, Grants Pass, 3:51.31; 3, Klamath Union, 3:55.63; 4, Eagle Point, 4:07.33; 5, Crater, 4:41.57; 6, North Medford, 4:41.66.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES '

Roseburg 387, Ashland 221, North Medford 153, South Medford 131, Grants Pass 119, Crater 88, Eagle Point 75, Klamath Union 58.

200 MEDLEY RELAY '

1,

Roseburg (Jennifer Saylor, Alyssa Daven, Katherine Thompson, Jessica Wafer), 1:53.63; 2, North Medford, 2:07.26; 3, South Medford, 2:10.28; 4, Ashland, 2:12.89; 5, Eagle Point, 2:12.90; 6, Crater, 2:14.01.

200 FREESTYLE '

1, Katherine O'Neil, Ros, 2:05.60; 2, Annie Embertson, Ros, 2:07.14; 3, Lynea Loeffler, SM, 2:08.17; 4, Erin Kulmac, NM, 2:09.96; 5, Ashley Roda, Ash, 2:10.79; 6, Melissa Gilmore, NM, 2:12.00.

200 INdivIDUAL MEDLEY '

1, Katherine Thompson, Ros, 2:10.99; 2, Jessica Wafer, Ros, 2:20.04; 3, Nichole Fox, SM, 2:34.32; 4, Nicole Durchanek, Ros, 2:38.42; 5, Angie Scarminach, Ash, 2:38.73; 6, Karen Kralik, SM, 2:39.07.

50 FREESTYLE '

1, Alyssa Daven, Ros, 26.18; 2, Nancy Hawley, SM, 26.38; 3, Michelle Smith, Ash, 26.62; 4, Shandra Tronnes, Ros, 27.25; 5, Christina Cobb, GP, 27.31; 6, Haley Scoles, Ash, 27.63.

100 BUTTERFLY '

1, Jennifer Saylor, Ros, 1:01.39; 2, Cassie O'Neill, Ros, 1:04.42; 3, Madison Swinn, Ros, 1:06.11; 4, Erin Kulmac, NM, 1:07.99; 5, Angie Scarminach, Ash, 1:10.92; 6, Makenzie Wood, Cra, 1:12.23.

100 FREESTYLE '

1, Katherine O'Neil, Ros, 57.51; 2, Michelle Smith, Ash, 58.91; 3, Nancy Hawley, SM, 59.42; 4, Shandra Tronnes, Ros, 59.82; 5, Ashley Roda, Ash, 59.85; 6, Christina Cobb, GP, 59.93.

500 FREESTYLE '

1, Lynea Loeffler, SM, 5:38.07; 2, Annie Embertson, Ros, 5:39.02; 3, Melissa Gilmore, NM, 5:51.36; 4, Faye Walker, Ash, 6:07.77; 5, Carolina Mesia, Ros, 6:38.69; 6, Chantelle Little, Ash, 6:41.80.

200 FREESTYLE RELAY '

1, Roseburg (Alyssa Daven, Katherine O'Neil, Jennifer Saylor, Shandra Tronnes), 1:45.05; 2, Ashland, 1:50.64; 3, North Medford, 1:51.84; 4, South Medford, 1:53.05; 5, Grants Pass, 1:54.30; 6, Eagle Point, 1:55.12.

100 BACKSTROKE '

1, Katherine Thompson, Ros, 58.96; x-

2, Jennifer Saylor, Ros, 1:00.13; 3, Xochitl Torres, GP, 1:11.60; 4, Latoya Wolfer, Cra, 1:12.04; 5, Ashley Piper, Ros, 1:13.27; 6, Gianna Ramos, NM, 1:14.78.

100 BREASTSTROKE '

1, Cassie O'Neill, Ros, 1:10.08; 2, Madison Swinn, Ros, 1:10.37; 3, Jessica Wafer, Ros, 1:11.25; 4, Alyssa Daven, Ros, 1:11.32; 5, Rachel Heck, GP, 1:19.95; 6, Anna Nentwig, KU, 1:22.16.

400 FREESTYLE RELAY '

1, Roseburg (Annie Embertson, Katherine O'Neill, Katherine Thompson, Shandra Tronnes), 3:54.06; 2, Ashland, 4:06.20; 3, Grants Pass, 4:21.26; 4, North Medford, 4:22.96; 5, Crater, 4:32.48; 6, Klamath Union, 4:42.73.

x '

state-qualifying time

*

district record

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail