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Phoenix boys win title, but Jasmer steals show

Heath sets two district records for the Pirate boys, while the North Bend standout leaves all in her wake

ASHLAND ' Phoenix stole a handful of victories and berths to next week's Class 3A-2A-1A state swimming championships.

As the host team, it swiped the lion's share of applause.

It even pilfered a second straight District 4 boys crown at the Southern Oregon University pool Saturday.

What the Pirates couldn't steal was the spotlight.

Grand theft illumination was perpetrated by North Bend wunderkind Kim Jasmer.

Phoenix outdistanced Cottage Grove for the boys team championship, 244 points to 170.

It was the third district title for the Pirates, who got two district-record freestyle efforts from sophomore Justin Heath, another individual crown from backstroker Jeff Stone and two relay gold medals.

The girls team crown went to Cottage Grove, with 219 points. North Bend was runner-up at 199, and Phoenix placed fourth with 184.

The winners in each event qualified for the state meet, which is Friday and Saturday at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham. More swimmers could advance if their times are better than those from other district meets.

One person who didn't have to worry about advancing was Jasmer.

After smashing the district record in the 200-yard freestyle by more than 12 seconds, the sophomore obliterated the 500 free standard with a time that makes a mockery of the existing state mark.

State records can only be set at the state meet.

More's the pity.

Jasmer's clocking of 4 minutes, 57.95 seconds is so far below the Class 3A state mark of 5:10.22 set last year by Ginny Connell of Wilsonville that you need a depth-finder to detect it.

It goes down only as a district record, but it was a swim that validates the master plan coach Chris Richmond has for his prodigy.

We like it, beamed Richmond, moments after Jasmer eclipsed the five-minute barrier for the first time. Something must be working.

Jasmer, who does her most serious swimming for the South Coast Aquatic Club, did not gear up for the district meet. Her sights are set on state, where she hopes to go 4:55, then the senior sectionals a couple weeks later, where she'd like to hit 4:52.

If those goals are met, she'll seek U.S. Open and national qualifying standards.

North Bend moved from Class 4A to 3A this year. Even though Jasmer didn't perform as well at state last season as she did at district, she still was fourth in the 4A 500 and seventh in the 200.

She appears to be peaking again.

Jasmer kept an eye on her splits during the 500 and knew she was blazing.

When I flipped the last time, I got extra excitement, she said, admitting her goal was to break five minutes. I wasn't expecting to break it by three seconds.

I've been working really hard, and my goals seem to be perfect for how hard I'm working.

Her 200 time was 1:53.98, just six-tenths of a second off her career best.

Heath captured the 200 free in 1:51.68, setting a district mark and edging out the person who owned it previously, Mark Pepitone of Hidden Valley.

Pepitone went 1:51.79 last year but couldn't duplicate it this time, going 1:52.83.

Nevertheless, he had a big hand in Heath's success.

I asked Justin, 'Did you thank Mark for pushing you?' said Jim Heath, Justin's father and the Phoenix coach. He said, 'Yeah, I did.' That's what's good about competition.

Pepitone, who would later win the 100 butterfly, came into the meet with a best of 1:56.00 in the 200 and surprised Heath with his strong swim.

Today, he just busted two minutes, said Heath. I was just hoping he wouldn't catch me there on that last lap.

That doesn't happen much. One of Heath's fortes is a strong finish, and he proved it in the 500 free.

Cottage Grove's Eric Elligott had the lead coming off the wall for Lap 16, but not for long.

Once he came up in front of me, I just wanted to get back in front of him, said Heath. I started to push it a little more. When I'm real tired in the last 50 yards, I always find enough strength to go faster.

His time of 5:08.51 eclipsed the district record of 5:15.79 set in 2001 by Chris Ritter of Mazama.

Heath also was on the two victorious relays.

The 200 free relay included KC Cloud, Dino Rossi and Jake Nelson and produced a time of 1:36.56.

The 400 free relay was filled out by Rossi, Nelson and Stone and went 3:32.24.

Stone triumphed in the 100 back, overcoming problems at the wall to nip Zachary Zimmer of Henley.

Stone clocked 1:01.22 ' only his second time in the 1:01s, the prelims being the other. Zimmer went 1:02.50.

He had me on the turns every time, said Stone, a junior, but I pulled away in the straightaways. That's what got me through.

Turns had not been a problem, he added.

I have to get back in the pool and work on my turns for state, he said.

Phoenix didn't have any girl winners.

Freshman standout Kelsey Nelson finished second in the 200 individual medley with a personal-best 2:23.36. Defending champion Kim Settelmeyer of Cottage Grove won in 2:21.47.

Nelson led through the first discipline, the butterfly, but it didn't hold up.

I knew I had to get her in the fly, said Nelson. I was told she was really good in the back and freestyle.

That was evident when Settelmeyer quickly took over the lead.

I punched it in the backstroke ' that's my fastest stroke, said Settelmeyer. Then I just hope I don't die by the time I get to the freestyle, which I usually do. But I did OK and pulled it through.

Nelson also was second in the 100 free in 57.67. Aubrey Vaughn, a freshman from Reedsport, won in a district-record 55.85.

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