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South set to complete milestone season

When the Class 6A swimming state championships begin today, it will mark an historic occasion for the South Medford program.

The Panthers qualified in eight events, the most in school history, including two boys relay teams — the first time a boys relay team from South has reached the state meet.

"I'm so proud of the way this team has focused," first-year South coach Doug Stewart said. "I couldn't be happier. We just set the stage with creating goals at the beginning of the season and the team stayed focused on those goals. They worked hard and accomplished them."

The team hoped to send a girls and a boys relay team to state, two individual girls and two individual boys.

The Panthers failed to accomplish only one of those, with sophomore Clark Snyder being the lone boys individual qualifier.

Snyder will compete in the 200-yard freestyle as the 15th seed out of 18 and in the 100 free as the 16th seed. He'll also swim on South's relay teams in the 200 medley (18th seed) and 200 freestyle (10th seed) along with sophomore Ryken Robbins, junior Lucas Goossens and junior Matt Gardner.

The two girls individual qualifiers are junior Kelsey Hoeper, the 13th seed in the 100 freestyle, and junior Melissa Ghiglieri, the 17th seed in the 100 breaststroke.

Hoeper and Ghiglieri will team with sophomore Chloe Beecher and junior Paige Granger to form the 200 freestyle relay team (10th seed) and with Granger and sophomore Judy Hawley for the 400 freestyle relay team (14th seed).

All four of South's state-qualifying relay teams broke school records this season.

Stewart said the boys and girls 200 freestyle relay teams have "a great chance" to place, as do Snyder and Hoeper in the 100 freestyle.

To place, swimmers must finish in the top 12. The first six are considered finalists with the next six deemed consolation finalists.

"I think I've prepared them," Stewart said. "I told them to focus where they want to go, where they want to be. They've worked hard and they're prepared and they deserve to be there."

Josh Silver, a senior, is the only qualifier from North Medford. He'll compete in the 50 freestyle as the fifth seed after taking second in that event at districts with a time of 21.87 seconds.

"One of the things that is amazing about him is that he's a high school-only swimmer," fifth-year North coach Barbara Clements-Houck said. "He doesn't swim club. He's one of those absolutely coachable kids."

Westview, with five top seeds, and David Douglas, with four, are the projected team favorites.

Prelims for Class 6A begin today, with finals on Friday.

Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com