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Crater’s Reyes-Gentry has eyes on history at state meet

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Crater senior Marcus Reyes-Gentry isn’t one to hide what he’s setting out to try and accomplish at the Class 5A state swimming meet this Friday.

He doesn’t just want to win a state title or two.

He wants to do so in record fashion.

Reyes-Gentry will be competing in two events Friday at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton — the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley. In both events, Reyes-Gentry has designs on posting the top time that the state meet has ever seen.

“I’ve definitely been looking forward to breaking the (100 back) record,” said Reyes-Gentry, who will swim at the University of Notre Dame next season. “I know that it was something that, for the 5A state record, it was my goal to break the 100 back my sophomore year, but I got disqualified at districts so I wasn’t able to swim it at state. Last year, we didn’t have a season, so this year I’m going for the all-time record.”

That all-time record of 48.53 seconds for the 100 back was set by Patrick Mulcare of Southridge at the 2014 state meet. The 5A record of 50.03 was set that same year by Mountain View’s Brandon Deckard.

The all-time 200 I.M. record is 1 minute, 48.01 seconds, set by Beaverton’s Van Mathias in 2018, while the 5A record of 1:50.81 was set by Carlos Hunnicutt of Springfield in 2014.

Reyes-Gentry, 17, swam the 100 back in 48.03 and the 200 I.M. in 1:52.52 at the Midwestern League district meet last weekend.

So to say he’s in position to make history is a pretty good line of thinking.

“I’m feeling good about it and I’m pretty confident I’ll go faster than my time at districts,” said Reyes-Gentry, who won Crater’s first two swimming state titles as a freshman in 2019 in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.

“At districts, my club coach Siouxha (Tokman) over at Superior Stingrays, he didn’t really rest me at all for that meet. Districts, we approached it like it was a meet where I go to and see where I do while still in full training. For state this week, he’s cut back a little bit and given me a little easier workouts. I should be more rested than I was last weekend.”

He did it all while tweaking his knee in practice the day before the district meet.

“Considering the circumstances, I was happy with how I swam at districts,” said Reyes-Gentry. “(The knee) was hurting a little bit throughout the meet, but I was happy with how I did.”

So how’s the knee feeling a week later?

“It’s better now,” said Reyes-Gentry. “It was swollen for a few days, but the swelling has gone down and now it’s just bruised. I’m pretty confident I will better my times.”

Bruises and all, Reyes-Gentry heads to state as the guy to beat in both of his races Friday.

Not that it’s much of a surprise knowing what times he put up in qualifying for the state meet.

While he hasn’t swam for Crater much the last couple of years as his concentration has been on competing with the Stingrays at the regional and national level, Reyes-Gentry has circled his final state meet as the one where he wants to leave his mark.

The 100 back is Reyes-Gentry’s wheelhouse and the stroke that he intends to focus on when he gets to Notre Dame.

The 200 I.M. is a little different ballgame for the simple fact that Reyes-Gentry doesn’t swim it as often.

“It is kind of different to prepare for the I.M.,” said Reyes-Gentry, “because the 200 I.M. is more of, I’d say, a strategical race whereas the 100 back is just all-out sprinting. To prepare for each race is super different in practice, so Siouxha has been giving me a good combination of both or a good set of practices that will prepare me for both. But they’re two completely different races that I have to prepare for mentally.”

Reyes-Gentry said he’s been watching old video of his own and Olympic races to prepare for Friday’s pair of outings.

The ultimate goal is to do what he did as a freshman — win a pair of state titles and do it in an impressive fashion.

“It would be super exciting because I haven’t been able to really compete at state since sophomore year,” said Reyes-Gentry. “I haven’t been able to win the 100 back since I was a freshman. It’s definitely been a long time coming and I’m excited to showcase my improvement from freshman year when I won the 100 back.”

Also at the 5A finals, Ashland is set to compete in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay on both the boys and girls side.

Mary Downs may be the Grizzlies’ best chance to get to the podium Friday, with the fourth-best qualifying time in the girls 100 breaststroke. She’s also in the field for the 100 butterfly, as is teammate Amelia Mercado, who’s also swimming in the 100 free.

The Grizzlies’ Ben Caron and Aiden Espinoza will face Reyes-Gentry in the boys 200 I.M. and 100 back, respectively.

At the 6A level, which holds its state meet Saturday, North Medford’s Dylan Wittenberg will be the Black Tornado’s lone representative after recording the seventh-fastest qualifying times in the boys 100 free (48.65) and 200 free (1:46.99).

South Medford sophomore Ellie Carson is the only Panther who qualified for state in the girls 200 free with an Southwest Conference-best time of 2:01.97 earlier this month.

Grants Pass, coming off a boys team title at the SWC district meet, will have a relay team for the boys and girls 200 freestyle relays.

The Cavers also have Tayler Ziegler competing in the girls 50 free and 100 free, Calvin Eagan in the boys 500 free, Jacob Pirosko in the boys 100 free and 500 free and Kama Henriques in the boys 100 free.

In Saturday’s 4A/3A/2A/1A meet, St. Mary’s has the largest local contingent competing with a total of 10 swimmers heading to Beaverton.

The Crusaders’ best chance to claim a first-place medal at state is senior Asa Frisbee, who recorded the fastest qualifying time in the 100 free (47.41) and third-fastest in the 200 free (1:47.13).

Frisbee will also be part of the Crusaders’ relay team in the 200 free that qualified with the second-best time in the state (1:37.49).

“Asa’s intensity in practice, his dedication to the sport, has really propelled him to a couple of district titles and to really lead the pack for (4A/3A/2A/1A) swimming,” said St. Mary’s head coach Chris Lessenich. “To be really honest with you, I think he’s going to win both the 100 and the 200.”

“He’s the ultimate competitor,” continued Lessenich. “He rises to the moment, he’s ready and I think, overall, his mental fortitude in regards to competition, in regards to swimming, is just top tier. He’s one of the most humble yet competitive kids that I’ve been around and I think he really cares. He prides himself on being the best athlete and student-athlete that he can.”

St. Mary’s Caleb Bingham, like Frisbee, will swim in a pair of individual events — the 200 I.M. and the 100 back — as well as relay duties. Same goes for freshman Lucas Impert, who will compete in the 100 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke and is on the Crusaders’ relay teams.

The Crusaders’ Annikka Fetro qualified eighth in the girls 100 fly with a time of 1:07.23.

St. Mary’s will also compete in the boys 400 free relay and the girls 200 free relay.

Phoenix and Cascade Christian will also have a relay team competing in the girls 200 free relay.

Cascade’s Joezie Mitchell has a chance to make the podium after recording the fourth-fastest qualifying times in the girls 200 I.M. (2:22.82) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.25). She is also on the Challengers’ relay team in the 200 free.

The 6A meet will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and the 4A/3A/2A/1A finals are set to begin later in the day at 4:45 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to being back at a fully-competitive state championship environment,” said Lessenich. “Last year, we didn’t even get a district meet because of COVID, so it’s just going to be great to travel up there, spend one more week together as a team. It’s a cool experience and we’re definitely looking to get a state championship under our belt.”

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry works out in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry works out in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry works out in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMarcus Reyes-Gentry works out in the Superior Athletic Club aquatic center pool in Medford.