There are banners that hang in the Corvallis High gym representing state championships that the Spartans have won over the years.
One of those banners was added in 2011, when the boys swim team captured its first title.
For several members of that team, it is a source of pride as they continue their education at CHS.
“Seeing the first one in 2011 and getting to walk in and look at it and be like, I was a part of that, I contributed to that, that’s a great feeling because they don’t come that often,” junior Brandon Shreeve said. “Being able to put another one up there would be pretty cool.”
Shreeve and his teammates have a good chance to make that a reality when they compete in the 5A state meet today and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
Today’s prelims are set for 1:45 p.m. with the top six swimmers advancing to Saturday’s finals, set for 1 p.m.
“I would definitely say so,” senior Joe Cihak said of the Spartans’ chances to win another team title. “If you look at the spread of everyone who qualified for state, there’s more Corvallis swimmers than any other team out there. Even Summit, our major competitor, doesn’t have as many qualifiers for state as we do.
“As long as all of our swimmers step it up in prelims and get into those fifth, sixth finals spots, those are just points we wouldn’t have had before just by qualifying for the finals.”
The Spartans have six swimmers competing in two individual events and another in one. And all three relays should be strong.
Shreeve, Cihak, Ian Campbell, Joe Serewis, Nick Gambatese and Trevor Gourley will all swim two individual races at the state meet; Adrian Van Horsen is in one.
Those individual races are important, obviously, but teams can rack up the points in the relays.
And it makes high school swimming more of a team sport than an individual one.
“When you get an opportunity with relays, it’s really an opportunity to come together as a team and show what you can do as a team and it’s really exciting,” Campbell said.
Added Shreeve: “(It’s) getting to swim for something more than your individual goal. Getting to swim for the other three guys and being able to do your best for them.”
And that fits right in to the strength of the Spartans, or so they hope.
In 2011, Campbell, Shreeve and Cihak were part of the 400-yard freestyle relay that won a title. Campbell and Cihak were also part of the title-winning 200 freestyle relay. Shreeve was on the fourth-place 200 medley relay team.
Shreeve was second in the 500 freestyle and fourth in the 200 freestyle; Campbell was fifth in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 freestyle and Cihak was fifth in the 100 breaststroke.
Those three were underclassmen that year. And while they could have returned to make a run at back-to-back titles, they decided to skip a season of high school swimming for an opportunity they just couldn’t pass up — a chance to compete in national level meets with the Corvallis Aquatic Team.
Cihak said they were educational and fun.
“We got to see people like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, swim in pools we had never swam in before,” he said. “It was just a really fascinating experience.”
They teamed with the likes of Jacob Pebley, a Crescent Valley grad who is now swimming at California and was part of the Olympic trials last summer, as well as Logan Storie, a CHS grad who swam four years at Florida and was also at the trials last summer.
“We were able to swim relays with them and set club records that we wouldn’t have been able to set without them,” Cihak said. “We had a lot of confliction with club and high school swimming and since we would be able to do high school the year after that and we wouldn’t have another year with Jacob and Logan to set those records and go to those swim meets, we decided that we would not do high school.”
It was also a humbling experience, Shreeve said.
“Just having the experience at the upper level meets and kind of getting a little bit of a smack in the face, like oh you’re not so great anymore, you have to keep working hard helps keep you humble and keeps you motivated to do better and work harder,” he said.
The Spartans have been working hard. And it helps to have had those experiences as well as teammates who push them each day in practice.
Campbell and Shreeve are sure to duke it out in the pool this weekend. Shreeve has the top qualifying time in the 500 freestyle; Campbell is second.
Shreeve is third in the 200 freestyle while Campbell is fourth.
“I know between Brandon and I, we’re both distance swimmers so we do a lot of the same sets together and having someone else next to you knowing that they’re pushing themselves as hard or harder, just makes it that you can push yourself together,” Campbell said. “You both just thrive from the experience.
Added Shreeve: “Some days I’ll do better, some days Ian will do better. Then we get to the race, then it’s like none of that matters; it’s now who can do better on this day and this time who’s going to come out on top. It’s always fun.”
There is definitely a friendly rivalry.
“A little bit of trash talking but when it comes down to it, we all want each other to go really fast and that’s all that matters,” Campbell said.
If they can go fast, there’s a good chance the Spartans will get to hang another banner in the gym.
How would that feel?
“Amazing,” Cihak said.
“Incredible,” Shreeve said.
“A great way to end senior year,” Campbell said.