The boys Mid-Willamette Conference district swimming meet got off to a record-setting start Saturday at Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis.
Competing in the first event of the day, both the West Albany and Lebanon High 200-yard medley relay teams swam faster than the previous district record.
Lebanon led early with the Bulldogs close behind.
Neither team could pull away, however, as the lead exchanged hands several times before West Albany anchor Austin Barton took the advantage in the end by the narrowest of margins.
The Bulldogs finished with a time of 1 minute, 42.71 seconds and the Warriors came in at 1:42.77.
That victory set the tone for the Bulldogs, who went on to claim the boys’ team title.
“We had some great swims yesterday and even better swims today,” said West Albany coach Babette Romancier. “All in all, I’m very excited with the results. We had some amazing time drops all weekend.”
This season has been marred by extreme weather and missed school days, but the consensus at the pool Saturday was that the swimmers were ready despite Mother Nature’s wrath, and it showed in the times.
Season and personal bests were the theme as every event, on both the boys’ and girls’ sides, saw the winner improve on previous season-best marks.
“Training has been good despite the snow days,” said South Albany sophomore Bryce Dickerson, the winner of the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:05.49. “We’ve had plenty of time in the water.”
Dickerson and West junior Gabe DeSimone came into the 100 breaststroke separated by just .14 seconds and the matchup didn’t disappoint.
With the two neck and neck, DeSimone closed fast on the final lap and came out with the narrow victory. He finished with a time of 1:03.19 compared to Dickerson’s 1:03.51.
DeSimone was limited to the single event due to a lingering shoulder injury.
“Gabe was barely alright to be swimming and his swims were amazing,” Romancier said. “That was exciting to see him succeed and still get an individual berth at state.”
Bulldogs junior Zacary Plum picked up a district title in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.90 and West won the 400 freestyle relay in 3:21.50 to close out the day.
Trevor Gourley of Corvallis High led a tight pack in the 50 freestyle, pulling out the win with a time of 22.28.
Four swimmers finished under 23 seconds in the event, with West’s Austin Barton just .12 seconds behind the Spartans’ junior.
“The race went well,” Gourley said. “I flipped and I saw him (Barton). I just got up on the blocks and went all out and it felt pretty good.”
Gourley also picked up a win in the 100 free with a time of 49.51 — his second straight district title in the event — and swam the anchor leg of the winning 200 free relay team.
Crescent Valley senior Alex Brookes came in 1.46 seconds ahead of Lebanon’s Darrin Breshears in the 100 backstroke, easily landing the Raiders’ lone win and a repeat of his 2013 district championship, finishing with a time of 56.59.
Warriors senior Wyatt Engler won both the 500 and 200 freestyle in 4:47.54 and 1:44.49, respectively.
“They were some nice swims by him,” Lebanon coach Gus Arzner said. “He re-set the school record in both, so he is right where he needs to be.”
Winners of each individual event automatically qualify for the 5A State Championships next Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College. The rest of the field is determined through the best times garnered throughout the various district meets.
Crescent Valley and Corvallis finished second and third, respectively, in the team standings and both squads figure to have several swimmers competing next week.
“There are a lot of people that came in second and third that should get invited,” Spartans coach Judy Storie said. “So that’s exciting. When you think of the season and the snow delays, the kids took it in stride and really swam well today.”
Team scoring: West Albany 414, Crescent Valley 318, Corvallis 251, Lebanon 237, Dallas 232, South Albany 200, Silverton 176
200 medley relay: 1. West Albany (Andrew James, Gabe DeSimone, Zacary Plum, Austin Barton) 1:42.71; 2. Lebanon (Darrin Breshears, Max Thompson, Wyatt Engler, Owen Engler) 1:42.77; 3. Crescent Valley (Alex Brookes, Connor King, Kin-ho Lam, Galen McPherson) 1:47.01
200 freestyle: 1. Wyatt Engler, Lebanon, 1:44.49; 2. Adrian Van Horsen, WA, 1:55; 3. Chad Seevers, CV, 1:55.63
200 IM: 1. Bryce Dickerson, SA, 2:05.49; 2. Andrew James, WA, 2:09.93; 3. Connor King, CV, 2:10.33
50 freestyle: 1. Trevor Gourley, Corvallis, 22.28; 2. Austin Barton, WA, 22.40; 3. Joey Orton, Dallas, 22.74
100 butterfly: 1. Zacary Plum, WA, 56.90; 2. Rylan Rogers, Lebanon, 59.07; 3. Jesse Genualdi, Dallas, 1:00.43
100 freestyle: 1. Trevor Gourley, Corvallis, 49.51; 2. Alex Brookes, CV, 49.80; 3. Austin Barton, WA, 50.35
500 freestyle: 1. Wyatt Engler, Lebanon, 4:47.54; 2. Chad Seevers, CV, 5;12.07; 3. Zack Gardner, SA, 5:29.59
200 freestyle relay: 1. Corvallis (Charlie Way, Quin Peterson, Andrew Atwood, Trevor Gourley) 1:32.14; 2. West Albany (Logan Smith, Andrew James, Adrian Van Horsen, Gabe DeSimone) 1:34.02
100 backstroke: 1. Alex Brookes, CV, 56.59; 2. Darrin Breshears, Lebanon, 58.05; 3. Andrew James, WA, 1:00.32
100 breaststroke: 1. Gabe Desimone, WA, 1:03.19; 2. Bryce Dickerson, SA, 1:03.51; 3. Connor King, CV, 1:05.25
400 freestyle relay: 1. West Albany (Logan Smith, Gabe DeSimone, Zacary Plum, Austin Barton) 3:21.50; 2. Lebanon (Max Thompson, Darrin Breshears, Rylan Rogers, Wyatt Engler) 3:23.96; 3. Crescent Valley (Chad Seevers, Connor King, Galen McPherson, Alex Brookes) 3:26.38