Depending on the point of view, the breaststroke and butterfly are often cited as the most difficult strokes to master in competitive swimming.
"I think the breaststroke is the most unique because there's so many weird resistances," Philomath High School coach Marissa Eng said following her team's performance in the 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 3 meet. "I think the butterfly has a bad rep because you do have to be strong to swim it, but the breaststroke is kind of in a league of its own."
Senior Tristan Pindell was in a league of his own at Friday’s meet at South Albany High’s pool, a performance that Eng described as “beautiful.” Pindell won the 100-yard breaststroke by 2 seconds over his nearest competitor to automatically punch his ticket to this week’s state championships.
"Because the stroke is so much resistance, you don't have the above-water recovery, but the underwater recovery," Eng said. "It's just a unique stroke and you can have a kid that has one part but not the other and still does well. ... Tristan and Amity (Coon) are just natural breaststrokers."
Pindell touched the wall with a personal-best time of 1:05.72 in the event and goes to state as a No. 5 seed. Eng was impressed that Pindell was able “to step up and race and win his signature event his senior year."
Coon, also a senior, qualified in one of the at-large spots for the breaststroke with her time of 1:11.71, which was good for second at the district meet and the No. 6 seed for state.
In all, Philomath qualified in six individual events and four relays for the state meet, which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton.
Besides Pindell and Coon in those breaststroke events, senior James Dye qualified in both the 100 and 200 freestyle. Dye won the 200 free in 1:54.43 and finished second in the 100 free in 50.34 but got to state with an at-large spot.
With Dye's swimming ability in just about any event, Eng had options on where to put him in the lineup. Last season, Dye qualified and placed third in the state with his performance in the 500 freestyle. And in the 100 butterfly, he placed third as a sophomore and fourth as a junior.
But on Friday, Dye competed in those freestyle events along with two relays. Was it a difficult decision?
"That was a conversation that I had with James," Eng said. "It's not that he's not capable with the 500, he's very capable. I was just looking overall at the relays and to go a fast 500 and then get very little rest time for an amazing 50 free with a relay? My goal was to get the relay to state, too."
Dye qualified for the 200 freestyle during his freshman and sophomore seasons, placing fourth on his second trip. He's the lone athlete on the team to have now qualified all four years.
“James has been the only swimmer that's made it to Day 2 (at state) for a number of years now and our goal was to have multiple kids try to make it to Day 2," Eng said.
Pindell qualified in a second event with his time in the 50 freestyle, which was the seventh-best in the state. Sophomore Eli McLennan also made it in as an individual with his time in the 100 backstroke.
The boys' 200 medley relay qualified in an at-large spot with a time of 1:49.77, which got the Warriors second. Swimming legs on the relay at districts were sophomore Eli McLennan, Pindell, Dye and senior Brandon Enghauser. Senior Jeremy Schaffer and sophomore Caleb Matthews are alternates for state in the event.
Another boys relay, the 200 freestyle, got into state as a No. 7 seed. Schaffer, Enghauser, Pindell and Dye swam the event at districts and had a time of 1:38.54 for third. Alternates for state are listed as McLennan and Matthews.
Two relays for the girls qualified with at-large spots. The 200 medley relay with sophomore Melia Morton, Coon, junior Maggie Ross and junior Hannah Hernandez made it with the 2:03.43 they swam at districts. The state entry lists sophomore Audrey Davis and senior Kena Bacho as alternates.
The 200 freestyle relay also heads to state after swimming a 1:51.03 at districts with Hernandez, Morton, Coon and Ross. Bacho and Davis are listed as alternates.
Among Philomath athletes that just barely missed qualifying individually was Ross. In the 50 freestyle, Ross came in with a time of 26.39, third in the district and five-hundredths of a second out of the state’s top 12 that qualified.
"Overall, every kid on the Philomath High swim team is just one of a kind," Eng said. "It's fantastic to see them have such an amazing end to the season."
With a threatening weather forecast for last Saturday, officials decided to shorten the meet to just one day with no preliminaries and straight to finals. Eng said she knew that could end up being a possibility and she prepared her team accordingly.
"I coach with transparency so I had prewarned them and communicated to them the weather situation. We were all very aware of it, that we might only get to swim on one day," Eng said. "We practiced how that would be, so I think they were really prepared for either scenario and they did a fantastic job."
Eng said it's the first time she's seen the district meet cut out prelims.
"That amount of discussion and trying to figure out what was equitable, how to fairly run something to give everybody a chance, it was definitely unknown territory for everybody in the district and throughout the state," Eng said. "In the grand scheme of things, a high school meet as important as it is, is not nearly as important as if someone got hurt. That's the risk and it's not worth it."
Philomath High's boys pushed Salem Academy to the end in the team race. Salem Academy ended up edging the Warriors by just eight points for the district team title.
"For being the smallest team that I've had for the boys, they all stepped up and did a great job," Eng said. "It's a group effort and I was really happy with how the kids got up and raced."
In the girls' portion of the meet, Sweet Home won by a fair margin over Salem Academy with Philomath fifth in the 11-school field.
Eng said district meets are always a great test of stamina.
"Sometimes, it's who's tougher, especially at the end of the meet when you're tired," she said. "How you perform at the end of the meet is reflective of the work that you put in during the season."
Eng called her senior class an exceptional group that has worked hard.
"They have their own personalities but they are great leaders with a work ethic," Eng said. "They have all done a lot of great work and I'm excited for those who get to swim next year."
For the head coach, the girls' 500 freestyle represented what she loves about the sport. Davis was Philomath's top performer in the marathon event with a time of 6:31.29 for seventh with Hernandez right behind her with a 6:34.05 for eighth.
"The cool part of that was they were so excited for each other," Eng said. "They train each other and make each other faster. They do genuinely celebrate each other's success."
4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 3
Friday at Albany
Team scoring: Salem Academy (SA) 203, Philomath (PHS) 195, North Marion (NM) 173, Marist Catholic (MC) 168, Blanchet Catholic (BC) 163, Stayton (STY) 114, Sweet Home (SH) 92, Sisters (SIS) 58, Cascade (CAS) 39, Kennedy (KEN) 35, Junction City (JC) 26.
Winners & PHS Results
200 medley relay: 1, Salem Academy (Austyn Shelton, Caleb Warde, Elijah Leutwyler, TJ Lee), 1:46.02; 2, Philomath (Eli McLennan, Tristan Pindell, James Dye, Brandon Enghauser), 1:49.77; 11, Philomath B (Judah Bacho, Chris Melton, Biwa Tomono-Duval, Cameron Latz), 2:19.88.
200 freestyle: 1, James Dye, PHS, 1:54.43; 7, Brandon Enghauser, PHS, 2:11.30; 19, Cameron Latz, PHS, 2:41.66.
200 individual medley: 1, Paul Hegney, BC, 2:14.00; 6, Brennan Provance, PHS, 2:41.54; 9, Judah Bacho, PHS, 3:02.39; 12, Biwa Tomono-Duval, PHS, 3:09.34.
50 freestyle: 1, Chris Allender, MC, 22.83; 2, Tristan Pindell, PHS, 23.57; 11, Jeremy Schaffer, PHS, 25.52.
100 butterfly: 1, Elijah Leutwyler, SA, 57.23; 7, Eli McLennan, PHS, 1:13.24.
100 freestyle: 1, Caleb Warde, SA, 49.04; 2, James Dye, PHS, 50.34; 11, Jeremy Schaffer, PHS, 58.18; 20, Caleb Matthews, PHS, 1:01.85; 40, Cameron Latz, PHS, 1:14.50.
500 freestyle: 1, Jacob Miller, KEN, 5:19.59; 5, Brandon Enghauser, PHS, 5:53.27.
200 freestyle relay: 1, Salem Academy (Caleb Warde, Nathan Witters, Elijah Leutwyler, Austyn Shelton), 1:35.41; 3, Philomath (Jeremy Schaffer, Brandon Enghauser, Tristan Pindell, James Dye), 1:38.54; 9, Philomath (Chris Melton, Judah Bacho, Caleb Matthews, Brennan Provance), 1:52.56.
100 backstroke: 1, Austyn Shelton, SA, 58.38; 2, Eli McLennan, PHS, 1:05.92; 6, Brennan Provance, PHS, 1:16.11; 8, Caleb Matthews, PHS, 1:16.80.
100 breaststroke: 1, Tristan Pindell, PHS, 1:05.72; 17, Chris Melton, PHS, 1:26.63; 18, Judah Bacho, PHS, 1:26.89; 19, Biwa Tomono-Duval, PHS, 1:27.13.
400 freestyle relay: 1, Salem Academy (Austyn Shelton, TJ Lee, Elijah Leutwyler, Caleb Warde), 3:31.34; 6, Philomath (Caleb Matthews, Brennan Provance, Jeremy Schaffer, Eli McLennan), 3:59.44.
Team scoring: Sweet Home (SH) 257, Salem Academy (SA) 195, Marist Catholic (MC) 168, Sisters (SIS) 144, Philomath (PHS) 131, Stayton (STY) 107, Blanchet Catholic (BC) 98, Cascade (CAS) 92, Junction City (JC) 48, North Marion (NM) 26, Kennedy (KEN) 6.
Winners & PHS Results
200 medley relay: 1, Sweet Home (Jamie Seward, Malia Hewitt, Megan Hager, Ella Parker), 1:56.65; 4, Philomath (Melia Morton, Amity Coon, Maggie Ross, Hannah Hernandez), 2:03.43; 9, Philomath B (Abby Rutledge, Kaeleigh Houchin, Kena Bacho, Audrey Davis), 2:23.62.
200 freestyle: 1, Lydia Bartlett, SIS, 1:58.89; 11, Hannah Hernandez, PHS, 2:25.07; 13, Audrey Davis, PHS, 2:28.89; 21, Kaeleigh Houchin, PHS, 2:42.91; 24, Abby Rutledge, PHS, 2:49.94.
200 individual medley: 1, Malia Hewitt, SH, 2:17.08; 7, Amity Coon, SH, 2:38.79; 18, Vivian Pastor-Infantes, PHS, 3:09.14.
50 freestyle: 1, Lauren Barry, MC, 24.90; 3, Maggie Ross, PHS, 26.39; 21, Ophelia Katsikis, PHS, 32.99; 29, Jenna Schoepflin, PHS, 34.84; T-50, Hailey Matthews, PHS, 43.28.
100 butterfly: 1, Meredith Mandal, SIS, 1:03.52; 7, Melia Morton, PHS, 1:13.59; 10, Kena Bacho, PHS, 1:20.39; 18, Vivian Pastor-Infantes, PHS, 1:35.40.
100 freestyle: 1, Lauren Barry, MC, 54.22; 7, Maggie Ross, PHS, 59.95; 33, Jenna Schoepflin, PHS, 1:23.22.
500 freestyle: 1, Eulena Banzer, SA, 5:15.21; 7, Audrey Davis, PHS, 6:31.29; 8, Hannah Hernandez, PHS, 6:34.05.
200 freestyle relay: 1, Sweet Home (Chloe Tyler, Torree Hawken, Sarah Hewitt, Megan Hager), 1:45.59; 4, Philomath (Hannah Hernandez, Melia Morton, Amity Coon, Maggie Ross), 1:51.03; 13, Philomath B (Vivian Pastor-Infantes, Ellie Leslie, Jenna Schoepflin, Ophelia Katsikis), 2:18.41.
100 backstroke: 1, Eulena Banzer, SA, 1:01.11; 7, Melia Morton, PHS, 1:11.66; 12, Kena Bacho, PHS, 1:20.24; 13, Abby Rutledge, PHS, 1:21.04; 16, Ophelia Katsikis, PHS, 1:23.98; 29, Ellie Leslie, PHS, 1:47.08.
100 breaststroke: 1, Malia Hewitt, SH, 1:09.72; 2, Amity Coon, PHS, 1:11.71; 11, Kaeleigh Houchin, PHS, 1:28.67.
400 freestyle relay: 1, Sweet Home (Chloe Tyler, Jamie Seward, Sarah Hewitt, Malia Hewitt), 3:49.57; 8, Philomath (Abby Rutledge, Kaeleigh Houchin, Audrey Davis, Kena Bacho), 4:44.68; 13, Philomath B (Jenna Schoepflin, Ellie Leslie, Vivian Pastor-Infantes, Ophelia Katsikis), 5:19.12.