The West Albany High boys and girls swim teams are headed to this weekend's OSAA 5A state meet at Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton with some high expectations.
The Bulldogs have reason to be confident coming off a boys and girls sweep at Mid-Willamette Conference district meet this past Friday at Osborn Aquatic Center.
“Districts were huge for us,” West head coach Babette Romancier said. “To place first in girls and boys, we didn’t expect that. We knew the competition was strong, so for us to win was a really big thing for us.”
After spending the previous four seasons at the 6A level, the Bulldogs were moved back down to 5A this season, a move that has greatly benefited the team. Romancier said that from a numbers standpoint, it made more sense to be at the 5A level as it allowed the Bulldogs to have more swimmers compete deeper in the postseason.
Looking ahead to this weekend's state meet, which begins with the prelims at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, the Bulldogs will send a healthy dose of swimmers from both the boys and girls teams.
The top six finishers in Friday's prelims will advance to the championship finals on Saturday. That meet starts at 1 p.m.
The boys are seeded first in the 200 free relay, second in the 200 medley relay and fourth in the 400 free relay.
“The boys relays are really strong,” Romancier said. “They’re going into state second and relays score double what individuals do. I still see room for improvement, but we’re really excited to see what our relay teams can do in state.”
Kieran Van Horsen is seeded second in the 200 free and third in the 100 free; Eric Formiller is fifth in the 50 free and ninth in the 100 free; and Braxton Reece fifth in both the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly.
“I never like to think how much faster the guy in front of me is because I always go into every meet with the mindset that I’m going to do the best I can,” Van Horsen said. “As a team, we’ve got a shot at state this year because we’ve got a good chance of winning multiple events. We’re gunning for a state championship this season.”
Dylan Hayes is seeded second in the 500 free; Luke Milburn eighth in the 200 free; Colby Huddleston 10th in the 100 breast; and Gabe Ayala ninth and Hayes 10th in the 100 back.
The girls are seeded second in the 200 free relay, third in the 200 medley relay and fifth in the 400 free relay.
Bailey Dickerson is seeded first in the 50 free; Allie Bates fourth in the 200 IM; Olivia Friedel eighth in the 200 IM; and Isabel Vetter 11th in the 100 fly.
Dickerson, who is one of the few swimmers on the squad to have competed before at state individually, has earned high praise from her coach as she’s stepped up as a leader for the team.
“She’s a team player,” Romancier said. “She’s very positive and upbeat with the girls. As she’s matured she’s learned to get out of her head and just have fun. The girls really follow her lead.”
Added Dickerson: “I’m really excited for state because it’s one of the first years where we can win state. Being at the 6A level really helped us competition wise. We want to show that we’re back and ready than ever to compete.”
Taylor Kelley is seeded fourth in the 100 free and seventh in the 50 free and Natalie Bass is fifth in the 100 breast and sixth in the 200 IM.
“My goal to the team is, ‘Let’s go do something,’” Romancier said. “We haven’t had the opportunity in 6A because we were just lucky to be at state. Now we’re in a situation where we can actually do something in state.”