MCMINNVILLE — The Titans had one event winner Saturday, but their depth crushed the rest of the competition.
Senior Alaina Otterstrom beat out a tough field to win the 100 butterfly in 59.27 Saturday in the finals of the Greater Valley Conference district swimming meet at McMinnville Aquatic Center.
But the overwhelming number of second and third place finishes added up to the district team championship.
It’s just a huge deal for us because I know that we all worked really hard for it,” Otterstrom said. “There was a lot of effort put in by everybody. Without the whole team I don’t think it would have happened.”
The Titans finished with 368 points, 28 more than second-place West Albany for their first district team championship since 2014 when they were in the Central Valley Conference.
It was known before the season that West Salem would be pretty good with swimmers like Hannah Bodkin, Otterstrom and Malia Masei returning, but the team got a critical influx of talent.
“We have three, four freshman girls that did really well, Erica Price, Kaylie Bliven and Llinnea Owen, and then Charis Duffus transferring from Sprague, that was huge. Hannah Whitlow didn’t swim this weekend, but she helped us win all of our dual meets.
“Alaina this year had an amazing year, won the 100 fly, did really well in the 200 free, was a major factor in both of the relays. A lot of best time, too, by a lot of the younger swimmers. Senior swimmers, Ayle Armstrong sticking with it and Miranda Davis sticking with it, not getting the senioritis kind of thing.”
Where the Titans had only one event winner, they had tons of second and third place finishers, including Bodkin placing second in the 200 IM and 100 breast.
“It means a lot, especially my senior year,” Bodkin said. “I know that Dan was really looking forward to this, and we were really set on making relays that are going to make it to state. It means a lot. It’s so exciting.”
Sprague freshman Alexis Smith won the 100 freestyle (55.46) and the 200 freestyle (2:01.27).
All event winners qualify for the Feb. 17-18 OSAA Class 6A state swimming meet at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
On the boys side of the meet, McMinnville won the district championship with 419 points with South Salem second with 366 points.
South Salem’s boys team of Daisuke Fitial, Paul Lomax, Christian Richey and Tyler Cook won the 200 free relay in 1:38.04.
Cook won the 100 free in 47.83, Fitial won the 200 IM in 1:57.55 and put on a furious charge at the end of the 100 back to win in 51.84, six seconds in front of the rest of the field.
“I just tried to bring it out really hard on the first 50, get a good tempo going,” Fitial said. “I didn’t want to use my legs too much because I would have been tired for the last half. I tried to save my legs for the last half of the race.
“On the last half, I tired to use my legs, pick up the tempo, and on the last length I tried to use my underwater as much as I could.”
West Salem senior Micah Masei narrowly won the 50 free in 21.22, but he pulled off a more extraordinary fete in the 100 breaststroke.
Sprague sophomore Ian Shultz led most of the race, but Masei closed at the finish and they finished with identical times of 58.41. They were given co-district championships.
“I couldn’t say I have,” said Masei, who was second in state in the 50 free last year. “I think a race win, I’ve never tied someone. To have it be one of your friends, it’s even more amazing.”
Sprague junior Colby Evenson dominated the 500 free, winning with a time of 4:52.66, over 10 seconds in front of the rest of the field.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler
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