Contributed photo/Amy Webber
The Dalles medley relay team of, pictured from left to right, Lydia Evans, Brianna Webber, Jaeden Biehn and Natalie Varland came together for second place in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:16.99.
HOOD RIVER – If The Dalles swim team was going to give itself a chance to do some damage and have several athletes make the big jump to the state meet, all systems needed to be firing on all cylinders.
Unfortunately, head coach Shea MacNab had to do some last-minute re-shuffling to his roster due to three varsity swimmers knocked out of action with illness issues and, because of that, two relays were scratched, and the group missed out on between four-to-six finals swims at last weekend’s Columbia River Conference District Swim Meet at the Hood River Aquatic Center in Hood River.
Nonetheless, the Riverhawks posted 10 top-5 finishes, Natalie Varland had a second and a third, Will Evans chalked up fourth, and three relays placed third or better.
“The rest of the team stepped up and adapted to the last-minute changes,” MacNab said. “They all swam as one united group and it took a team effort this year to get as many swimmers to the finals as possible.”
Varland swam a season-best in her 100-yard breaststroke, finishing second in the finals with her marker of one minute and 15.22 seconds, less than three seconds behind Pendleton’s Landry Huth (1:12.92).
The junior standout also scored third-place honors in the 200-yard individual medley, where she touched the wall in 2:37.28, a four-second improvement on her best high school time.
Aside from her individual accolades, Varland joined up with Jaeden Biehn, McKenna Bailey and Lydia Evans in a revamped group that put up a second-place output in the 200-yard medley relay (2:16.99) and tacked on a third-place marker of 1:59.88 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
The boys’ relay squad of Caleb Miller, Adrian Castellanos, Will Evans and Peter Cardosi posted a final mark of 1:52.75 to claim third place in the 200-yard freestyle event, as Cardosi put it in overdrive to rally the team to third place.
Miller, Evans, Cardosi and Jonathan Snodgrass kicked into high gear for fourth place in the 400-yard freestyle relay event with a time of 4:16.78, 2.1 seconds in back of third-place Hermiston.
Evans, who churned out the fastest leg in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a 50-yard split of 25.61, not only fared well on the relay front, in what was his best-career performance, but he had some top numbers in his individual events.
The sophomore locked down fourth place with a time of 2:26.35 in the 200-yard freestyle, an eight-second improvement.
He also took off 6.5 seconds in his 100-yard breastroke time, just missing out on a finals berth with a 1:34.19.
Snodgrass dropped a whopping 30 seconds in his 500-yard freestyle with a finals mark of 8:26.43 to secure fifth place and Castellanos swam a 500-yard freestyle for the first time and placed sixth in finals, hitting his stride for a 9:39.27.
Cardosi wrapped up his swimming career with an impressive fifth-place outcome in the 50-yard freestyle, timing out in 25.11, less than a half a second from second place. The senior notched a final tally of 59.06 to get sixth place in the 100-yard freestyle.
Miller dropped two seconds in his 50-yard freestyle time with a 27.35 and shaved down three seconds in his 100-yard freestyle event at 1:01.69.
Individually for the girls, Webber qualified for finals in the 50-yard freestyle with a lifetime-best time of 28.59, finishing fifth in the finals.
Hanna Rodrieguez had another solid meet with a four-second drop in her 200-yard freestyle, where she put out a time of 3:17.23, and Kylan McCavic added a six-second drop in the 100-yard freestyle event with her marker of 1:28.77.
Sharon Mann also dropped 3.5 seconds in her 200-yard freestyle, taking 1 3:36.76 for 14th place and cut more than six seconds in her 100-yard freestyle swim with a 1:34.54.
“I was really proud of the kids and how they all raced,” MacNab said. “Districts is a high-pressure meet and I could not be more impressed with all of our swimmers.”
The long-time coach added that he has so much more respect for the swimmers, because they wake up at 5 a.m. two times a week and practice until 8:30 p.m. another two-times-a-week and add several hours in vehicles traveling to meets on Saturdays.
“It’s really a six-day-a-week sport when we get into the heart of the season and the kids sacrifice a lot to compete,” MacNab said. “In order to keep a team together, they all have to push, support and challenge one another. The camaraderie it takes to keep a team together with such a challenging schedule is what makes our sport so special.”