HOOD RIVER – Seniors McKenna Bailey and Jaeden Biehn feel it in their hearts that The Dalles swim team could be a thorn in the sides of the rest of the Intermountain Conference.
The Riverhawks racked up 38 personal records, had a couple of swimmers just get edged out of wild card contention and the girls team placed third for their best finish in recent memory at the IMC District Championships held Friday at the Hood River Aquatic Center.
“We have so many younger kids here that want to work harder and get the team back to state,” Bailey said. “They are all determined, and they made it a point to come to practice ready to compete. I think it showed in how well we did in our meets and the personal records we set. They are some kids that will be contenders soon.”
The Dalles varsity girls posted eight top-7 finishes, led by Kendall Webber, who had a pair of runner-up finishes in her two main events, the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle.
Webber, a freshman, narrowly missed out on a 200-yard freestyle victory with a final time of two minutes and 13.86 seconds, wining up 1.02 seconds behind Pendleton senior Landry Huth (2:12.84).
In the 500, Webber timed out in 6:07.31, which a shade less than 10 seconds behind Pendleton’s Kyndra Nelson (5:57.97).
While competing against more than 80 swimmers in each race, Webber was ranked 14th in the 5A ranks.
“Kendall has done an amazing job as a freshman,” TD head coach Derek Shortt said. “I know the goals she has in mind and there is nothing going to stop her from achieving those. She has a bright future ahead of her. This is just her first step.”
Webber joined forces with Biehn, Bailey and Bree Webber in the 200-yard freestyle relay, where they finished third in 1:59.74, nine seconds behind Pendleton (1:50.50) and 4.61 behind HRV (1:55.13).
Also on the relay front, the girls 400-yard freestyle group of Lydia Evans, Hanna Rodriguez, Maddie Larson and Hannah Haight had a final run of 4:59.10 to score third place, just off the pace set by Hood River (3:58.61) and Pendleton (4:20.66).
Haight tacked on fifth place in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:23.39), Bree Webber added a fifth-place output in the 100-yard freestyle (1:05.65) and was sixth-best in the 50-yard freestyle (28.82) for her best finishes.
Overall, Webber was in the top 10 percent of her 5A opponents in the 50-yard freestyle.
Evans turned in a mark of 1:20.62 to secure seventh place in the 100-yard backstroke, and Biehn was ninth in the 50-yard freestyle (30.13) and 10th in the 100-yard freestyle (1:10.55).
“I had a fun year with this team,” Biehn said. “The team did great things and the coaches were a great help to all of us. I am really going to miss being around them. The best thing about this team is we all challenged each other to get better every time we swam. There’s nothing better than having teammates that will bring the best out of you.”
Hood River Valley tallied 134 points to pick up first place and Pendleton was second with 119 points.
The Dalles (40), Ridgeview (32) and Redmond (29) made up the rest of the standings.
The Riverhawk boys were led by Will Evans, who notched third place in the 50-yard freestyle (25.04) and reached fourth place in the 200-yard freestyle with a final mark of 2:06.90, just .01 behind the third-place finisher, Pendleton’s Tyler Spratling (2:06.89).
That time gave the junior hopes of sneaking into state as a wild card, but with one more year of eligibility, he could make that jump next winter.
“We only lose one of our boys (Sven Deruette), so I think they have the potential to get even better over the summer and into next season,” coach Shortt said. “Will is going to be one of our leaders and one of our better swimmers and I know he is very capable of getting his times even lower as he keeps working at it.”
The boys 400-yard freestyle relay team of Xander Kirby, Jonathan Snodgrass, Grant Loughmiller and Will Evans scored fourth place with their 4:33.63, just a minute behind the top of the field.
Jacob Comini, Bryce Harris, Sven Deruette and Connor Stewart timed out 2:13.68 to take fifth place in the 200-yard medley relay, and in the 200-yard freestyle relay, Harris, Comini, Stewart and Will Evans added a final rush of 1:51.87 to secure fifth place.
Loughmiller tallied fifth place in the 500-yard freestyle (7:20.18), finishing ahead of teammates Comini (7:39.84) and Snodgrass (7:47.33).
Harris was seventh in the 100-yard freestyle (57.90) and 10th in the 50-yard freestyle (27.07) and Comini placed ninth in the 100-yard backstroke (1:27.86).
Redmond (101), Pendleton (99), Hood river Valley (67), Ridgeview (51) and The Dalles (32) represented the final boys standings.
In junior varsity races, Shea McAllister enjoyed the girls’ best finish of second place with her final rally of 1:10.99.
Moira Navarrete was third-best in the 100-yard individual medley (1:52.15), Kylan McCavic claimed fourth in the 50-yard breaststroke (56.42) and Frances Fuller had a time of 1:33.71 to take home 14th place.
“For myself, Pat (Shortt) and Nate (Timmons), we enjoyed coaching these kids,” Derek Shortt said. “Our goal was to bring a certain mindset to this team and the kids bought into it. The future is bright with this swimming program and I know the kids are looking forward to giving themselves an opportunity to get to state.”