By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary boys and girls swim teams competed in the Mountain Valley Conference District Meet on Friday, Feb 8. But due to unforeseen circumstances, this was no ordinary meet.
Originally, the schools were supposed to swim over the course of two days (Feb. 8 and Feb. 9) at Bend High School.
The weather, however, had other plans.
With snow covering the roads of the Santiam Pass, the Salem-Keizer School District announced on the morning of the event that all athletic trips over to Bend would be cancelled.
However, the SKSD, along with the rest on the MVC, was able to call an audible.
It was determined that the Salem-Keizer schools (McNary, McKay, Sprague, South Salem and West Salem) would swim a one-day meet at the Kroc Center while the Bend schools (Bend, Mountain View and Summit) would swim in a separate meet over the mountain.
Over the weekend, OSAA officials would calculate the times and determine which swimmers qualified for the state meet.
It was not an ideal scenario, but McNary head coach Casey Lewin was proud of the way his team dealt with the unique circumstances.
“I thought we handled the situation well, considering how much was unknown Friday morning,” Lewin said. “The week leading up to districts, we were focused on our races and doing what needed to be done, regardless of where we swam. Friday morning was stressful for everyone involved, but we cleared our heads and were ready to race.”
When it was all said and done, the Celtic girls placed fourth with 194.5 points and the McNary boys placed fifth with 220 points.
But even though there were some close calls, both McNary teams were unable to qualify a swimmer for the state meet.
“We were very close and just missed out on a couple relays and individuals,” Lewin said. “We did everything we needed to on our end with our swims and felt like we would be in good position to get some swims at the state meet.”
McNary’s biggest state hopefuls for the boys were Kyle Hooper and Harrison Vaughn. Unfortunately for the Celtics, both of them failed to swim up to their potential.
“Harrison and Kyle still held their own, but didn’t have their best swims,” Lewin said.
Hooper took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:09.00 and seventh in the 500-freestyle (5:13.05) — top two times qualify for state in most instances.
Vaughn, on the other hand, took eighth in the 100-breaststroke (1:06.35)
Both Hooper and Vaughn, along with Wyatt Sherwood and Jabez Rhoades, were less than two seconds away from earning a state spot in the 200-free relay, but had to settle for third place (1:36.51).
Rhoades was the only other McNary boy to earn a top-eight finish, taking sixth in the 50-free (23.97).
The McNary girls 200-medley relay team of Alex Beard, Bella Beard, Paris Boyd and Alyssa Garvey was also nearly able to nab a berth at the state meet. But even though they blew away the competition against the Salem schools, their time of 1:56.89 wasn’t enough as Bend and Mountain View’s relay teams came away with faster finishes.
Boyd came back shortly after the relay to swim her best time of the season in the 50-free (25.98), which was good enough for seventh place.
“Boyd had some huge splits in her relays, and her individual swims were also great. She was able to break (26 seconds) in the 50-free, which is great for a freshman,” Lewin said.
Alex Beard was the only girls swimmer for McNary to earn a pair of top-eight finishes as she placed sixth in both the 200-IM (2:19.97) and the 500-free (5:32.63).
Bella Beard had the highest individual placing out of all Celtic swimmers with her fifth-place finish in the 100-breast (1:11.66).
Despite not qualifying for state, there is a lot to build on for this McNary program going into next season as both teams ended the dual season with a 5-2 record.
Both squads also return the vast majority of their respective teams in 2019-20.
“Our season was very successful. A large team, a lot of raw, young, talent and strong leadership from our upperclassmen,” Lewin said. “I’m hoping we can take this and use it as motivation for next season. We’ll be back and even faster.”