By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Grizzlies finish out in style on Senior Night

Marcus Larson/News-Register
McMinnville swimmer Graham Shaw makes is way through a tunnel fomred by his teammates Thursday as part of Senior Night at the last regular season home meet vs. Century for Mac.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
McMinnville swimmer Graham Shaw makes is way through a tunnel fomred by his teammates Thursday as part of Senior Night at the last regular season home meet vs. Century for Mac.

Those standards pushed the Grizzlies to blow out Century in their final dual meet of the season Thursday at the McMinnville Aquatic Center.

An impressive feat considering the team spent all day finishing rigorous finals.

“We had finals today,” Mac relay and freestyle swimmer Jacob Porter said. “Then we got here a little late, did a long warm-up with our underwater dolphin kicks.”

The Mac boys won 135-35 to finish the season undefeated, and they did it behind two of their team leaders. The Grizzlies host the Pacific Conference district championships Friday and Saturday. Action Friday starts at 12:30 p.m. The finals are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Porter and friend and teammate Tristan Versteeg are leaders on the blocks and in the water for Mac. With few seniors left on the roster, the torch is clearly in the hands of Porter and Versteeg heading into districts and next season.

“Jacob’s probably going to be the captain next year,” Mac coach Jason Hafner said. “Both of those guys know what to do in the water, and will make good senior leaders.”

It was their freshman year at Mac when the bond between Porter and Versteeg formed.

“After going through the lessons and Dolphin program here, the next step was swim team,” Porter said. “So I joined, met this guy (Versteeg), we started racing, made state within the first year, and we’ve just never quit competing.”

The two were rarely seen apart outside of the water Thursday, often talking and comparing notes on the races they just swam. Porter started his night in the 200-yard freestyle relay, but the team didn’t place. Porter responded by winning his next race, the 100 freestyle with a time of 49 seconds.

Porter and teammate Sam Swenson led their team to second in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:40.67. Porter’s team responded in the final event of the night by winning the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:32.52.

“I got in the water and felt pretty good,” Porter said. “I felt relaxed, strong, and it all comes back to our dolphin kicks and underwater work that helps.”

Versteeg’s journey is a little different. He said at a young age, because of his smaller size, he didn’t even like the water, and really wanted no part of it, but he said one day he decided to suck it up and take lessons.

“Because it’s just a good thing to do,” Versteeg said. “I never liked it until I got to the team so I could get a little better. It was the competition that sucked me in, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Century’s competition was no match Thursday for Versteeg.

His team took first place in their first event, the 200 relay with a time of 1:48.62, just in front of friend and teammate Porter. He followed that up with a first place finish in the 50 freestyle, but his team struggled, finishing fourth in the 200 freestyle relay. Versteeg’s team also responded well in the 400 freestyle relay finishing second, again, behind Porter’s team with a time of 3:42.70.

Though Versteeg had a good day statistically, the competitor in him was far from satisfied.

“Personally, I didn’t have my best day,” Versteeg said. “But we are just starting tapering, so I’ve been working really hard and my muscles are really tired. But with how tired I am and how hard I’ve trained, it didn’t go too bad.

With an undefeated season under its belt, Mac now prepares for districts: The Grizzlies’ second season. Rosters for districts were due Friday. Mac knows what lies ahead will be anything but easy.

“Both teams look solid going into districts,” Hafner said. “Probably Forrest Grove and Newberg will be the two teams challenging us, but I think our depth will carry us past that challenge.”


Mac girls cruise

Erika Sato was an unstoppable force in the Grizzlies’ 116-54 win over Century. With the win, the Mac girls finish the season with one loss and finish second in the Pacific Conference behind Tualatin heading into districts.

Sato had arguably the best swim meet of her career. She finished with four first-place finishes, while two of her teammates finished with lifetime bests.

“Erika had a really good day,” Mac coach Jason Hafner said. “Everyone did well. We had some girls set some new bests and it just got everyone going.”

Sato started her meet in the 200-yard individual medley, where she finished first with a time of 2 minutes, 28 seconds. Nine seconds in front of teammate and second-place finisher Dakota Buhler.

Four races later, Sato was right back to it in the 500 freestyle. Once again, she finished quite a ways ahead of the competition with a time of 5:47.53 for her second, first place finish.

“It felt good,” Sato said. “I’m really excited to see what I can do at districts once I’m tapered and really ready to go.”

Sato’s third race of the day was the 200 freestyle relay and her team with Buhler, Rebekah Wood, and Chloe Zinda finished first at 1:50.29, while Mac’s lone senior girl, Molli Hartzell’s team, finished right behind for second at 1:51.66.

Sato achieved her final first-place finish with teammates Hartzell, Wood, and Madison Ranche in the 400 freestyle relay.

Sato attributes the win and solid finish to the season to the team peaking at the right time.

Sato’s day was contagious and carried over to teammates.

Kellie Gonzales finished fourth in the 200 freestyle. Her time of 2:18.23 was a lifetime best. Hartzell finished first in the 100 butterfly, and she also set a lifetime best in 1:04.82.

“Saw a lot of good things today,” Hafner said. “To have girls do these things going into districts is big. It gives them individual momentum, and it momentum as a team and that’s what you want.”

Hartzell wasn’t the only one to set a best mark in the 100 butterfly. Buhler did as well. She was fourth, but broke her best by five seconds with a time of 1:10.09.

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