By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

McMinnville swimming survives state preliminary rounds

GRESHAM -- McMinnville swimming is once again poised to add another state trophy of some undetermined hue to its case.

All three of the Grizzlies' boys relay teams handily qualified for finals and senior Giovanni Mariotti posted the second-best time in the boys' 100-yard backstroke Friday at the OSAA Class 6A State Swimming Championships preliminary rounds, held at Mt. Hood Community College.

Mariotti, an exchange student from Italy who specializes in the backstroke, covered the 100 yards in his preliminary heat in 51.85 seconds, edging out Beaverton's Van Mathias (51.91) for the early victory. Mariotti's time ranks behind only that of Jesuit senior Sean Calkins (51.23) entering Saturday's final.

Mariotti and Grizzlies sophomore Levi Burres both made the finals in the boys' 200-yard individual medley; Mariotti's preliminary time of 1:57.74 is fifth-best, while Burres' 2:01.59 is 10th-best. Senior Max Hayes finished ninth among all competitors in the boys' 100-meter breaststroke (1:00.63) and sophomore Garrett Sutton clocked 22.46 in the boys' 50-yard freestyle for 10th place, also qualifying for Saturday's action as individuals.

As they have all year, though, the McMinnville boys earned their keep in the relays.

Mariotti, Hayes, Burres and Sutton opened Friday's action with a 1:37.19 performance in the boys' 200-yard medley relay, winning their heat -- only Jesuit's 1:36.21 was better on the day. Sutton, Hayes, senior Sam Swenson and sophomore Hunter Harris earned an inside lane in the boys' 200-meter freestyle relay, clocking 1:30.25. The Grizzlies' 400-meter freestyle relay team of Sutton, Mariotti, Harris and Burres closed out the evening with a performance (3:19.28) one second better than Mac's seeded time and good for seventh place.

The McMinnville girls will be represented individually by senior Molli Hartzell, who clocked 25.03 in the girls' 50-meter freestyle, the ninth-best time of Friday's preliminaries. Hartzell's 59.76-second time in the girls' 100-yard backstroke was good for 11th place, adding another finals appearance to her tally.

The Grizzlies' 200-meter freestyle relay team of junior Sydney Stern, Hartzell, sophomore Kalina Buhler and junior Rosie Porter snuck into Saturday's final by seizing the 12th and final spot with a preliminary time of 1:43.78. 

Other McMinnville swimmers participating in state preliminaries include: Harris, boys' 200-yard freestyle (16th, 1:49.63); Porter, girls' 50-yard freestyle (18th, 26.41) and girls' 100-yard butterfly (17th, 1:03.28); Nate Blackwell-Mitchell, boys' 100-yard butterfly (16th, 54.96) ; Porter, Hartzell, Chloe Zinda and Jessica Noyes, girls' 400-yard freestyle relay (14th, 3:48.16); and Zinda, Noyes, Emilee Hessel and Buhler (18th, 2:01.14).