By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The Salem Academy Boys Swim team did something unthinkable last season:
Bring home a District Trophy.
With names like Davis McHugh, Joel Westby and Wilson McLean, the Crusaders finished second in the Special District filled with 1A-4A teams en route to a fourth-place finish at the State Races a few months ago.
“We had a lot of people that weren’t expected to swim as they did and they just crushed it and just going into State, we carried all that hype into the meet,” said McLean, now a senior for Salem Academy. “We were just excited when we got there. We were determined to swim our best and getting up there and swimming through our races and doing so good, everyone was dropping a bunch of time and actually getting that fourth-place trophy and getting a trophy for Salem Academy boys team for the first time, oh man that was a crazy experience.
“That was a really happy moment for everyone on the boys team.”
McLean squeaked by Stayton’s Eric Seitz for a heat win in the 100-yard freestyle race with a 53.98 time as they won’t have that underdog-tag on them this year.
And why would they hope to have that again right with the tag? It’s more about the experience of getting there again this season.
“well, we lost two core swimmers with Davis and Joel, but me, Matt and Wyatt are the seniors this year and I’m so hype for all of us to see how we can do,” said McLean. “We’re coming into doubles in practices, swimming our hearts out in practices. We’re putting in all that extra work and I think it’s going to pay off comes towards Districts and State.”
Not to mention Caleb Warde who finished third in the 200-yard freestyle, fourth in the 100-yard freestyle, and was part of two relay teams that placed to add to the running list of returnees for the Crusaders.
On the girls side, as they finished 10th in State and returning Sarah Kenyon, Molly Gallagher and Trinity Pierce are some of the names returning to the squad this year as there’s some excitment building on the girls side as well.
“Our girls team looks really good, definitely more people than last year,” said Kenyon. “It’s going to be really, really fun.”
The junior helped the 400-yard freestyle relay team finish sixth last season as a sophomore and in Tuesday’s hosted meet at home, where she finished second in the 500-yard freestyle race, knows she could use it as a learning experience moving forward as Salem Academy wraps up the Salem Academy Christmas Invitational at the KROC Center.
“I can definitely do better, but that comes with practice. My pacing was all over the place, so I got to fix that and just work harder and move my arms faster,” laughed Kenyon as the next home meet for the Crusaders will be on January 15 at 2:15pm at the KROC Center.
As for hosting the invite, it’s always something special going up against some great competition.
“It’s nice, I mean I love all the teams here,” “I mean the kind of competition that comes out is great. I love swimming against Blanchet, I love swimming against Stayton. I just love the atmosphere with all of these teams.
“We’re all crowded in, we’re all mushed together. It’s atmosphere like no other and it’s not for everyone, but I really love it and I really enjoy it to the fullest.”