By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.–This could be the year. The year in which the Salem Academy boys swim team could steal the District Title from powerhouse Sweet Home.
Yeah the Huskies still have weapons to possibly keep that title from leaving their grasp, but as the Crusaders honored 14 seniors on their ‘Pink Out’ Meet at the Albany Community Pool Saturday morning, they too have weapons to compete as they have in years past.
When the two teams swam earlier this season, Salem Academy took the match over Sweet Home, but with Districts coming up here in two weeks in Albany, anything will be possible.
“We’re hoping for a win, we’re always hoping for a win and we’re happy with what we do but it’ll be awesome if we could get that District Championship this year. They’re on the right track for it, they’re working super hard. We’re going to have a good taper and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Head Coach Maria Robertson.
Caleb Warde is one of the big-name returners for the Crusaders, sophomore Austin Shelton has stepped up to fill some of those big-time roles left by last year’s seniors that featured Wilson McLean. Nathan Witters, TJ Leach, Elijah Leutwyler have also continued to improve through the season with Leutwyler being one of the other veteran swimmers for Salem Academy pointed Robertson.
“As far as our whole Varsity boys’ team, just has a really good chance of making Top 12 in Districts across the board. All of them,” said Robertson of the guys team. “I wouldn’t be surprise if every, single one of those boys made it to the Top 12. Which is what you’ll need to get those points.”
On the girl’s side, coming off of their second-place finish in Districts in 2018 for the third-straight year has seen Eulea Banzer returned to the team this year. Robertson isn’t sure where Banzer will race in come the District Meet, but is expecting the Senior to do well with how she has been performing this season.
Trinity Pierce, who won two District Titles last season is returning. Western Christian’s Raquel Druery has improved her times this season. Sarah Kenyon returns as well. Hannah Warde, Angie Halleday, Kendall Hinson are right on the edge for the Salem Academy girls squad as they enter their ‘tune-up’ meet on Monday against Philomath at 3:30pm.
With two weeks until the District Meet in Albany, the mental work will take center stage as they prepare their minds and bodies for the two-day Meet.
“We do a lot of mental prep, really knowing what to expect in ourselves and how to show up for a race and what we need to do,” said Robertson. “Sleeping a lot, resting and relying on our training from the last three months to take us where we need to go. It’s fun, they enjoy it.”