By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Knowing with the restrictions and the challenges ahead, Stayton Head Coach Curtis Brown knew of the challenges ahead with his team.
The girls were without swimming workhorse Sydney Maurer, who graduated after last season; but had turned to two incoming freshmen that made a splash as they finished second as a squad at the District Meet. Finishing behind District Champion and 4A/3A/2A/1A powerhouse Sweet Home.
“With the COVID – 19 restriction that all the teams this year had to deal with and the short season the girls just picked up from last year. Their swim times were off a little from last season but responded well to the way I ran their workouts,” Brown said. “I had to change the way I trained them so I didn’t hurt them by starting so fast but I had to get them up to speed quickly by pushing them faster than normal.
“With the loss of Sydney Maurer last year I had two new freshmen that came and helped the team out right away. I knew the Girls were good but they really shocked me how we swam at Districts by finishing 2nd just behind Sweet Home, which is one of the best teams in the State for years.”
The Eagles had qualified Kylie Mannix, Avery Mannix, Caitlyn Martinak, Ashley Rea, Liberty Wiseman and Bethany Wagar for the State Meet. Brown had sat the six swimmers down and told them he believed that they were capable of bringing home a trophy.
Hundred-plus degree heat didn’t slow down the squad as the Girls 200-yard medley relay took seventh, the Girls 200-yard freestyle relay took second-place, the 400 yard freestyle relay finished third.
Kylie Mannix set the school-records in the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.84) and the 500-yard freestyle (5:31.53) while finishing second both events respectively.
“Kylie Mannix high dedication and Sacrifice to this sport that she loves says everything about her character as a person and as a swimmer. She is dedicated to her team mates and pushes them as the team Captain to motivate her swim mates to always do your best. That’s why in her senior year she made history as the first swimmer to place above third place at State,” Brown starts of Mannix. “She placed second in State in the 200-yard Freestyle and then placed second in State in the 500-yard Freestyle and set new school records in both events. Then she help her team finish second at state in the 200-yard Freestyle Relay and third in the 400-yard Freestyle Relay making her the highest scoring Female in Stayton history,”
“Every girl went there and swam their hearts out and swam personal best times and relays had faster times then District swims. Their desire to win is what makes this group of Girls so special to me and this team. I could talk all day about this girl’s team because they are just a great group of kids to Coach. I hope this is what you were looking for about the girls team.”
The girls finished third, bringing home just the first of three State trophies for the squad. The boys finished sixth with four swimmers in Tanner Fixsen, Mason Luna, Caleb Brown and Parker Dirkx. Drikx swam the 200-yard freestyle in 23.38 for third-place and was fifth in the 100-yard freestyle with a 51.65 time, both also school records. The 500-yard freestyle time broke a school record that stood for 15-years prior to Drikx breaking it.
The quartet combination of Fixsen, Luna, Brown and Dirkx were part of the 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relays that both finished eighth-, and fifth respectively.
To cap it all, Fixsen became the first Eagle swimmer to win an individual State Championship. Winning the 200-yard freestyle in record-breaking pace at 1:51.84 before adding a 500-yard freestyle to his resume. Wrapping up his Senior career strongly.
Having known Fixsen since first-grade through his son Caleb Brown, he remembers that six-foot-tall, 130-pound kid who never swam competitively entering his freshman year. But Brown remembers how quickly Fixsen had picked up most of the four strokes, excelling in freestyle as he put in the work through the years with club swimming, school swimming.
“I was amazed at how fast he picked everything up as his first season progressed. Tanner learned most of the 4 strokes in his first year of swimming but excelled in Freestyle. Tanner was able to break the one-minute barrier his first year by going a 59.95 100-yard Freestyle and into the 25 second 50-yard Freestyle,” Brown said of Fixsen. “Tanners dedication to this sport over just four years and his determination to succeed in this sport with his teammates is something Coaches only see a few times in their career.”
Fixsen leaves with seven school records and as a two-time State Champion. Fellow Senior in Dirkx leaves as a senior a part of four school records. Leaving behind a standard, like the girls did with their accomplishments, for future Stayton swimmers to chase and live up to.