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Sandy girls aim at defending the league crown

by: SANDY POST: FILE PHOTO - Sandys Hannah Gupton comes up for a breath during a 200 medley race last season.The boys’ and girls’ swimming teams at Sandy took very separate journeys as they navigated the 2012-13 season. The ladies went undefeated in the regular season, then backed it up with a first-place finish at the NWOC district meet. The boys had to scratch and claw to come away with a few victories. Despite the mixed bag of results, the two squads at Sandy are united in motivation this season.

The boys are motivated by the prospect of being more competitive every time out. They held their own in most meets, but hope for more consistency this season.

The key to achieving that consistency will come down to depth. Last year, the boys were led by Kennedy Salveter and Nick Chaney who were favorites to win their events regularly. After those two, there was a big drop-off. For the Pioneers to score higher as a team, they will need to be better from top to bottom, especially since Salveter graduated.

Chaney will be the outright leader of the team, and he has hopes to improve upon a phenomenal junior year. Last season, Chaney won the district crown in the butterfly and the breaststroke. At state, he took third in the butterfly and fifth in the breaststroke, and he is faster this season. He is looking to improve his standing at state, so he doesn’t have to dig deep to find any personal motivation.

Sandy’s girls are equally motivated, but their motivation is different. They now have a target on their backs and know they will be facing everyone’s best shot in each meet. With that mind, the Pioneers are prepared to bring their best every time they dive into the pool. They have a desire to stay at the top and have their sights set on another Northwest Oregon Conference title.

The Sandy girls are also trying to get rid of the bad taste left in their mouths at the state meet in February. After their tremendous regular season and district title, the Pioneers finished below their expectations at state by taking seventh place.

Fortunately for Sandy, most of its top swimmers from last season are returners. Asha Gatchell, Zayna Salveter and Hannah Gupton made up three of the four legs of Sandy’s relay team, which took third at state in the 200 freestyle and seventh in the 200 medley, and all three are juniors this year. With them back, Sandy will the frontrunner against everyone in the NWOC.

The junior trio will also pace the team in the individual swims. At the district meet in February, Gatchell finished second in the 500 free and third in the 200 free. Salveter claimed second in the breaststroke and third in the 200 medley.

Gupton comes into the season as one of the state’s elite swimmers. She won the state championship in the butterfly as a freshman and took second last year as a sophomore. Gupton won’t be challenged in NWOC competition and will be driven to take back her title at state.

Gupton is also the defending district champion in the 50 free. She took fifth at state in that event.

Gupton, Chaney and the rest of the Pioneers will open the season Thursday, Dec. 12 at Wilsonville.