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Girls swimmers take second in state

Lions win medley relay and Laura Laderoute wins state in the individual medley


by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - West Linn's swim team stands with its second-place trophy following last week's state meet at Mount Hood Community College. The West Linn girls swim team finished a strong second in state at Mount Hood Community College last week, an impressive feat considering the Lions' contingent in the finals consisted of just five swimmers.

But those swimmers more than made their presence known as West Linn finished in the top five in all three relays, winning the medley relay for the second year in a row.

Laura Laderoute also claimed her first individual state title, rolling to a win in the individual medley.

It would have been difficult for West Linn to top a much larger and deeper Century team for the overall state championship but the Lions were satisfied with their showing and are excited about the future with four of those swimmers next season.

“We don't have the depth that some other teams do. We're a small team but we're strong,” state qualifier Robin Pinger said.

West Linn opened the meet as the defending state champions in the medley relay and were barely tested this year. After posting the top time in the prelims, the team of Laderoute, Pinger, Kylie Norris and Brianna Dyrdahl, all sophomores and juniors, lopped nearly two seconds off their time and won in 1:48.13.

Two events later, Laderoute was back in the pool as the favorite in the individual medley. She was dominant in both the prelims in the finals and won by more than two seconds in 2:04.40.

“I like going in with the best time because it gives me confidence,” Laderoute said.

Then, in the 50 freestyle, Brie Balsbough dropped time from the prelims to the finals and took third, marking the fourth time in her high school career that she placed in the event.

For Balsbough, she was disappointed in her times but the fact that she was even able to compete at state was a feat in and of itself. In a practice a few weeks ago, Balsbough suffered whiplash on a turn and was unable to swim until shortly before districts.

“I wasn't sure if I was going to make it for districts so to even be close to my times was pretty good,” Balsbough said.

West Linn's 200 freestyle relay team of Pinger, Dyrdahl, Norris and Balsbough qualified for the finals with the third-fastest time and then swam nearly two seconds faster in the finals, passing Lakeridge for second place.

Next was Laderoute's second individual event, the backstroke, which she placed in at state last year as a freshman.

Laderoute finished a strong third, nearly running down Three Rivers League champion Lainey Visscher for second in a time of 56.38 seconds.

In the 100 breaststroke, both Pinger and Balsbough qualified for the finals easily. Pinger had the second-fastest time in the prelims and matched that finish in the finals while Balsbough took fifth.

“I was nervous before the relay but, once you're in the middle of the race, you don't really think,” Pinger said.

West Linn wrapped up the meet with a strong finish in its final relay.

Ladeorute, Norris, Pinger and Balsbough dropped time from the prelims to the finals, and took fourth overall.

“I'm really excited that we placed higher than we did last year, especially since this was my last state meet,” Balsbough said.

In the boys competition, Parker Kilstrom made the consolation finals in the 100 butterfly and moved up to 10th place with his swim in the finals, finishing in 54.34 seconds.




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