About 80 athletes were pounding through the water as the Silverton High teams prepared for district competition.
There is a new surge of momentum for Foxes swimming program.
Rogers, a 27-year math teacher at Silverton, came to swimming late. He played basketball at Western Oregon and coached football, basketball and tennis before a nine-year stint as an assistant coach in swimming.
Rogers’ gambit? Go for quantity first and develop quality later. Most high school teams have 25 to 30 swimmers, many of them products of year-around club programs. The Foxes have no elite-level athletes, so they barrage you with numbers, scoring points by having numerous athletes place in events.
“Every team we swim against has better swimmers than we do, but we have more,” Rogers told Our Town. “South Albany has four really good girls, maybe better than any of ours. But my top 12 girls might be better than any of the rest of theirs. We’re emphasizing the team aspect, competing all the time. If you’re swimming next to someone for fourth and fifth… go get fourth. And they have bought into that.”
Rogers also is a bit of a training outlier. Elite swimmers tend to focus on distance: How many yards can you swim in a 90-minute practice.
“I asked myself, if you took a basketball approach to swimming would it work?” Rogers said. “We do a lot of different drills, try to mix things up and keep it interesting. If we had a club swimmer come in he would say ‘what the heck is this?’ ”
Rogers also takes on “beginning” swimmers, with assistant coaches David Botieff and Katie Tolmachoff in charge of their development.
“Jaiden Davis could not put his face in the water when he was a freshman,” Rogers said. “Now, he is our top sprinter.”
“There is a lot more talk about the swim team,” said senior Megan Brockamp, who swam on the Foxes’ 200 medley team that competed at state last season. “The freshmen really have contributed a lot. There is a lot more competition (on the team) and it makes us better. It spreads… it’s contagious throughout the team.”
“We did a lot of recruiting (on campus),” said junior Jason Orr, who swam in the 200 individual medley last year at state. “You can’t get cut and we always want to have more swimmers on the team. A lot of the credit goes to Coach Botieff. Half the team is beginners at the start of the season. Now, everybody is moving up. We’ve gone from not really being able to compete to being really competitive. It’s really exciting.”
“The biggest difference right now is we are relevant in our own hallways,” Rogers said. “The basketball players are asking how the swimmers are doing and that’s kind of cool.”
Note: The Foxes competed in the district meet after Our Town’s presstime. Please look for a report on the meet and the Feb. 17-18 state meet in the March 1 edition.
Girls hoops: Defending Class 2A champion Kennedy has clinched its second consecutive Tri-River Conference title. The Trojans, 10-1 in league and 14-8 overall, are ranked No. 3 by the OSAA heading into the Feb. 10 game at No. 2 Western Mennonite (7-4, 17-7).
Kerry Hall, who co-coaches Kennedy along with her husband Peter, credited defense and a tough schedule for putting the squad on the path to a repeat league title.
“We are holding teams to some of their lowest scores for the season,” Kerry Hall said. “We played a lot of the top 3A teams in preseason and I think it’s paying off.”
Sophomore forward Kalyssa Kleinschmit and freshman center Sophia Carley have been playing key roles lately, Hall said.
“We have a very deep bench and want to be able to run (on) teams,” Hall said. “This will be very important when playoffs start.”
Another defending state champion, Silverton, which won Class 5A a year ago, is 14-3 overall, ranked No. 4 in the state and is tied with Corvallis at 8-1 in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
The Foxes lost a hard-fought 48-42 battle to the Spartans on Jan. 27, with the two squads perhaps battling for the league title when they face off Feb. 24 in Corvallis.
“We played super hard but we didn’t make as many shots as we needed to,” Silverton coach Tal Wold said.
Kennedy football: The Trojans, who advanced to the semifinals of the Class 2A tournament last fall, are continuing to take home honors. JFK running back Bishop Mitchell, Class 2A offensive player of the year, signed a letter-of-intent Feb. 1 to play college football at Portland State University.
Mitchell signed his letter while surrounded by his family, teammates and staff an at all-school assembly. The speedy senior is the first Division I signee for Kennedy in recent memory.
“It feels really good. This is a new chapter,” said Mitchell, who added that because playing close to home was important to him picking PSU proved an easy choice. Mitchell said he plans to study sports medicine in college.
Two of Mitchell’s teammates, Brett Traeger and Jack Suining, have been honored as scholar-athletes by the National Football Foundation. Both will receive a $1,000 scholarship and will be honored at a banquet Feb. 26 in Portland. Eighty-nine Oregon student-athletes applies and 16 were selected.
During his career Traeger was an all-Tri-River Conference at quarterback, wide receiver and defensive and all-state at WR and DB. He has a 4.0 grade-point average and hopes to study sports medicine in college.
Suing, also a 4.0 student, has been named all-Tri-River at tight end, running back and linebacker and all-state at TE and LB. He plans to study fire science.
Wurstfest run: Five-kilometer and 10-kilometer fun runs are at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 in conjunction with Wurstfest in Mount Angel. Register early at racenorthwest.com/wurst for $26. Race-day signups are $30 and start at 8 a.m. at the Festhalle. Runners receive a beer stein, one beverage ticket and entry to the festival.
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