Ben Johnson, Alex Fox, Perry Groves, Seth Miller and Kevin Groves will compete in the 200 and 400 free relays at the state tournament this weekend. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

On the whole, their goals are modest – make it to the second day. A top six finish would be icing on the cake.

But Alex Fox, Kevin and Perry Groves, Ben Johnson and Seth Miller, the contingent of Celtics who earned berths at the state swimming meet, are shooting for something less tangible than medals or trophies.

“We’re going to be swimming for Kim,” said Johnson, acknowledging the efforts and time of coach Kim Phillips.

“And make sure she’s smiling the whole time,” Fox added.

The five swimmers comprise the two relay teams, 200- and 400-yards, that will hit the pool this weekend. Perry also earned a slot in the 50 free in individual races.

“It’s nice to go as a relay team because it means we know we have people cheering for us,” Miller said. “It’s a good stimulant.”

Perry said making it to the final level of state competition was the tangible result of months of hard work.

“It’s paid off and we’ve come together to get better as a team,” he said.

It was never more evident than when the team seemed to already be settling for making it to the second day. The moment they started to get complacent, Kevin piped up, “Top six is what I’m shooting for in both races.”

Less than a second later, each member of the team changed their tune.

In the overall standings at the regional tournament last weekend, the boys took third place in the district meet with 225 points, behind South Salem with 251 points and West Salem with 248 points.

The only event the Celts won was the 200 free relay with a time of 1:32.04, a full three seconds ahead of their closest competition. P. Groves, Miller, Johnson, and K. Groves comprised the winning team. The team of Miller, Fox, K. Groves and Johnson took second in the 400 free relay. P. Groves took second in the 50 free relay with a time of 22.64, just eight-tenths of a second behind the leader. Johnson took second in the 100 free posting a time of 50.09 and third in the 100 backstroke with a time of 59.16. Miller took third in the 500 free relay with a time of 5:11.57, which was ahead of his hoped for 5:14, but not enough to overtake Redmond High School’s Matthew Carpenter who blew the competition out of the water with a time of 4:49.75. Fox took fourth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:17 and fifth in the 100 breast in 1:08.97. K. Groves took fourth in the 100 breast posting a time of 1:07.58.

In girls’ races, the 200 free relay team of Jade Boyd, Annie Fox, Rachel Hittner and Laura Donaldson had the best finish, third, in the 200 free relay with a t time of 1:48.71. Donaldson took fourth in the 50 free with a time of  26.18 and the 100 free in 58.02. Hittner had fifth place finishes in the 200 free, 2:07.87, and the 100 free, 59.65. Boyd took sixth in the 500 free with a time of 6:01.37 and Monica Howard finished sixth in the 100 breast with a time of 1:20.35.