Newport –Saturday’s Newport Invitational featured three stud squads on the docket: 6A Sheldon Irish, 4A Sweet Home Huskies, and defending 4A champion Newport Cubs. The Cubs are led by sophomore star Layla Bretz, Claire Hurty, and Anastasia Kaldy, while Sheldon boasts freshman duo Kenna Higgins and Kara Peterson, and Sweet Home has Chloe Tyler, Jamie Seward, and Malia Hewitt on display. With lots of talent in the pool in Newport, it was bound to be a great meet and it certainly didn’t disappoint in the action.
The Huskies opened the meet with a win in the 200 Yard Medley Relay, with Baham and Seward anchoring the effort in a 2:03.46, beating Sheldon by around five seconds. Sweet Home’s Illinois State commit Chloe Tyler rolled in the 200 Yard Freestyle, winning by 10 and 15 seconds over Newport duo Claire Hurty and Anastasia Kaldy, giving the Huskies two early event wins in Newport. The wins kept coming for Sweet Home, this time in the form of Malia Hewitt dominating the 200 Yard IM in 2:16.54, a full 19 seconds ahead of Sheldon freshman Kenna Higgins and teammate Peyton Markell. It marked a fourth event win in a row for the Huskies, but Sheldon and Newport filling in the subsequent spots kept them in the hunt.
Seward won the 50 Yard Freestyle in 27.55, making it five events and five wins for Sweet Home, with Newport’s Pia Lihou and teammate Meagan Baham coming in the next two spots. It takes a star to snap a streak, and Newport snapped the Sweet Home winning streak with Layla Bretz and her 1:02.67 in the 100 Yard Butterfly event, followed up with Sheldon’s Eloise Huling and St. Mary’s Medford’s Tate Olivia. Chloe Tyler got the Huskies back in the win column, rolling the 100 Yard Freestyle in 54.08 over Kaldy and Baham. Hewitt kept it going in the 500 Yard Freestyle with a season best 5:33.04 to get the Huskies another event dub, but the consistency of Sheldon had the Irish in striking distance on the scoreboard as Sweet Home led 95-91 over Sheldon after the event.
Sweet Home took the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay in 1:47.11, edging out Newport’s season best 1:50.05 in the event. In the 100 Yard Backstroke, the best race of the day took place as Newport’s Layla Bretz pulled an upset on Sweet Home’s Jamie Seward with a season best 1:04.27 to a Seward’s 1:04.68. Sheldon freshman Eloise Huling pulled out a clutch win in the 100 Yard Breaststroke, winning in 1:12.77 and tying up the meet at 131-131 with the Sweet Home Huskies, setting up essentially a championship style race in the 400 Yard Relay between two squads that could each win the event. As fate would have it on this day, it was the Sweet Home Huskies who won the war, winning the 400 Yard Relay in 3:54.84 and the meet 149-145 over Sheldon, Newport finished third with 106 points on the day. It was an entertaining meet that featured the importance of team depth and consistency, with both playing the biggest roles in each team and their successes on Saturday in Newport.