Cottage Grove — Led by the dominance of Claire Sheerin, Sophia Selivanova, and Kirsti Keppo, the South Eugene Axe entered the finals of Saturday’s 6A Southwest Conference district meet in Cottage Grove with high expectations and hopes of bringing home a district title back to Eugene. With a mixed field of competitors, the Axe went headfirst into it and came back out victorious from it.
The Axe kicked off the meet with a victory in the 200 Yard Medley Relay, posting a 1:56.77 to beat Grants Pass and their 2:00.42 performance, with both teams improving over their times from the preliminary round. South Medford would strike in the first individual event of the day, with Ellie Carson running away from South Eugene’s Sophia Selivanova to take the event in a 2:01.97. Axe star Claire Sheerin struck lightning in the 200 Yard IM, taking the race in 2:16.09 over her teammate Julia Codding. After the first events of the day, South Eugene held a firm lead with 136 points through three events.
In the only one of three races without a Top 3 Axe finisher, Tayler Ziegler of Grants Pass took the 50 Yard Freestyle event in 24.85 seconds, taking Sheldon’s Eloise Huling by almost a full second. The 100 Yard Butterfly marked the return of the Axe, with Sheerin, Kirsti Keppo, and Codding going 1-2-3 in the event. Ziegler returned to victory in the 100 Yard Freestyle against North Medford’s Eva Ringger, winning it in a fast 54.33 seconds. Keppo took home the 500 Yard Freestyle race by over 10 seconds against South Medford’s Ellie Carson, returning the Axe back to their familiar spot on the podium.
Grants Pass broke through in the 200 Yard Free Relay, taking it in 1:43.64 to beat Sheldon by around five seconds. South Eugene Freshman Sophia Selivanova won the 100 Yard Backstroke event over teammates Cassidy Miller and Naomi Saenger, marking another 1-2-3 Axe finishing order. It was a freshman sweep on the Top 3 in the 100 Yard Breaststroke, as Sheldon’s Eloise Huling took home the win over North Medford’s Mila Lavelle and Grants Pass Emerson Kolb. In the final cap, Grants Pass took the 400 Yard Free Relay by around three seconds over South Eugene, but it was the Axe who would win the district title with 333 points on the day.
On To State
With the district results in, the Southwest Conference will be sending Ellie Carson (South Medford), Claire Sheerin (South Eugene), Tayler Ziegler (Grants Pass), Kirsti Keppo (South Eugene), Sophia Selivanova (South Eugene), and Eloise Hulling (Sheldon) to the state championships in a couple of weeks. Any other qualifiers will be determined once all the 6A districts have finished their meets after next Saturday.