It isn’t something you typically see, and actually it might be unheard of in any capacity. While doing research on the 4A/3A/2A/1A swimming state championships before Saturday, I found that two teams will dominate every event: Sweet Home and Catlin Gabel. Actually, the teams might actually sweep the entire meet by winning every single event. Yeah, that is the type of dominance that we are looking at. Even with that known, Sweet Home will likely roll to the blue trophy over the Eagles, holding the event favorite in nine of the eleven events and Catlin Gabel having the fastest in the other two ones. Either way, it is not only absurd to think about, but shows the level of gap between these programs and the rest of 4A/3A/2A/1A. So how do you manage to accomplish such a feat? Have not only the best talent in the classification but developing it to dominate and destroy everyone else.
Sweet Home is a well-known modern swimming powerhouse, winning their three state titles since 2016 and having three runner-up finishes. As for Catlin Gabel, they are also a relatively new powerhouse, capturing their first title in school history in 2020 to put a gap in title years for the Huskies. Sweet Home boasts a deep lineup that consists of a blend between seasoned veterans and high ceiling youth, bringing a unique approach to the state meet. Malia Hewitt, Jamie Seward, and Chloe Tyler are the deadly, experienced trio that carries the Huskies, all of whom specialize in both individual events and in relays. Kirsten Sautel is the likely future of the Sweet Home program, being a freshman who dominates in the 200 Yard Freestyle and serves as a great help on the relay teams. Peyton Markell is another freshman who the Huskies might tap into for the future, currently working on improving in individual events and playing a role on the relay for Sweet Home. With this type of depth, it is no wonder why they dominate competitors at the smallest school level.
Switching gears to Catlin Gabel, they are the opposite of Sweet Home: They have a youthful core that will only continue to get better as they mature in their high school careers. Freshman Jane Hanson will have some great battles with Kirsten Sautel the next three years, sitting within a second of the Husky freshman in the 200 Yard Freestyle. Hanson also serves on the relay teams, giving some seasoning and experience that will serve her well down the road. Sophomore Adrienne Tam will officially take the torch from Malia Hewitt in the 200 Yard IM next year, inheriting the state lead once Hewitt graduates this Spring. Tam also leads the classification in the 100 Yard Butterfly and serves as an anchor on the relay teams. Distance swimmer Jane Hanson is also a freshman for the Eagles, leading the state in the 500 Yard Freestyle. With their relay teams staying in the Top 2 for the foreseeable future, those are plenty of wins to take home and points to rack up for a blue trophy.
The 2023 state championships might be a completely different script than the 2022 edition is coming out to be, but Sweet Home and/or Catlin Gabel will be in the path to any state title for the foreseeable future. While I am certainly preferring to have a spice of variety in meets, this type of dominance from Sweet Home and Catlin Gabel is not just unprecedented, but it is something to be admired. The 2022 state championships might not look close on the scoreboard, but it is an opportunity to witness what greatness looks like in the pool, watching young women from two teams put on a clinic on the route to utter dominance. Whether you like watching this type of dominance or not, it is something that we should soak in as a moment to witness greatness in the small school landscape on full display. If you still aren’t convinced to soak it in, then you better be rooting for Molalla’s Marie Mason to win the 500 Yard Freestyle or Cove’s Sarah Koza in the 50 Yard Freestyle, these two are the only realistic hopes to be the spoiler to this feat.