Lake Oswego — They came 20 points short of a state title, but there was nothing but celebration and anticipation on the Lake Oswego squad. Returning to the Top 2 for the first time since 2012, the Lakers kept pace with Westview and a distance from Jesuit all day on Saturday, all anchored by a youthful squad who will only lose one senior from the 2022 second-best 6A team in Oregon. If they keep it up and can take advantage of Westview losses in the off-season, the Lakers could be back with the blue trophy for the first time since 1990.
The Lakers anchor comes in the form of their talented youth: AnneMarie Vlaic and Isabelle Yoon, along with some returning seniority with Dylan Gustaff. Lake Oswego will be losing Olivia Andersen to graduation, who picked up some points in the 200 Yard Freestyle and 100 Backstroke events for the Lakers at state. While every point counts, there is much to be gained in 2023 for Vlaic, Yoon, and Gustaff, as top athletes move on to their collegiate pursuits and open spots come at the top of the totem pole in events. With Westview’s Fay Lustria moving on to UCLA in the fall, Vlaic becomes the top returning athlete in the 100 Yard Butterfly event. She will also move up to runner-up in the 500 Yard Freestyle event with the graduation of Grant’s Quinn Brown. Combine that with retaining 3/4ths of their runner-up relay teams, and that is a lot to gain next year for Vlaic and the Lakers.
While Isabelle Yoon might not be the top returner in her events next year, an off-season of training and improvement will certainly help in the pool. She’ll come back as the fifth-fastest in the 200 Yard IM and second fastest in the 100 Yard Backstroke, an event that will see many top contenders graduate. In the position of seniority for 2023, Dylan Gustaff’s leadership and performance will be integral to the leap from runner-up to state champion. She has an all-American pace at the 200 Yard IM and will be 6A’s fastest returning athlete in that event, she’ll move up to fifth-fastest in the 100 Yard Breaststroke and has a critical role in Lake Oswego’s relay teams. There is so much to gain from the losses of other programs, and those points add up when you start getting higher up on the score sheet.
The trio of Yoon, Gustaff, and Vlaic will be a fun one to watch next season, especially when you consider there are possibly two individual champions, a pair of runner-ups, plenty of top five contention to work with, and two top relay teams returning, Lake Oswego is going to be a favorite to take state in 2023. Watch out for the Lakers next season, it might just be the year that they snap a 33-year title drought behind the work of a youthful pair of swimmers and a senior that will help lead them there.