South's Reierson ends long drought with title

GRESHAM — With 50 yards to go in the finals of the Class 6A girls 200-yard individual medley, Sarah Reierson knew she had a chance to leave more than 30 years of history in her wake.

"I saw at the last flip-turn we were neck-and-neck," said Reierson, who held off Jesuit senior Megan McCarroll to capture the 200 IM state championship on Saturday at Mount Hood Community College. "I couldn't let myself lose."

The South Medford junior became the first swimmer since Medford split into two high schools in 1986 to claim an individual state title, edging McCarroll by less than three-tenths of a second to grab gold with a time of 2 minutes, 7.03 seconds.

It was the first championship by a Medford swimmer since Sue Ross won the 50 and 100 freestyles for Medford High in 1980.

Already South Medford's all-time best individual finisher after a second-place run in the 200 IM last year, Reierson set her sights on the top of the podium at the onset of the season, and Panther coach Doug Stewart said she easily exceeded the commitment required to reach the wall first at state.

"She's dedicated, focused and concentrated, but it takes so much more than that to get where she is," Stewart said, wiping tears from his eyes after embracing a beaming Reierson after the finish. "She knew there had never been a (South Medford) state championship, and she had all that pressure. Most swimmers would fold under that kind of pressure, but she didn't."

A district champion in the 200 IM the last two years, Stewart called Reierson "the most fierce swimmer I know" and "a beautiful competitor" — traits that came to the surface in the final.

"I knew my first 100 was right where it should be," said Reierson. "I knew if I was even with (McCarroll) at the freestyle, that's where I could pull it out. It was my strength over her."

McCarroll, who will swim next year at Duke University, was the two-time defending state champion in the event.

Reierson also won the consolation final of the 100 butterfly, finishing seventh overall (59.84). Freshman Kaylee Cooper took fifth in the same heat and 11th overall (1:02.81).

The Panther girls 400-free relay team of Kaylee Cooper, sophomore Jenna Cooper, sophomore Sami Case and Reierson also finished strong in the consolation finals, taking third place in the heat and ninth overall (3:50.24).

South Medford finished in 14th place at the meet, while Jesuit won its third straight state title with 183 points.

Class 5A

SIMMS, ERICKSON SHINE — At Gresham, Ashland's Kirsten Erickson and Gus Simms held their own in finals, nabbing medals in the morning session.

Erickson, a senior, closed out her career with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke, shaving more than a second off her preliminary time to finish in 1:08.11.

Simms, a sophomore, took third in the boys 100 butterfly with a time of 53.99, while the Grizzly girls 200 freestyle team of freshman Maddy Longshore, junior Cassie Hall, freshman Grace Geisslinger and junior Sheralyn Shumway took sixth with a time of 1:49.19.

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