The Mid-Willamette Conference boys district swim meet ended with a match race race on Saturday afternoon at Osborn Aquatic Center.
The 200-yard individual medley, which was one of the first finals held, ended in a first-place tie between Nick Gambatese of Corvallis High and Gabe Desimone of West Albany with matching times of 2 minutes, 6.12 seconds.
With team points and an automatic individual bid to the state meet on the line, officials huddled and ultimately decided that the race would be settled by a swim-off after the conclusion of the meet.
Desimone said he was dreading the race all afternoon, even as he competed in his regular slate of events.
“I thought about just giving it to him at first, but you can’t quit,” Desimone said.
The medley ends with the freestyle, a stroke in which Gambatese is the stronger swimmer. So Desimone felt he needed to have a significant advantage going into the final 50 yards.
But he ran the risk of using too much energy early, a mistake he made in the finals.
“My coach (Babette Romancier) told me to take it a little easier on the butterfly,” Desimone said. “That saved me.”
Desimone still held a slight lead after the butterfly, but Gambatese came back to take the lead at the midway point after the backstroke.
Desimone regained the advantage on the breaststroke and, with their teammates screaming encouragement from the edge of the pool, built up enough cushion to hold off Gambatese’s final charge in the freestyle. Desimone improved on his earlier time, finishing in 2:05.78
While the Bulldogs won that particular event, the day belonged to the Spartans, who cruised to a convincing win in the team points race. Corvallis finished with 504.5 points, well ahead of West Albany (411.5) and Crescent Valley (252).
Corvallis senior Joe Cihak led the way, winning the 50 freestyle (22.46 seconds) and setting a new district record in the 100 breaststroke. He said the championship was a team effort.
“Especially this year, to do it in such dominating fashion,” Cihak said. “Every boy on the team has gone out and done their best, and it really shows.”
Cihak said his run at the district record started as a jest Saturday morning. Several Spartans were discussing their goal times for the day and a teammate suggested he take aim at the record in the 100 breaststroke, which was 1 minute, 1.6 seconds, set by Woodburn’s Kyle Wicks in 2010.
“I said, ‘that sounds like a good idea. I’ll aim for that and see how it goes,’” Cihak said, before going on to post a time of 1:01.25.
Brandon Shreeve also won two individual events for the Spartans, the 200 freestyle (1:44.77) and the 500 freestyle (4:46.23).
Shreeve, a junior, swam for the Spartans as a freshman, but didn’t come out as a sophomore, choosing instead to focus on his club swimming.
He discovered he missed it.
“You don’t get the same team aspect with club swimming, the teammates, the camaraderie,” Shreeve said. “It’s exciting.”
The other individual titles, and automatic state berths, went to West Albany’s Joshua Johnson in the 100 butterfly (57.33); Corvallis High’s Trevor Gourley in the 100 freestyle (50.92); and Crescent Valley’s Alex Brookes in the 100 backstroke (56.23).
The at-large bids to next week’s state championships at Mt. Hood Community College will be given to those who post the top times in the various district meets.
Team scores: 1. Corvallis 504.5; 2. West Albany 411.5; 3. Crescent Valley 252; 4. Lebanon 204; 5. South Albany 184; 6. Dallas 164; 7. Silverton 137
200 medley relay: 1. West Albany (Gabe Desimone, Joshua Johnson, Zacary Plum, Doug Keys), 1:46.07; 2. Crescent Valley (Alex Brookes, Garrett Fleetwood, Connor King, Chad Seevers), 1:47.94; 3. Corvallis (Nick Gambatese, Karl Weiler, Marcus McCormick, Trevor Gourley), 1:48.47
200 freestyle: 1. Brandon Shreeve, Corvallis, 1:44.77; 2. Ian Campbell, Corvallis, 1:47.64; 3. Brookes, CV, 1:48.53
200 IM: 1. Nick Gambatese, Corvallis, 2:06.12; 1. Gabe Desimone, WA, 2:06.12; 3. Joe Serewis, Corvallis, 2:08.87
50 freestyle: 1. Joe Cihak, Corvallis, 22.46; 2. Gourley, Corvallis, 23.00; 3. Plum, WA, 24.11
100 butterfly: 1. Johnson, WA, 57.33; 2. Plum, WA, 59.24; 3. King, CV, 1:00.03
100 freestyle: 1. Gourley, Corvallis, 50.92; 2. Serewis, Corvallis, 51.74; 3. Max Thompson, Lebanon, 52.30
500 freestyle: 1. Shreeve, Corvallis, 4:46.23; 2. Ian Campbell, Corvallis, 4:50.32; 3. Wyatt Engler, Lebanon, 4:56.16
200 freestyle relay: 1. Corvallis (Cihak, Serewis, Shreeve, Campbell), 1:33.01; 2. West Albany (Keys, Austin Barton, Smith, Travis Cox) 1:35.91; 3. South Albany (Bryce Armstrong, Travis Chagnon, Bryce Dickerson, Tanner Grenz), 1:36.66
100 backstroke: 1. Brookes, CV, 56.23; 2. Joseph Reedy, Silverton, 57.59; 3. Desimone, WA, 58.42
100 breaststroke: 1. Cihak, Corvallis, 1:01.25; 2. King, CV, 1:05.81; 3. Kalon Schmidt, Dallas, 1:05.83
400 freestyle relay: 1. Corvallis (Shreeve, Campbell, Serewis, Cihak), 3:22.66; 2. West Albany (Barton, Cox, Johnson, Desimone), 3:34.05; 3. Lebanon (Thompson, Rylan Rogers, Darrin Breshears, Wyatt Engler), 3:37.89