OLYMPIA - It's the kind of swim meet where depth makes you a contender and high-quality depth makes you a winner.
The North Thurston Rams are both deep and fast, and it showed up in a team victory Saturday at the South Sound Invitational Relays at The Evergreen State College.
The meet, featuring five local boys swimming teams, was organized after a similar all-relays meet for girls proved popular with swimmers and coaches last fall.
North Thurston won nine of the 11 events to amass 413 points, outdistancing second-place Olympia’s 297. Shelton was third with 269 points. Capital had 236 and River Ridge 164.
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“We’ve got a happy team,” North Thurston coach Jak Ayres said as his guys hoisted the first-place trophy.
“This kind of meet suits our program. Depth and our faster swimmers won it for us.”
Olympia district coaches Dean Sawhill of Capital and Mel Smith of Olympia teamed to put on the meet, which put Class 4A Olympia and Shelton, Class 3A Capital and Class 2A North Thurston and River Ridge in the same pool.
The Rams capped off the day’s events with a decisive victory in the 4x100-yard freestyle relay, with the foursome of Nathan Anderson, Brady Neely, Erik Solveson and Cameron Peterson bringing it home in a time of 3 minutes, 35.46 seconds.
Junior anchorman Peterson hit the water slightly behind Shelton’s Max Crain and gradually caught up, passed and pulled away to give his team a victory by nearly five seconds over the Highclimbers quartet.
The Rams got a powerful swim from sophomore Tyler Ridgeway in the 2x50 free relay. Ridgeway took over from relay-mate Scott Harn with several yards to make up on the leader and nipped Shelton’s Richard Rutledge on the touch to win in 48.14, two-tenths of a second faster than Shelton’s 48.34.
It was Peterson stepping up again for the Rams in the 2x100 butterfly event. Peterson started a dozen yards behind Capital’s TaiSheng Yeager but surged past the Cougars anchor to give his duo a win in 2:00.52, .88 seconds ahead of Capital.
“He’s got the Ram finish,” Ayres said of Peterson. “It takes mental toughness on the part of the kids to pull it off.”
North Thurston’s Matthew Brickey also closed fast in the 4x50 free relay, the day’s closest race, nipping Shelton’s Jon Ramsey on the anchor leg by 15-hundredths of a second in 1:40.75. His Rams relay-mates were Andy Brunsch, Ridgeway and Jordan Agtarap.
North Thurston also won the 4x100 medley relay (Solveson, Harn, Peterson and Ridgeway) in 3:59.08; the 2x100 medley (Solveson and Peterson) in 2:02.38; the 2x100 backstroke (Solveson and Brunsch) in 2:04.62; the 2x100 breaststroke (Harn and Luis Hernandez) in 2:24.43; and the 2x100 free relay (Neely and Anderson) in 1:47.30.
Capital’s duo of Nyle Taylor and Ross Anderson teamed to win the 2x200 free relay in a time of 3:59.84.
Olympia’s foursome of Tristan Pham, Josh Nejedly, Clayton Middleton and Alex Jones claimed the meet’s only other first place, winning the 4x200 free relay in a time of 8:21.35.
Olympia’s Smith said swimmers from several teams cross district lines to compete together year-round on local club teams.
“This meet brings the swimming community together,” he said.
All five teams are aiming at district meets in early February. Olympia and Shelton will compete in the 4A District 3 meet Feb. 4-5 at Rogers High School in Puyallup, Capital is eyeing the 3A District 4 meet Feb. 9-10 at Hazen High in Renton, and North Thurston and River Ridge compete in the 2A District 4 meet Feb. 4-5 at Mark Morris in Longview.