Grizzlies cruise in SSC three-way

Kirsten Ericksen broke another school record as the Ashland High swim team dominated Klamath Union and Crater in a Southern Sky Conference three-way meet Wednesday at the Southern Oregon University pool.

Ericksen, a junior, won the 100-yard butterfly in 1 minute, 7.28 seconds to eclipse her own mark set earlier this year. She also won the 200 freestyle (2:09.89) and, along with Kaylee Tracy (first in 50 freestyle, second in 100 butterfly) led the Grizzlies to the SSC sweep, 144-97 over Crater and 144-116 over Klamath Union.

The Ashland boys also cruised. Lucas Opgenorth and Johnny Plumlee each hauled in first- and second-place medals in individual events as Ashland walloped Crater 160-82 and Klamath Union 162-72.

"It went really well," Ashland High head coach Steve Mitzel said. "We're starting to look and see where people will fit for districts (Feb. 13). We're breaking records in just about every swim meet."

This time it was Ericksen, who touched the wall in the 100 butterfly five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher (Tracy, in 1:12.98) to add to what has already been a banner season. She also helped Ashland win the 400 freestyle relay and finish second to Crater in the 200 freestyle relay.

"She's just amazing," Mitzel said of Ericksen, who's in her first year at Ashland High after moving here from Texas. "I think having her in the water has really helped (Tracy). They are very similar in the level they'd like to perform at. It's nice to have somebody there to compete with and to push you."

Also coming up big for the Ashland girls were Hannah Loop (second, 100 breaststroke), Sheralyn Shumway (second, 100 freestyle) and Grace Franckowiak (third, 100 breaststroke).

On the boys side, Opgenorth won the 200 freestyle (1:55.31) and just missed by a fraction of a second grabbing another title in the 100 freestyle (51.48), placing second to Klamath Union's Charles Warrington (51.34).

Plumlee won the 100 butterfly (1:05.83) and finished second in the 50 freestyle (24.37).

Also for the Grizz boys, Alex Harris won the 200 individual medley (2:29.77), Parker Massie placed second in the 500 freestyle (6:00.52) and Gus Simms was the runner-up to Opgenorth in the 200 freestyle (1:58.30).

Plumlee and Opgenorth, along with Michael Wynn and Forrest Kollar, also teamed up to win the 200 freestyle relay.

Mitzel said Opgenorth's drive is starting to pay off.

"He's really been focused this year," Mitzel said of the senior sprinter. "He's picked two events that he wants to focus on (the 100 and 200 freestyle) — in the past he's been a utility guy for us, and this year he said want to hone in on two events. He's done a really good job of knocking tenth of seconds off every time he swims (those events)."

Opgenorth and the rest of the Grizzlies will find out how they stack up against some of the best swimmers in southern Oregon Saturday when Ashland hosts the Rogue Valley Meet at SOU. The first event is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

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