Seaside swimmers

While waiting their turn, Seaside swimmers react during a relay event.

It was a busy five days for local swimmers last week, as Astoria and Seaside begin preparations for the post-season league and district meets.

The week ended with a three-way gathering with the Fishermen, Gulls and Class 6A West Salem, Friday at the Astoria Aquatic Center.

West Salem won the girls’ meet with 163 points, well ahead of Astoria (77) and Seaside (51).

On the boys’ side, Seaside scored the team championship with 141 points, followed by Astoria (110) and West Salem (47).

The Seaside boys highlighted a big performance with several wins, including the 200-yard medley relay squad of Leif Rehnert, Leif DeWinter, Logan Dennis and Henry Garvin (two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman).

The foursome won the relay in 2 minutes, 1.22 seconds, ahead of Astoria’s Riley Cameron, Hugo Mancebo-Perello, Noah Kastengren and Stephen Ero (2:03.32).

Out of 18 entrants in the 50-yard freestyle, Garvin had the best time of 24.88 seconds, ahead of Carter, Rehnert and Luke Vurley for a 1-4 sweep.

Dennis won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:05.66, ahead of teammate Sam Heroux.

Seaside (Carter, Dennis, Vurley and Garvin) also had the winning team in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:45.32).

Rehnert (1:09.67) and Collins (1:12.34) finished 1-2 in the 100-yard backstroke, and DeWinter won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:17.32.

The Fishermen had a win from Noah Kastengren in the 200-yard freestyle (2:11.23), ahead of teammate Nikolai Boisvert (2:23.80).

Cameron had the best time in the 200-yard individual medley (2:19.68), and added a win in the 100-yard freestyle (53.78), ahead of three Seaside swimmers (Garvin, Carter and Vurley).

Kastengren recorded a 5:59.29 to win the 500-yard freestyle, with Seaside freshman Masyn McCulloch a distant second (6:54.21).

Cameron, Mancebo-Perello, Boisvert and Kastengren won the 400-yard freestyle relay in 4:02.02, ahead of Seaside.

For the Astoria girls, Tori Smith won the 200 medley (2:29.90) and was second in the butterfly (1:11.02); Astoria freshman Emelia Cameron won the backstroke in 1:12.91, and Grace Peeler was second in the 200-yard freestyle (2:23.16)

Seaside’s Nicole Blankenhorn won the 50 freestyle (28.67); the Gulls’ Kaisa Liljenwall, a senior at Warrenton who competes for Seaside, won the 100-yard freestyle in 1:04.08, ahead of 19 other entrants.

The Lady Gulls (Liljenwall, Brooke Blankenhorn, Emily Philbrook and Nicole Blankenhorn) took second in the 200 freestyle relay.

“After a long break without competition, it was a busy week,” said Seaside coach Shane Spell, whose team had a Jan. 15 dual meet at Valley Catholic postponed to Feb. 4.

West Salem “didn’t have all their team, but it was good to see some different competition,” he said. “Kaisa Liljenwall had a nice 100 free and some strong relay legs; Logan Dennis is getting back to healthy and represented well in the 100 fly, and Leif DeWinter continued a nice run of good swims in the 100 breaststroke.”

Overall, Spell said, “we were a little sluggish after racing just two days before, but it’s good practice for districts and hopefully beyond.”

Seaside boys win the Cheese Relays

Seaside competed in the Tillamook Cheese Relays, held Jan. 18.

Seaside finished third in the team standings on both sides, behind Newport and Tillamook on the girls’ side, while Taft and Newport took first and second, respectively, for the boys meet.

Competing against Newport, Taft, Toledo, Valley Catholic and host Tillamook, the first Seaside victory came from the two-person girls’ team of Taryn Shay and Brooke Blankenhorn, whose time of 3 minutes, 48.70 seconds won the 300-yard freestyle relay, well ahead of Newport’s 4:12.80.

The Lady Gulls added a win the 400-yard freestyle relay, with the foursome of Ashlee Fraser, Brooke Blankenhorn, Emily Philbrook and Nicole Blankenhorn taking first in 4:59.34, 29 seconds ahead of Newport.

Seaside’s 200-yard freestyle relay squad of Nicole Blankenhorn, Ashley Conrad, Fraser and Shay placed second in 2:09.89, behind Tillamook.

In a two-swimmer 200-yard freestyle relay, Brooke Blankenhorn and Shay took second in 2:21.51, just behind Newport’s 2:20.10.

On the boys’ side, Seaside’s team of Westin Carter, Luke Vurley, Shawn Collins and Liam Matlock took first place in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:48.23, well ahead of Taft.

Leif Rehnert, Leif DeWinter, Sam Heroux and Henry Garvin had the second-best time in the 200-yard medley relay (2:03.17), behind Valley Catholic.

Another second-place relay finish came from Shawn Collins, Cameron Lippert, Justin Hallocks and Leif Rehnert in the 200-yard backstroke relay, in a time of 2:15.81.

The Cheese Relays “are a great opportunity to race with some different kinds of events,” Spell said. “The girls’ effort was impressive, due to only having eight swimmers for the day.”

Garvin “had some impressive legs in a couple of relays, including battling through some cramping issues towards the end,” he said. “Westin Carter was able to make his competitive debut after being cleared for action after recovering from a foot injury from soccer.”

Gulls score wins in three-way meet

Four days later, the Gulls had their second home meet of the season, hosting Tillamook and Taft in a three-way dual.

In the girls’ team results, Tillamook defeated Taft (80-76) and Seaside (74-69), and Taft topped Seaside (79-76).

For Seaside, Shay (2:31.12) and Brooke Blankenhorn (2:31.82) finished 1-2 in the 200 freestyle.

Liljenwall (1:06.41) and Nicole Blankenhorn (1:06.95) were second and third in the 100 freestyle.

In boys’ team scoring, Taft defeated both Tillamook (118-37) and Seaside (88-81), while the Gulls beat Tillamook (122-27).

Garvin (25.66) and Carter (26.40) had the top two times in the 50 freestyle, as well as the best times in the 100 freestyle, Garvin winning in 57.65 to Carter’s 59.46.

Carter, Logan Dennis, Luke Vurley and Garvin teamed up to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:44.85.

Spell said, “The team was excited about racing again at home, and responded with a lot of quality swims. The girls’ team scores were competitive amongst all the teams, and it’s great for our swimmers to see some of the faster individual swims as we get closer to districts.”

The distance swimmers “had some nice time drops, and overall there is growing potential to advance a good number of swimmers to the second day of districts.”

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or

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