WEST SALEM — It’s girls 2-1 over boys in turnout for swimming at West Salem High.

And veteran coach Dan Evans has at least a handful of girls with the tools to represent the Titans at state.

The West Salem girls were undefeated in meets last season. They wrapped up things by defeating Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Silverton and Stayton in the Willamette Valley Season Finale, which capped a most-unusual pandemic spring season.

Last season ended oddly in particular because of its length. Even the Titans had swimmers missing for the finale, as school already was done for the year and some athletes and families had moved on to other things.

This year, Oregon School Activities Association athletics are on a typical schedule, and the Titans are prepping for their season opener – the Salem-Keizer Relay Meet at Kroc Center on Thursday, Dec. 2.

“We’re back up to our normal range of kids on the team, too,” said Evans.

After the first practice, Evans had 35 girls and 17 boys at his disposal. That’s less than the usual turnout at league foes South Salem and McNary, but it’s enough to be competitive in upcoming races and at the Mountain Valley Conference district meet, set for Feb. 11-12 in Bend.

Evans will look to seniors Paige Anderson and Caitlin Waldner, junior Mia Piexoto, sophomore Reyna Macias and freshmen Olivia Powell and Emily Silldorff as mainstays.

Anderson is a two-time state qualifier and generally swims the 200- and 500-meter freestyle. Waldner also has two state appearances and typically competes in the 100 backstroke and butterfly. Piexoto has been a top age-group swimmer outside of high school and can be a factor in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley. Macias probably will do most of her damage in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Powell is another age-group standout; she set a state record (10-and-under 50 breaststroke) and has the versatility to do the breaststroke, IM and short freestyle races. Silldorff is another who ranks highly in age-group competition and can do a lot of things, including the 200 and 500 free, breaststroke and IM events.

The West Salem boys team is younger than the girls this season, Evans said, with junior Kaden Oprea and his brother, sophomore Mika, likely to be among the big scorers. Kaden specializes as a breaststroker and freestyler while Mika does the breaststroke and sprint freestyle events.

Evans is in his 21st year as West Salem swim coach, after putting in 10 years as the coach at South Salem. He’s coached at various clubs through the years and now works for Courtside Aquatic in Salem. The 1987 South Salem High graduate swam four years there and four years at Willamette University, where he captained the Bearcats his senior year.

“My mom was not a swimmer, so she wanted to make sure my brother and I knew how,” he said. “When I was 4, I started taking lessons at the YMCA, and I pretty much haven’t been away from it since then.”

With one child in middle school and two in elementary school, Evans said he hopes to continue coaching until his youngest, age 8, gets through high school.

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