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Fun meet features six decades of PHS swimming

Officially, it was a practice session for the Powell Panther boys swim team, but it had a little different look on the morning of Dec. 29.

Among the athletes warming up were a number of female swimmers, and some of the athletes in the pool looked, shall we say, a little more mature than the average high school swimmer.

It was all part of the Powell High School Alumni Challenge swim meet organized by PHS assistant swim coach and 1975 PHS alum Jerry Rodriguez. Swimmers from six decades took to the water for the competition, the oldest being 1968 grad Bill Cox, who joined 20 other former PHS swimmers for the chance to compete again. There to meet the challenge were the current Panther swimmers along with three members of this year’s Lady Panther squad.

The light-hearted tone of the event was set with an impromptu diving competition during the warm-up period, when scores as high as 9.5 were awarded by the judges. It continued when Class of 2011 teammates Claire Wetzel, Alyssa Smith and Brittany Christensen brought out the counters normally used to help swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle keep track of 20 laps to help their former teammate, Jessica Wurzel count the four laps of the 100.

In deference to the more seasoned swimmers, some of whom admitted they hadn’t been swimming since they closed their senior seasons, all the races were shortened except the 50 yard freestyle, which may have allowed the alumni to stay fresh enough to win all but two of the individual events and one of the two relays.

But, while there were a few friendly rivalries between former teammates — Roy Oursler (09) and Forrest Smith (08) — and between generations — Jon Bowers (82) and current Panther Jakob Bowers — winning the race wasn’t the main objective. Having a good time was.

That didn’t mean the swimmers didn’t push themselves, though.

Cindy Shumway (07), swam the individual medley early in the meet, then swam the butterfly lap for a medley relay team. Immediately after the relay, she was back in the pool for the butterfly.

How did it go?

“Two flies in a row,” Shumway said. “That’s not good.”

Randy Bullinger (09) also admitted it was a little tough to compete again.

“It about killed me,” Bullinger said.

Despite the unaccustomed exertion in the pool though, the swimmers all seemed to enjoy the experience.

“It was kinda tough. I don’t ever swim any more,” said 2007 graduate Aimee DeBock. “But it was fun.”

Jennifer Terry and Kristen (Cox) Greenwald, both 1999 graduates, echoed DeBock.

“Exhausting,” Terry said.

“It was hard, but it’s a lot of fun,” Greenwald said.

Terry and Greenwald had only one complaint.

“We needed Coach (Ray) Bieber here,” Greenwald said.

For the record, the Alumni men edged the current Panthers 56-55, while the women, aided by the fact that only three current Lady Panthers participated, took a 71-18 win. Combined, the Alumni scored a 140-88 victory.

Individual winners for the women were Terry in the 100 and the 50, Kaiya Rodriguez (07) in the individual medley and the breaststroke, Shumway in the butterfly, and PHS junior Sarah Wurzel in the backstroke.

For the men, winners were Roy Oursler in the 100, Patrick Spiker (07) in the individual medley and the breaststroke, Jackson Miller (09) in the 50, Billy Cummings (11) in the butterfly, PHS sophomore Nic Tracy in the backstroke, and Josh Olberding (08) in diving.

Current Panthers Jakob Bowers, Edward Oursler, Kyle Anderson and Tracy won the 200 freestyle relay, and Miller, Spiker, Forrest Smith and Roy Oursler won the medley relay.

Also competing were Chrissy (Calvin) Lennnon (04) for the women and current Lady Panthers SarahJean O’Brian and Gretchen Moretti. Joining the men were Bill Cox (68) and Danny McKearney (09)  and current Panthers Matt Abraham, Billy Baker, Alex Bjornestad, Garret Hall, Jarred LaPierre, Jake Magill, Telton Pederson, Matt Riedhammer, Ben Wetzel, Quin Wetzel and Trevor Zickafoose.

Jerry Rodriguez said he plans to have a similar event next year, and at least one swimmer, Cox indicated he might return to the pool again

“It’s over,” Cox said, “at least until next year.”

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