Billings Central swimmer Pierce Oja repeats as state champ in 200 freestyle

2014-02-15T18:52:00Z 2014-02-19T14:47:04Z Billings Central swimmer Pierce Oja repeats as state champ in 200 freestyleGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
February 15, 2014 6:52 pm  • 

BUTTE — Pierce Oja of Billings Central successfully defended his title in the boys 200-yard freestyle on Saturday and the Rams repeated as both Class A boys and girls team champions in the state swim meet at the Butte YMCA.

Oja, a junior, cruised to victory in a time of 1:48.18, more than four seconds ahead of second-place finisher Stephen Murphy of Helena High.

Oja also finished second in the 100 freestyle, losing a down-to-the-wire battle with Helena’s Pete Kotson, 47.58 to 48.25.

“Pierce swam great,” said Central coach Brenden Smith. “He dominated the 200 free and led start to finish. And he swam Pete really hard in the 100 free. That was one of the best races of the day.”

Central’s boys scored 89 points to run away with the team title. The other three Class A schools — Hardin, Havre and Bigfork — were all in single digits. The Rams finished sixth in the overall (Class AA and A) team standings.

The Lady Rams also rolled to victory, scoring 108 points, well ahead of runner-up Havre’s 36. Central was fourth in the overall team standings.

The team title is the sixth straight for the Central girls and fifth straight for the boys.

“It was kind of an up-and-down meet, but overall we swam well,” said Smith. “The kids competed hard.”

Oja’s win was the lone victory of the meet for Billings swimmers.

Other boys placers included Nathan Frieders of Senior fifth in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 100 butterfly; Chandler Zins of Central fourth in the 100 butterfly and sixth in the 100 backstroke; and Connor Maas of Senior fifth in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.

On the girls side, Jenna Marsh of Central finished second in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, halting her streak of six wins in six state events in her career.

Other girls placers included Linnaya Luoma of Skyview second in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 50 freestyle; and Sami Duval of Central fifth in the 100 backstroke and sixth in the 200 IM.

The Central foursome of Marsh, Duval, Sophie Malin and Kya Sorli finished second in both the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays.

Missoula Hellgate won both overall team titles. The dominant Hellgate girls rolled to a 306-217 margin over Bozeman, while the Hellgate boys outscored Helena High, 235-182.

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