- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

JENKS, Okla. (AP) - Jamie Roberts sat midway up the bleachers and watched the 100-yard butterfly Feb. 20 wishing there was a way to cheer for his stepson Ethan Powers.

“I had to step out yesterday because I just couldn’t take it,” Jamie Roberts told The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/21lRtX0 ). “We had another guy down here cheering for his kid. It sucked because I couldn’t be doing that for mine.”

Powers, a senior at Altus, died along with two teenagers in a traffic accident Feb. 14, six days before he was scheduled to swim in the Class 5A state swim meet. He was remembered throughout the two-day meet at Jenks Trojans Aquatic Center by his teammates, community and opponents.

Altus swimmers carried a poster during introductions for each relay Saturday with his picture on it. A moment of silence was held before the meet. On Feb. 19, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association did not remove his name from prelim lists and left his lane open in the butterfly and 100 breaststroke.

“I was so proud,” said Crystal Roberts, Powers’ mom. “For something this big and him still being remembered, it’s amazing. I’m in awe of my son.”

Powers became an inspiration for the Bulldogs as they rolled to a second straight state championship, beating second-place Fort Gibson 306-223.5.

“It was the longest week of our lives,” Altus coach Linda Wiginton said. “My assistant coach and I were pretty concerned because stress uses a lot of energy. The girls kinda struggled this week, but the boys rallied saying they were going to win it for Ethan.”

Powers, 17, was a passenger with Kyler Miller, 18, and Adam Wootton, 15, of Navajo, when Miller’s 1994 Honda Accord left the roadway for an unknown reason. His car struck a culvert, and he and the two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.

Powers wasn’t expected to place for a medal, but he would have been there as the motivator that he was known as around the school and community.

“Nothing in life ever got him down,” Altus senior Daniel Brown said. “Nothing defeated him, even if he lost physically. To him, he was always winning. That’s just something I always envied of him because it’s easy for me to get beaten down, but for him he was invincible in his heart.”

Altus won four events, including two relays. The Bulldogs opened the meet by setting a state record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:39.91, passing the 2010 Altus team’s mark of 1:41.00.

“I was thinking of him,” Altus senior Walker Sacco said. “I got on the blocks and I was ready; Swam a record-breaking relay. He was a motivator when he was alive and he’s a motivator now that he’s passed.”

Altus also won the 200 freestyle relay. Brown won the 50 and 100 freestyle. Sacco finished second in the 50 freestyle.

Each of those victories added momentum to another championship - this one for a fallen friend.


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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