MHS boys swimmers still earning their stripes

Youth dominates the Bobcats, and it will be a process of learning on the go as the season gets kicked off for the Marshalltown boys’ swimming team.

The Bobcats have 22 swimmers out for the sport this season, only three of which are seniors. The best times from the 2015-16 season in the eight individual events graduated. In some cases, the top two or three times from certain events graduated.

“We’re a young squad,” said MHS coach Mike Loupee ahead of today’s double dual against Des Moines Roosevelt and Oskaloosa at Roosevelt. “We have three seniors. One of them is new this season. So, the top-end isn’t real experienced.

“We’re going to have to work developing them on the fly a bit, and figure out how we’re going to fill events.”

Based on last year times, junior Gage Petty and senior Nick Summers are some of the top returners for the Bobcats in 2016-17. Petty had the second-best time on the team in the 200-yard freestyle and in the 100 backstroke. Petty brings a 1 minute, 56.93 time from the 200 free into this year. He’ll look to get the backstroke under a minute, having swam a 1:00.88 last season.

Summers is the top returner in the 100 breaststroke, as well as the 200 individual medley. A 1:16.50 in the breaststroke was his best a year ago, and posted a 2:28.13 in the IM, which was four seconds off of the graduated James Drummer’s time in the event. Drummer also had the best time in the breaststroke, but Summers was less than a second behind him.

Sophomore Ryne Downey is another Bobcat to keep an eye on in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Downey was fourth on the team in both events a year ago, but in the case of the 50, the three guys ahead of him were seniors. He’ll bring a 25.60 into this season. Two seniors were ahead of Downey’s 57.84 in the 100. Petty had a 56.97 in the 100 to be the other Bobcat ahead of Downey.

The other two events Loupee has to look to fill is the 500 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. Cole Podhajsky held the top Bobcat times last season in both events. Sophomore Coert Groff is the top time back in the 500, with a 5:26.40. Sophomore Caleb Summers will look to improve on his 1:04.09 in the fly, which was third on the team.

Loupee has already noted this year’s young squad is a tentative one, an enthusiastic group that is excited to work hard, and has done everything the coaching staff has asked of them. TJ Snyder is a senior, but this is his first year out for swimming. Loupee said the improvement Snyder has made in two weeks of practice is phenomenal.

Roosevelt has about 60 guys out for swimming, and Loupee said the Roughriders are a strong squad. He said the main thing to take away from the season-opener is to note the work ethic of a team such as Roosevelt.

Exchange student and senior Supoch Pinitchan will have to miss the first 90 days of the season. Pinitchan was an exchange student to Marshalltown High School a couple years ago, and decided he wanted to graduate as a Bobcat. Loupee said because of paperwork issues to get Pinitchan to remain at MHS, he’ll have to sit out the first part of the season.

Four of Marshalltown’s first six competitions are at home. Then five of the final six competitions of the season are on the road. The Bobcat home opener will be next Tuesday when Grinnell comes to town.

“It’s always nice to have home meets,” Loupee said. “We have quite a stretch at the end there where we’re going to be on the road a lot. But a swim meet is a swim meet. It’s water, and it’s 25 yards. Whether we travel or we’re at home, each meet will have some different challenges to it depending who you have on the schedule. We’re always preparing and working toward our ultimate goal of having the strongest lineup we can have when the district (state qualifying) meet rolls around.”