Bobcat trio represents Marshalltown girls in hometown state meet
Senior Zoe Beals is going out with a bang in her final season on the Marshalltown girls swimming and diving team.
Beals was the lone state qualifier for the Bobcat swimmers, joining divers Alli and Sami Trowbridge at the Iowa Girls High School State Swimming and Diving Championships this weekend at the Linda Bloom Natatorium at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.
She enters the state meet as one of the at-large qualifiers in the 50-yard freestyle, her first time back at state since her sophomore season.
Beals said earning this final trip to state is almost a dream come true, considering she started her career swimming at the Marshalltown Y.
“It’s amazing, especially since this is my senior year,” Beals said before practice on Wednesday. “It’s pretty crazy to be able to get one last shot of possibly breaking that record, which I’ve been trying to do since my freshman year. I started swimming in that pool and I will be ending swimming in that pool, which is pretty cool to think about.”
This is Beals’ third time at state, as she swam in four events in 2015 — including the 50 free — and two events her freshman season.
MHS head coach Angie Nelson said Beals has been a great asset to the team in her time swimming for the Bobcats, as well as the entire Beals family.
“When you have a good athlete come through, you want them to be rewarded with a state berth and it kind of puts a cap on a stellar career,” Nelson said. “I would say, for Zoe, it’s not just a stellar career for her, but if you look at the whole family this is the last of the three girls that will go and swim at state. It’s been a pretty remarkable thing, and I am excited for her to have success as a senior.”
Zoe’s sisters, Mackenzie and Samantha, were perennial state swimmers for Marshalltown prior to Zoe attending MHS. Zoe said maintaining that family tradition of Bobcats girls swimming has been an honor, and she hopes to finish that legacy off strong.
“Both of my sisters swam their whole four years and neither one of them swam in college,” she said. “I don’t know if I am going to, but both of them swam at state and in relays, I think they actually swam in a relay together. I watched both of my sisters swim through high school, so that’s pretty cool to see.”
Speaking of siblings competing for Marshalltown, the Trowbridge sisters head into their second-straight state diving meet a year older and a year wiser. Sami finished in sixth place last season and she enters this meet as the 12th seed from her regional score. She said last season’s state meet was a lot of fun and she learned quite a bit on how to approach this meet from it.
“It was a really good experience representing Marshalltown, since I haven’t been here my whole life, and the support of my family, teammates and coaches, that was really great,” Sami said.
Alli enters tied for the 10th seed from her regional score, and she said right now she has a couple of dives that she feels complete confidence in throwing.
“I have two really good dives, my double somersault and my inward one and one half, that I can count on. I have gotten really good at doing those dives,” she said.
Though they are identical siblings, Nelson said their appearance is where their similarities end. When it comes to coaching the two, Nelson said they are completely different in their approaches.
“They are just different girls, I think they probably get grouped together because they look alike and they are sisters,” Nelson said. “They have different work styles, the way they go about their business is completely different.”
Where the two sisters are similar, however, is their desire to improve on where they are currently seeded.
“They don’t want to just be 11th and 12th, the way we are approaching the week for them is figuring out how we can move the list around to pass the first set of cuts, which should be no challenge for them if they dive clean and solid,” Nelson said. “Then it’s looking at not only how do we pass the second round of cuts, but how do we move up into placing and scoring position.”
During these long, 11-dive meets, the girls get a lot downtime, especially considering there are 30 girls who will be competing for the first five dives. Sami said she is good about keeping her mind on the prize while waiting for her next opportunity to impress the judges.
“I listen to some music, picture and visualize my dives a few times and when I go up to the board I try not to think about anything else,” she said. “Just do what I’m supposed to be doing and how I think I should, then I go out and do it.”
Having a year under their belts, both girls said they feel much more confident heading into the state meet.
“I just think that, since I already have a year of experience doing it last year, I know what to do and what it’s like,” Alli said. “I guess the nerves of doing it the first time won’t be there and I can just concentrate on doing well and diving a really great meet.”
Of course, having your sister with you makes things a bit easier too, and Alli said their relationship is so tight that it is just nice to know they are together.
“Sami and I have a really close relationship, so it’s good having her there, if it’s diving or anything else,” she said. “I guess just having her be there is an advantage.”
When it comes to expectations, all three of the girls were quick to say they know the level of competition will be intense, so they are just looking forward to improving where they can.
“I want to drop time, which is hard to do with tapering and swimming in back-to-back big meets,” Beals said. “You only have a week to prepare for something that can make or break you in a way. If you have the determination and the will power and fight for it when racing those other girls, then hey, you see what happens.”
“I’m not really focused on what place I get, I just want to get a higher score and the experience is nice,” Sami said. “Hopefully I can do it again next year.”
From a coaching standpoint, Nelson agreed with with her athletes’ thoughts, saying she just wants them all to go out and perform their best.
“I would like to see Zoe cut some more time and I would like to see her down in the 24s, which I think is completely realistic for her,” Nelson said. “I would like to see her swim somewhere between a 24 and where she was at during regionals.
“For our divers, I would like to see them improve their score, but knowing that’s kind of subjective I would like to see them improve their placing,” Nelson continued. “We talk a bit about what they can control, they can control how they dive and not how everyone else dives or how the judges are going to score. All you can do is control what you’ve got and what’s going on with your list.”
The diving portion of the Iowa Girls High School State Swimming and Diving Championships is set to start on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Marshalltown Y, while the swimming portion will start at noon on Saturday.