Bobcats bubble over, beat Dodgers
No. 24 Marshalltown boys’ swimming team upsets No. 13 Fort Dodge in conference dual
The Fort Dodge boys’ swimming team limped into the Marshalltown High School pool without one of its top performers, and the Bobcats pounced on its weakened prey.
“That’s why we swim the meets,” MHS head coach Mike Loupee said following his team’s 94-76 victory over the Dodgers in Thursday’s CIML Iowa Conference dual meet. “We had several guys step up really big and we won some really close races. This is a great win for us.”
And then MHS treated the visiting Dodgers to a soup supper. Loupee said he and Fort Dodge coach Joel Greathouse are close friends, and the two teams showed a great deal of respect toward one another throughout the meet and in the cafeteria afterward.
The Dodgers, listed 11 spots ahead of the Bobcats in the state’s team power rankings, entered the contest without their top sprinter and backstroker in Cole Pearson, who was home sick. Fort Dodge still won six events to Marshalltown’s five, but the Bobcats had more depth and found the competitive edge Loupee had been waiting to see since the holiday break.
“It’s unexpected, but we’ve put in a lot of work,” Loupee said of the win. “The one thing that (assistant) coach (Sam) Backstrom and I are probably the most pleased with is that tonight the kids came out with some excitement and some emotion and some fire.
“Tonight we swam faster and we also had that fire that we haven’t had for the last two meets and I’ve been scratching my head about why we’ve lacked that — other than that we’ve swam a lot of yards and are pretty tired.”
In pointing toward the Feb. 3 state-qualifying meet at Ankeny, the Bobcats have loaded up on the laps in practice and have lacked the emotion Loupee wants to see from his squad. The times have been improving, he said, but the last two losses have lacked that something extra.
The Bobcats found it against Fort Dodge, firing out of the blocks and staying within striking distance of the Dodgers, 33-29, through the first four events. Nash Perisho’s victory in the 200-yard freestyle provided the early boost, and a 2-3 finish from Ryne Downey and Brad Barkema in the 50 freestyle kept the visitors within arm’s reach.
Downey was narrowly touched out at the wall by Fort Dodge standout Andrew Fierke in spite of a lifetime-best clocking of 22.75 seconds.
“That was an indicator right there that we were swimming kind of hot and we had an opportunity to beat a really quality team,” Loupee said.
Landon Getting of Fort Dodge got the best of the Bobcats’ Caleb Summers — by 11-hundreths of a second — in the 100 butterfly, but a 1-2 sweep from Downey and Carson Beals in the 100 freestyle rallied Marshalltown again.
Fierke cruised to the 500 freestyle triumph, though the Bobcats didn’t lose much ground, and a 1-3 finish in the 200 freestyle gave Marshalltown the lead for good. A lifetime-best opening leg from Beals helped set the tone for Gage Petty, Barkema and Downey as the quartet set a season-best time of 1:33.63 in the win.
Typically outshined in the backstroke and breaststroke events separating the freestyle relays, the Bobcats rose to the challenge of trying to keep the lead and instead expanded it. Petty won the 100 backstroke in 1:00.57, Jacob Eberle lopped three seconds off his lifetime-best to finish second in 1:05.48, Ethan Benscoter dropped two ticks in finishing fourth, and Marshalltown’s lead rose to 10.
Eli Asay gave Fort Dodge a lift by winning the 100 breaststroke, but MHS still outscored the Dodgers in the event as Blaine Gunderson, David Wahl and Brock Keeler each posted lifetime-bests in placing 2-3-4.
“At the second break, going into back[stroke] and breast[stroke], I told the guys these may not be our strongest events but it’s time for you guys to step up, and step up they did,” Loupee said. “Going into those races we were ahead and the kids got excited and swam with some adrenaline and some emotion and it carried us from just hanging in there to actually salting away a win.”
Needing only for one of two relays to finish the race, the Bobcats capped the meet with an exclamation point by winning the 400 freestyle relay with a seven-second cushion. Barkema, Perisho, Summers and Petty, though not Marshalltown’s fastest iteration of the relay, won convincingly with a combined time of 3:35.29.
“We had 21 lifetime-best times and 37 season-bests, that’s solid after the week we had,” Loupee said. “Our guys who are swimming in the district meet are all swimming two times a day and it’s intense work and they’re tired, and to step up and compete and finally show the emotion we’re looking for, this is a good win for us.
“This is something that hopefully will propel us to get Indianola on Senior Night and that’s some great momentum going into the district meet.”
Before closing out the dual meet season next Tuesday at home, the Bobcats go to the CIML Iowa Conference invitational on Saturday at Summit Middle School in Johnston. The other four teams in the league are all ranked ahead of MHS, though so was Fort Dodge.
“We’ve got a brutal conference … but it’ll be a good test coming off tonight to see if they can hold focus for a longer amount of time and hope that we get some good swims,” added Loupee.
Marshalltown 94, Fort Dodge 76
(Champion plus MHS placewinners)
200 MEDLEY RELAY — 1. FD (Getting, Asay, Fierke, Lennon), 1:46.44; 2. MHS (Petty, R.Downey, Summers, Beals), 1:47.70; 3. MHS (Eberle, Gunderson, Orozco, Wahl), 1:58.03.
200 FREESTYLE — 1. Nash Perisho, MHS, 1:59.94; 3. Chris Streets, MHS, 2:06.58; 5. Tyler Downey, MHS, 2:10.43.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY — 1. Getting, FD, 2:14.02; 3. Carson Beals, MHS, 2:17.84; 4. Blaine Gunderson, MHS, 2:21.24.
50 FREESTYLE — 1. Andrew Fierke, FD, 22.72; 2. Ryne Downey, MHS, 22.75; 3. Brad Barkema, MHS, 24.20; 5. Caleb Summers, MHS, 24.60.
100 BUTTERFLY — 1. Getting, FD, 59.10; 2. Summers, MHS, 59.21; 3. Perisho, MHS, 1:05.60.
100 FREESTYLE — 1. R. Downey, MHS, 51.76; 2. Beals, MHS, 52.14; 5. Barkema, MHS, 55.45.
500 FREESTYLE — 1. Fierke, FD, 4:50.25; 2. Streets, MHS, 5:34.05; 4. T. Downey 5:49.93.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. MHS (Beals, Petty, Barkema, R.Downey), 1:33.63; 3. MHS (Wahl, Perisho, Gunderson, Streets), 1:41.93.
100 BACKSTROKE — 1. Gage Petty, MHS, 1:00.57; 2. Jacob Eberle, MHS, 1:05.48; 4. Ethan Benscoter, MHS, 1:10.01.
100 BREASTSTROKE — 1. Eli Asay, FD, 1:06.31; 2. Gunderson, MHS, 1:11.00; 3. David Wahl, MHS, 1:13.56; 4. Brock Keeler, MHS, 1:16.05.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. MHS (Barkema, Perisho, Summers, Petty), 3:35.29; 3. MHS (Streets, T.Downey, Eberle, Jones), 3:59.21.