Bobcats thrash Indianola on Senior Night
A 1-2 finish in the first event — a relay race, no less — was the perfect precursor to the Senior Night performance that followed for the Marshalltown boys’ swimming team.
Expecting a back-and-forth battle that would come down to the last leg of the final relay, the Bobcats sunk Indianola with an early tidal wave that instead resulted in a runaway win for host Marshalltown.
The Bobcats claimed titles in all three relays and four individual events, while also outscoring the visiting Indians in two of the other four races, to close the home portion of their schedule with a dominant 98-72 triumph and a 7-4 dual-meet record.
Gage Petty, one of four MHS seniors on the squad, won the 100-yard backstroke and was on both victorious freestyle relays in his final home meet.
“Tonight I was pretty nervous because I heard Indianola was [ranked] about where we’re at,” he said. “We were talking before the meet that everybody needs to give it their all, we all need to get our best times, and to race the guy next to you and be sure you because it’s going to come down to the wire.
“We actually did a lot better than I think we thought we were going to do.”
Bobcat head coach Mike Loupee said he and assistant coach Sam Backstrom ran the numbers over and over again, coming up with a meet that had the potential to be tied with one race remaining. By the time the 400 freestyle relay swimmers climbed onto the blocks, the outcome had long since been secured.
“That means the guys were focused and were excited to swim, and for the most part this season they have competed very well and they stepped up and did that tonight,” said Loupee. “Our district guys are tired, so to get  lifetime-bests and  season-best times as physically worn down as they are is very encouraging for coach Backstrom and I.”
Carson Beals captured two individual titles with his wins in the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle, but it was the 1-2 finish for the Bobcats in the 200 medley relay that set the tone for the evening.
The first MHS quartet of Jacob Eberle, Blaine Gunderson, Caleb Summers and Brad Barkema won in a combined time of 1 minute, 51.99 seconds, while the second group consisting of Tyler Downey, Brock Keeler, Caleb Jones and David Wahl went 1:59.55 for the runner-up spot.
Right out of the chute, MHS had a 12-2 lead on Indianola.
“That got everybody excited and that was not something we were expecting,” said Loupee.
In the next event, Indianola’s Jaxson Mahlstadt finished in front in the 200 freestyle, but he was chased to the wall by a trio of Bobcats. Even though the Indians scored first-place points, Marshalltown actually outscored them thanks to their depth. The same thing happened later in the 100 breaststroke, when Gunderson, Wahl and Keeler came in behind Collin Geurts.
The latter occurance left Marshalltown with a 90-66 lead going into the 400 freestyle relay, which the Bobcats went ahead and won anyway. Beals, Nash Perisho, Petty and Ryne Downey clocked in at 3:26.44 to put a exclamation point on the final home triumph for Petty and fellow seniors Barkema, Lance Ingram and Chris Streets.
“It’s sad that I’m not going to be able to swim with these guys anymore but I plan on coming back and watching them because I really like watching them swim,” said Petty. “Tonight was really gratifying because it means we all swam really good.”
“Before the meet we talked about the fact that even though you swim for four years, you’re on four very different teams and that tonight this Senior Night meet is going to be a close meet,” Loupee said. “These are the kinds of opportunities that you rarely get that you’re going to remember for a lifetime. You may not remember your times or the score, but you’re going to remember the meet itself.
“We told them this was the last time you guys will be together as a team so make it something you’re going to carry for the rest of your life, and they did that.”
The Bobcats now have more than a week and a half off before heading to Ankeny on Feb. 3 for the district meet that includes CIML powerhouses Ames, Ankeny and Waukee among others.
“They guys are tired but they’re also excited because they know taper is coming,” Loupee said. “For 13 weeks we have been physically pounding them — they’re tired, they’re sore, the coaches ask them for more all the time and they give it. This has been a great team to coach, they have never whined or complained about morning workouts or yardage. They may roll their eyes, but they know it’s going to make them better, they believe in what we do and they know they’re going to swim fast.
“I’m excited about the opportunity we have at districts. This has been a fun team, we hope we get some events in and get back to the state meet. It’s been a couple of years and that’s not what our program has been and the guys know that. We’ve got a couple of seniors that haven’t been [to state] so this is their last shot, and we’ll hope it all comes together a week from Saturday.”
Marshalltown 98, Indianola 72
(Champion plus MHS placewinners)
200 MEDLEY RELAY — 1. MHS (Eberle, Gunderson, Summers, Barkema) 1:51.99; 2. MHS (T.Downey, Keeler, Jones, Wahl) 1:59.55.
200 FREESTYLE — 1. Jaxson Mahlstadt, IND, 1:53.32; 2. Gage Petty, MHS, 1:56.56; 3. Nash Perisho, MHS, 1:57.93; 4. Chris Streets, MHS, 2:05.59.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY — 1. Carson Beals, MHS, 2:14.83; 4. Blaine Gunderson, MHS, 2:25.52.
50 FREESTYLE — 1. Ryne Downey, MHS, 23.10; 3. Brad Barkema, MHS, 24.75; 5. David Wahl, MHS, 25.45.
100 BUTTERFLY — 1. Mahlstadt, IND, 57.05; 2. Caleb Summers, MHS, 58.43; 4. Perisho, MHS, 1:02.51.
100 FREESTYLE — 1. Beals, MHS, 51.66; 2. R.Downey, MHS, 51.93; 5. Barkema, MHS, 55.46.
500 FREESTYLE — 1. Brad LaGrange, IND, 5:29.19; 2. Streets, MHS, 5:35.87; 4. T.Downey, MHS, 5:47.23.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. MHS (Beals, Barkema, Petty, R.Downey) 1:33.19.
100 BACKSTROKE — 1. Petty, MHS, 59.42; 2. Summers, MHS, 1:02.95; 5. Jacob Eberle, MHS, 1:06.14.
100 BREASTSTROKE — 1. Collin Geurts, IND, 1:10.92; 2. Gunderson, MHS, 1:13.73; 3. Wahl, MHS, 1:14.47; 4. Brock Keeler, MHS, 1:17.05.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. MHS (Beals, Perisho, Petty, R.Downey) 3:26.44.