Bobcats take podium in 200 freestyle relay, break school record in 400 free relay
IOWA CITY — The body language on the Marshalltown boys swimming team waned a bit after the Bobcats finished their individual races at the Iowa High School Boys State Swimming Championships on Saturday.
The MHS boys hadn’t competed badly by any means, but in their first seven races they hadn’t achieved the heights they had hoped for. There were still the two relays left on the docket, however, so the Bobcats had two more chances to put their stamp on the state meet.
It started with the 200-yard freestyle relay, which Marshalltown was seeded highest out of its nine entrants. The team of Ryne Downey, Nash Perisho, Marcus Barker and Carson Beals maintained their sixth-seeding by swimming a time of 1 minute, 27.78 seconds, which secured sixth place for them but it was just three hundredths of a second shy of once again breaking the school record, which those four had set at the district meet a week ago.
Then came the 400 freestyle relay, which the MHS boys were half a second shy of breaking the school record in last week’s district meet. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, however, as Perisho, Barker, Downey and Beals this time swam a 3:14.94 to finish ninth and break the old Bobcat record of 3:15.14 set back in 2004.
With placing sixth and ninth in their final two relays, the MHS boys jumped from the back of the pack all the way to 15th place, finishing with a team score of 47.
Considering his team had its first podium finish since 2011, its first relay podium finish since 2008 and its best overall team placing since 2011, head coach Mike Loupee said his boys performed beyond his expectations.
“Our guys were excited and I think the first part of the meet and the first few swims, the moment got to our young guys a little bit. We talked about it and focused, it’s a long day,” Loupee said. “To be on the podium for the first time in a lot of years, and then to finish it with a school record in the 400 free relay, the kids should feel good about what we accomplished today.”
Beals, who anchored both relay teams, said he felt more than good about what his team did.
“It was amazing, the best feeling ever,” Beals said of standing on the podium for the first time in his career. “It would have been better obviously if we were up a couple of steps, but it was amazing. First time we’ve had that happen in a couple of years and the first time it’s happened to me so it feels great.”
Beals was the lone individual to place as well, as he swam a lifetime best 1:46.04 in the 200 freestyle relay to finish in 14th and score three points for his squad.
Other than Beals, the rest of the individual races competed right around their same times from districts. Bryce Edens swam a 1:48.88 in the 200 freestyle to place 22nd, and Perisho swam a 1:47.45 to finish in 17th, one place out of scoring.
It was a similar story in the 100 butterfly for Perisho, as he swam a 55.52 to place 22nd. Loupee said Perisho, competing as an individual for the first time at the state meet, got caught up in the moment a bit too much, but he made up for it with how he swam in the relays.
“Nash led it off and was maybe four tenths slower than he was last Saturday, but he had us in the race,” Loupee said of Perisho’s performance in the record-setting 400 free relay. “His job as the leadoff guys is to swim with those lead guys and have us in the race, and he did his job.”
In the 100 freestyle, Downey got his first crack at an individual race at state but he just missed placing by finishing 17th with a 48.41, while Beals followed in 19th with a 48.47.
Instead of hanging his head about his time, Downey just put his head down and went to work two races later, as he led off the 200 free relay with a 21.86 to put his team in a good position to get on the podium.
Downey, the lone senior competing at state, said he was happy to put his name up on the record board a second time, but he was really hoping to break the 50 freestyle individual record as well.
“Getting both the relay records was incredible,” Downey said. “I can’t complain about a 21, obviously I would have like to be a low 21 and not a high 21. I stayed with the pack and I beat out a lot of people, so that was good to help get my team a little bit of a lead.”
Downey’s 21.86 was just half a second shy of breaking Brian Bacon’s school record of 21.33.
Loupee said even without the individual record, Downey’s contributions to the team throughout his tenure with the Bobcats won’t be forgotten any time soon.
“If you look at his career as a freshman, he didn’t stand out on anybody’s radar. He was a very average swimmer,” Loupee said of Downey, who he admitted was a swimmer he had grown close with over the years. “Swimming is what he loves, he dedicated himself to working and improving and he did that steadily each year and wound up making himself one of the elite sprinters in the state. We are very proud of him, it’s one of those thing where it’s time to move him on but he will certainly be missed.”
The team that swam the 200 freestyle relay in the district meet remained the same, but there was a change in the 400 free relay that Loupee thinks put them over the edge.
“Marcus Barker we put on that relay after districts and you have a freshmen on that stage with that kind of pressure, and Marcus stepped up and went 49,” Loupee said. “In that leg he was probably a full second faster than he was last week. Ryne Downey and Carson Beals, they literally swam nearly-identical times as they did last Saturday, so that school record the difference is probably on a freshman. Marcus held up to the moment well.”
Even with Barker making a difference, when he approached his final 25 yards he was the relay team was near the back of the pack. That was by design, however, as Downey and Beals still hadn’t swam yet, and Downey said the pair knew they could get back in the race.
“Carson and I were going to be the fastest ones in the back of the relay so we both looked at each other and both knew we were going to have to catch up a lot,” Downey said. “I just hit the water and on my first flip-turn I saw they were a push-off ahead of me, so I kept going and by my second turn I saw I was getting closer and by the time I got out of my third turn I was right with them. On my last 25 I tried to pull ahead as much as I could.”
That 400 freestyle relay was the first time all day that the Bobcats had really let loose and swam like there was no pressure, partially why they swam well enough to set a new MHS record. Loupee said the reason that happened was because of how they performed in the 200 free relay to end on the podium.
“Holding our time and getting on the podium meant the world to those kids. We haven’t had a relay on the podium in at least 12 years, and it was probably a cross between some excitement and some relief,” he said. “With that pressure they held up to the moment, they maintained their time and did what they needed to do to get a medal and stand on the podium, and we are very proud of them.”
In the past two years, the Bobcats have gone from missing the state meet entirely, to having one placer a year ago, to finishing in 15th out of 34 scoring teams and getting two top-10 finishes, one of which ended on the podium.
Loupee said that growth will only continue with four of the five state competitors from this season returning to the pool for MHS next season.
“I hope it bodes nothing but positive for our future,” he said. “The kids know what to expect, we had a little bit bigger moments than we did last year and we held up to a couple of them and we maybe didn’t hold up as well as we should have in a couple others. It’s an ongoing learning experience and we have smart kids, they will absorb it and process it and listen to their coaches and we will be better next year.”
Beals, who will be a senior leader when the Bobcats return to the water in a year, said he is already looking ahead to what he can achieve in his final season.
“I’m just going to keep going and keep gunning and know what to expect next year,” he said.
Iowa High School Boys State Swimming Championships
At Iowa City
Team Standings — 1. Ankeny 226, 2. Waukee 210, 3. Bettendorf 205.5, 4. Dowling Catholic 195, 5. West Des Moines Valley 164, 6. Linn-Mar 123, 7. Iowa City West 112, 8. Cedar Falls 107, 9. Dubuque Hempstead 99, 10. (tie) Cedar Rapids Washington 87, Sioux City Metro 87, 12. Pleasant Valley 81, 13. Ames 59, 14. Iowa City High 49, 15. Marshalltown 47, 16. Mason City 40, 17. Dubuque Senior 39, 18. Indianola 34, 19. Keokuk 29, 20. (tie) Lewis Central 23, Carroll 23, 22. Decorah 18, 23. Davenport Central 17, 24. (tie) Ottumwa 16, Muscatine 16, 26. Burlington 14, 27. Williamsburg 9, 28. Des Moines Roosevelt 7.5, 29. (tie) Cedar Rapids Kennedy 6, Newton 6, Fort Dodge 6, 32. Southeast Polk 5, 33. Des Moines Lincoln 4, 34. (tie) Spencer 3, Johnston 3.
(Winner plus Marshalltown finisher)
200 MEDLEY RELAY — 1. Dowling Catholic (Chase, Xu, Agnew, Culer) 1:32.67.
200 FREESTYLE — 1. Trent Frandson, Ankeny, 1:37.75; 14. Carson Beals, MHS, 1:46.04; 17. Nash Perisho, MHS, 1:47.45; 22. Bryce Edens, MHS, 1:48.88.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY — 1. Cameron Linder, Waukee, 1:51.11.
50 FREESTYLE — 1. Charlie Bunn, BETT, 20.42.
100 BUTTERFLY — 1. Izaak Hajek, ICW, 49.45; 22. Nash Perisho, MHS, 55.52.
100 FREESTYLE — 1. Charlie Bunn, BETT, 44.94; 17. Ryne Downey, MHS, 48.41; 19. Carson Beals, MHS, 48.47.
500 FREESYTLE — 1. Trent Frandson, Ankeny, 4:23.46; 17. Bryce Edens, MHS, 4:55.04.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. Bettendorf (Ottavianelli, Nickles, Mitvalsky, Bunn) 1:23.56, 6. Marshalltown (Downey, Barker, Perisho, Beals) 1:27.78.
100 BACKSTROKE — 1. Nick Chase, DC, 50.10.
100 BREASTSTROKE — 1. Forrest Frazier, ICH, 55.17.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY — 1. Bettendorf (Ottavianelli, Nickles, Stone, Bunn) 3:05.10, 9. Marshalltown (Perisho, Barker, Downey, Beals) 3:14.94.