Vaunted Valley too much for MHS

Facing one of the state’s best in the season opener, Angie Nelson wasn’t as concerned with how things turned out on the scoreboard.

Instead, the Bobcat girls swim coach was more interested in seeing how her squad stacked up on the stopwatch.

Valley, which claimed third at the state meet last fall, won 9 of 12 events en route to a 117-69 victory over Marshalltown. Though the Bobcats turned in several strong performances – including some improvements upon last year’s best times.

“This was a really good first meet. Not only did we compete really well with Valley – especially in the first half of the meet – but we were able to get good beginning times on some of the girls,” said Nelson.

“I also like to see the girls that you can tell worked hard over the summer start the season faster than they were at the end of the season last year.”

Chloe Kuehner claimed the 200 individual medley in 2 minutes, 24.75 seconds after leading off the victorious 200 medley relay. Kuehner joined sophomore Raechel Hannam and fellow seniors Therese Kuhlman and Leah Barkema to post a time of 1:57.08.

Kuhlman tallied the Bobcats’ other victory, taking the 100 butterfly in 1:06.12.

Hayley Lillibridge and Barkema each earned a pair of individual runner-up finishes as MHS took second in six events overall. Lillibridge finished runner-up in the 200 freestyle (2:09.67) and 500 freestyle (5:55.89), while Barkema followed suit in the 50 freestyle (25.71) and 100 freestyle (56.73). Barkema anchored the 200 freestyle relay to second in 1:47.01, joining forces with Kuehner, Carolina Freir-Vales and Kuhlman. Kuehner’s 1:13.70 in the 100 breaststroke also earned silver.

“Leah had two 24s in her relay splits and an impressive open 100 and open 50,” said Nelson.

“Maggie Carnahan had an excellent night and is starting out really well. She had a double 0 in the open 100 and a couple great relay splits for us.”

Kuehner, Kuhlman, Emily Barske and Hannam also had strong starts according to Nelson, while first-timers DarC Vopava, Jasmine Carmody, Ashley Hala and Brieanna Simpson also left great impressions in their season debut.

“All in all, there were some pretty good times,” said Nelson, who saw several swimmers already ahead of last year’s best times.

“That’s always kind of the gauge – to take a look at where you were last year at the end to where you were now at the beginning.”

The Tigers’ JV squad completed the sweep defeating Marshalltown 126-56.

The Bobcats host Des Moines Hoover Thursday at 6 p.m. and will mix up the lineup a bit to give the swimmers some different experiences.

“That will be a good opportunity to move some girls around and see what else they can do, rather than just what we put them in tonight,” Nelson said.

“We’ll talk a little bit tomorrow about fundamentals and things that make you faster without really having to work much harder. Just tight streamlines off the walls and off the starts and kicking off the walls and starts. Those things are kind of no-brainers but sometimes when we’re racing we forget, because of poor practices. If we can clean some of that stuff up, they’ll make a lot progress pretty quickly.”