Bobcats on cruise control to crush Cedar Rapids Washington

In the home opener with Valley, the Bobcats ran into one of the state’s best.

And for the next-go round, they settled for a split after entertaining an unexpected guest.

Finding the third time to be the charm, the Marshalltown girls swim team cruised past Cedar Rapids Washington, 125-60, to claim its first outright victory of the season.

“I’m really thrilled. We needed a win for our confidence,” said MHS coach Angie Nelson. “Last week we kind of got our hopes dashed. We beat Hoover but we lost to Waukee and that was supposed to be our confidence builder. It was really nice that we could turn around and use this as our confidence builder.”

The Bobcats won 11 of 12 events – despite moving around swimmers into some different races with short recovery times.

“We did that by design, but we also set up a lot of races for our own girls to compete against each other,” Nelson said. “Some of them because they’re vying for spots in relays for future meets, but some of them just because we knew they’d be pretty fun races to watch.”

The Bobcats entertained the home crowd throughout as Leah Barkema and Chloe Kuehner each contributed to three winning races for MHS.

The duo joined forces with Lexie McKown and Ashley Hala in the 200 freestyle relay clocking 1 minute, 50.47 seconds. Barkema and Kuehner later teamed with Melisa Fonseca and Carolina Freir-Vales in the 400 freestyle relay in 4:03.98.

Barkema also topped the 50 freestyle field in 26.47 seconds, before Kuehner pulled away in the 500 freestyle in 5:55.64.

Hayley Lillibridge added solo victories in the 200 freestyle (2:12.56) and 100 backstroke (1:09.12), while Emily Barske, Maggie Carnahan and Freir-Vales each contributed to a pair of wins. The trio teamed with Emily Vest on the victorious 200 medley relay (2:06.62), while Barske also claimed the top spot in the 200 individual medley (2:37.94). Carnahan’s 1:00.35 trumped her competitors in the 100 freestyle.

Other Bobcat winners included Phoebe Lynk in the 1-meter dive (166.30) and Therese Kuhlman in the 100 butterfly (1:06.53), while Logan Eckhardt prevented a clean sweep over the Warriors by taking the 100 breaststroke in 1:14.95. Marshalltown swept the top two positions in eight events overall.

Thursday’s success came at the perfect time for the ‘Cats as they prepare for a challenging week ahead.

“We’re kind of getting to that point in the season where the girls are kind of tired,” said Nelson.

“They’ve been doing really well in the weight room and in the morning workouts. We’ve had all of these heat outs so our afternoon schedule has been up in the air. We just really needed a settle down meet. A meet that was fun and a meet that was a win so that we could walk away feeling really good.”

Marshalltown hits the road to face Mason City Tuesday at 6 p.m., before hosting the Bobcat Invite Sept. 21.

“Mason City is always a tough meet. We only get two entries per event so that takes the depth factor out of it a lot and it’s a tough road trip for us,” said Nelson, who is also concerned about the home invite which falls on the same day as homecoming.

“We need some girls to really step up and put homecoming in the back of their mind and put swimming in the front.”

Saturday’s invite includes Johnston, Ottumwa, Boone, Carroll Community, Lewis Central and Fairfield. Diving starts at 9:30 a.m. and swimming events get underway at 12:30 p.m.

Johnston will be the favorite, while Lewis Central and Carroll Community will also be in the mix, though Nelson said the results can balance out a bit with each team getting only three entries and just one relay that scores per event.

“If we’re on our game and focused, we’ll do well at the invite.”