Bobcats’ banner day sends six to state

JOHNSTON – Marshalltown senior Sam Carter and junior Blair Van Staalduine had banner days in the pool at the district meet Saturday.

Carter swam his way to four lifetime bests and had a pair of blazing fast splits in two relays, while Van Staalduine emerged as a state qualifier in two of the faster events on the board.

Both Bobcats will be in four events at next weekend’s Iowa State High School State Swimming Championships and Marshalltown advanced six entries in all while finishing in fourth place in the team standings.

The Bobcats ended up with 108 points and trailed only three programs who are currently planted in the top five of the latest power rankings. Top-ranked Dowling Catholic (308) withstood a strong challenge from host Johnston (297), beating the Dragons by 11 points, while Waukee was third with 268 points.

“We had lifetime bests in all but two of our swims,” said Marshalltown coach Mike Loupee. “There are 36 swims in a varsity district lineup and we had 33 lifetime bests. You can’t ask for anything better than that. There were some great time drops across the board so we are very pleased.

“This was an extremely fast district. Those swimmers from those top three teams are usually in the top nine, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the middle-level teams to score points. So the fact that we scored in the triple digits is significant for us.”

Carter, now a three-time state qualifier, had never swam in more than one event at the state meet before. He will be among the state’s best in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 butterfly individually and will team up with Van Staalduine and three other Bobcats in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

“I think the times were right there and it was a good day,” said Carter after the meet but before he knew if he had made it into state. “I dropped time in all my events. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“It’s always really nice when you can go to state, especially since the meet is in my hometown. I always enjoy the meet. And to be in the meet in more events than normal is a bonus.”

Carter finished the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 47.03 seconds and was third overall in the district. He’ll be in the fast heat at the state meet as he was eighth overall among all six districts. His 100 butterfly time was clocked at 54.48 and was good for fifth overall.

Loupee also pointed out that Carter’s splits in the two freestyle relays were the second and third fastest splits in the entire district. Carter has never broken 50 seconds in his 400 freestyle relay split but hit the wall in 47.69 Saturday.

“Sam had a day of days and one that he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life,” Loupee said. “He has done everything a coach could ask for. If you could have a team full of Sam Carters, you’d be in the top two or three every year. He has a quiet confidence that as a coach I am proud of. I try to get our young men to let our actions speak and not do all the talking. Sam is an outstanding example of a quality, class young man that lets his actions speak for themselves.”

Loupee didn’t sell the effort of Van Staalduine short. The Bobcat junior was in two of the toughest events in the district and walked onto the podium in both.

He was clocked at 22.22 in the 50 freestyle, which was good for fourth and then finished sixth from the third heat in the 100 freestyle with a time of 49.50.

“The 50 and 100 freestyle times were insane, and for Blair to advance to state in those two events is an incredible accomplishment,” Loupee said. “He is going to state in the 100 and wasn’t even in the fast heat at his own district. That is how fast our district was today.”

Teaming with Carter and Van Staalduine in the 200 freestyle relay was Daniel Lothe and Jack Greene. That foursome hit the wall in fifth with a time of 1:31.48. The 400 freestyle relay team included Carter, Van Staalduine, Lothe and Hunter Barnard. That group was fourth with a time of 3:24.61.

The top six finishers get to walk the podium and the top 12 finishers score team points. The only other Bobcat to finish in the top 10 in any event was Cole Podhajsky, and he was 10th in the 100 butterfly and 11th in the 500 freestyle.

Barnard was 12th in the 200 freestyle, Ryan Hass took 12th in the 200 individual medley, Colton Hanke finished 12th in the 100 fly, Lothe was 12th in the 500 freestyle and Luke Severson ended up 12th in the 100 backstroke.

“This is probably one of the better district tapers we have had in a number of years and it might be the best one we have ever had,” Loupee said. “That was exciting to see. We were focused and swam real well through the whole day.”

Dowling, Johnston and Waukee were up front in most of the events.

District champion Dowling had two wins, seven runner-ups and four third-place finishes and was 2-3-6 in the 200 IM, 1-2 in the butterfly and 2-3-5 in the breaststroke.

Johnston won six events and had two runner-up finishes, while taking the top two spots in the 100 freestyle and winning both freestyle relays.

Waukee scored two wins, two runner-up finishes and five third-place tallies. The Warriors went 1-3 in the 500 freestyle and 2-3 in the backstroke.

Teams from the Johnston district will be well-represented at the state meet. The average for each event is four teams from each district but five, six and even seven entries from the district will be at state in all but two of the events.

“We were about fourth going in,” said Carter. “But on a day when everyone really moves around, it is good to hold your position. That means we all had a good day.”


Carter swam in the 500 freestyle at state last year and was in the 400 freestyle relay as a sophomore. Van Staalduine was in the 50 freestyle last year and also was a part of the 200 medley relay. He also swam in two relays at the state meet during his freshman season. Finishing behind Marshalltown in the team standings was fifth-place Des Moines East (74), Des Moines Lincoln (73), Des Moines Hoover/North (70) and Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln/Thomas Jefferson (34).