Ankeny boys’ swimming coach Justin Crouch didn’t know what to expect from his team on Saturday at the state meet.
The Hawks qualified for the meet at Marshalltown in eight events, but they were seeded no higher than ninth in any event. Crouch knew that scoring points would be a challenge–because only the top 12 finishers in each event are placewinners.
“We have an awfully young team,” Crouch said. “We had two seniors who swam at state along with four guys who made the individual events for the first time. You just never know what you’re going to get.”
Ankeny finished in 25th place with four points. The 13th-ranked Hawks scored all of their points in the first event, placing 11th in the 200 medley relay.
The foursome of Jeff Hyler, John Breen, Will Martin and Zach Deaton posted a season-best time of 1:37.88. Hyler swam the opening backstroke leg in a season-best split of 25.02 seconds, then Martin (23.55) and Deaton (21.86) followed with strong efforts on the butterfly and freestyle legs, respectively.
“Breen was a little slow on his (breaststroke) split, but Will and Zach picked him up,” Crouch said. “I thought we had some outstanding exchanges. You can’t win races when you’re sitting on the blocks, so they were aggressive and they went as fast as they could. And that’s all you can ask.”
Ankeny dropped about half a second off its time in both the medley and 200 freestyle relays. The team of Deaton, Hyler, Martin and Brady Suby placed 17th in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:30.96, getting splits between 22.62 and 22.81 from all four swimmers.
The Hawks later ended the meet with an 18th-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. The quartet of Suby, Connor Neils, Hyler and Breen was clocked in 3:23.39.
Hyler swam the third leg in 50.26.
“Our individual events didn’t go as well as we had hoped, but the relays swam extremely well,” Crouch said. “We were very proud of those relays.”
Hyler, a senior, placed 16th in the 100 backstroke in 54.95 seconds. He came the closest to dropping some time in an individual event–he turned in a 54.89 clocking at the district meet on Feb. 7.
“We set some time goals,” Crouch said. “Obviously, in the individuals we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to, but we knew going in that it was going to be hard to drop more time. We had a pretty awesome meet the week before at districts.”
It was the final meet for Hyler and fellow senior Suby. Suby placed 22nd in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.46, then later finished 23rd in the 500 freestyle in 5:03.28.
“I know the meet didn’t go the way that those guys wanted it to, but there are still a lot of great memories that we’ll take from this season,” Crouch said.
Neils, a freshman, placed 16th in the 500 freestyle in 4:56.96. He took 21st in the 200 freestyle in 1:50.90.
Martin, a sophomore, finished 21st in the backstroke in 56.15. Breen, a sophomore, then placed 23rd in the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.02.
Deaton, a junior, earlier placed 23rd in the 50 freestyle. He was clocked in 23.11.
“Our goal for this year for a lot of the guys was just to get into state, and they’re going to benefit from this experience,” Crouch said. “It’s just such a quick turnaround. Our season is so short, and you’ve got to be prepared to go three weeks in a row with the conference, district and state meets. That can be a grueling test for a lot of people.
“I think the young guys are going to use this as a motivational tool to get better for next year,” he added.
No. 1 Iowa City West easily captured its second straight title. The Trojans won seven of the 11 events, set a pair of state records and racked up 189 points–49 more than No. 2 Cedar Rapids Washington.