Swimmers finish as runners up at State

By Ben Olson 2011

The women’s state swimming and diving meet, held on Nov. 7-8 at the Marshalltown YMCA, proved to be another tough battle for Cedar Falls, who ultimately took runner-up behind West Des Moines Valley.

Cedar Falls splashed right into the lead when senior Bethany Olson repeated her last year’s performance, winning the state diving title. Sophomore Lauren Halloran finished seventh place in the diving competition.

Going into the swimming portion, Cedar Falls led by 12 points over Johnston. The early lead still couldn’t prevent Valley from taking control, though.

The meet started with the 200 medley relay, where Valley won in a time of 1:47.55, an all-American time. The CF squad of freshman Kelsey Abbas, senior Erica Scullin, junior Ashlee Graham and senior Sarah Hedeen finished in fifth place with a time of 1:51.5.

Next in the 200 free, junior Bailey Pons lost a tight battle to Ames swimmer Stephanie Koch, finishing second in 1:53.39.

The 200 IM was a strong race for the Valley Tigers. Danielle Harris of West Des Moines blew the field away and won in state record time of 2:04.24. Freshman Montana Clasby of Cedar Falls made it to the podium in sixth place with a time of 2:14.79.

Next up for the Tigers was the 100 fly, where Graham narrowly missed the podium in seventh place with a time of 1:00.73. Scullin was 18th in 1:02.51.

The biggest upset of the day came in the 500 free. Senior Allison Harding of Valley dropped 16 seconds from her seed time to win in 5:00.33. Pons was a close second with a time of 5:01.8. Freshman Alesha Rettenmeier was 20th in 5:33.23.

“The second place will definitely give me a goal in the future. It gives me something to think about every day, so I can push myself harder at practices,” Pons said.

Afterwards in the 200 free relay, the CF team of Pons, Graham, Hedeen and Abbas was eighth in 1:40.67.

The 100 back saw Abbas again with a top placing. She ended up third with a solid time of 59.55.

Next in the 100 breast, Cedar Falls was a strong force, with Hedeen ninth in a time of 1:08.52, Scullin 11th in 1:09.91 and Clasby 13th in 1:10.62.

In the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, Valley won in 3:35.61. The CF team of Pons, Graham, Clasby and Hedeen was ninth in 3:43.29.

After the points were tallied up, Valley claimed the state championship with 316 points. Cedar Falls was runner-up with 201 points, a huge improvement from 18th place last year.
“I would say our team is happy with second. We performed our best, and to be able to take something home is an accomplishment,” Pons said.

Coach Richard Marcussen also said he felt the day had a good outcome.

“That was definitely quite a jump in one year. I was happy with the efforts, and there were some improvements. We had a lot of first-timers dealing with the stress and pressure. They swam a little tight,” Marcussen said.

New swimsuit technology played a role at the meet as well. Aside from the usual Fastskin suits meant for end-of-season meets, many girls were wearing Speedo’s new LZR Racer suit, which runs near $600. Dozens of world records have been set in this suit, which raises questions as to whether it should be worn at a local high school meet.

“It probably wasn’t the best, or fair thing, but you can’t exactly ban them from state because parents could afford an expensive suit,” Pons said.

The debate on suits will continue, but it doesn’t override one of Cedar Falls’ strongest comebacks in the past few years.

“I think a lot of coaches would like to be in the position I’m in now with the team,” Marcussen said.

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