Photo By Danny Wilcox Frazier
Your Prep Sports
The best high school swimmers in the state will gather Saturday to battle for eight individual titles, three relay golds and the always coveted team title.
For the first time in more than a decade those awards will be decided in Iowa City.
The boys state swimming meet returns to Iowa City for the first time since 2004 on Saturday and will be held at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Iowa beginning at Noon.
Here are five storylines to follow on Saturday as swimmers take aim at gold medals and state records.
For the first time in 13 years the top swimmers in the state will converge on Iowa City.
The University of Iowa Fieldhouse in Iowa City played host to the state meet from 1986 to 2004.
For the last 13 seasons the event has been held at the Marshalltown YMCA.
On Saturday the state meet returns to Iowa City and for the first time at the recently constructed Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
Since opening in 2010 the home of the University of Iowa swimming program has already hosted a Big Ten and NCAA Championship event.
Now it will host a state meet for the first time as West High and Linn-Mar team up to host the event.
“It’s an excellent facility, it was built for fast swimming it has a lot amenities that a lot of pools don’t have,” City High coach Zane Hugo said. “The starting blocks were designed for fast relay starts, fast starts, everything there is built to be fast.
A year ago Waukee joined Muscatine and West High as the third team since 2011 to win back-to-back titles.
The Warriors scored 259 points, the most for a team since 1989 and won the title by 93.5 points over runner-up Cedar Rapids Washington.
Don’t expect that kind of gap in the team race this season.
Ankeny, Ames, West Des Moines Valley and Bettendorf all rank among the teams trying to keep Waukee from a third consecutive title.
The state meet experience can be slightly overwhelming for first-time competitors.
City High’s Forrest Frazier and Louis Stephan and West High’s Izaak Hajek highlight a strong group of area sophomores that return to the state meet after getting their first look at the state’s biggest stage last season as freshman.
Frazier made the biggest splash in his debut a year ago with a pair of top-10 finishes and brings a pair of state-best qualifying times into the meet on Saturday.
The area sophomore class is stocked full of strong swimmers.
Hajek was a four-event state participant last season, placing 13th in the 100 fly and will compete in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly and two relays this season.
Stephan got his feet wet at state a year ago and enters Saturday with the fifth fastest qualifying time in the 200 IM.
“Hopefully the experience from last year is helpful,” Stephan said. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to having some fast swims.”
West High has a pair of other sophomore qualifiers in Tate Happel (500 freestyle) and Michael Kimball (400 freestyle relay)
Frazier had a solid debut last season with a pair of top-10 individual finishes including a third-place performance in the backstroke.
The City High sophomore has his sights set significantly higher this season and with good reason.
Frazier enters with the fastest time in the state this season in both the 100 butterfly (50.59) and 100 breaststroke (56.06).
His time in the 100 breaststroke is less than half a second off the state record time of 55.69 set by Sean Osborne of Cedar Falls back in 2003.
If you had targeted the longest race in the 11-event schedule as a chance to stretch your legs scrap that plan and stay in your seat.
City High and West High each have a pair of distance standouts capable of pushing for a podium finish in the 500 freestyle.
West High senior Lane Griffis was 11th in the event at the state meet last season and has the 14th fastest time in the state in the event this season.
City High freshman Isaac Weigel brings the sixth fastest qualifying time to the state meet after posting a 4:48.6 at districts last weekend.