The Aquagirls had been waiting for Tuesday night since the start of the season.
When it finally arrived, they didn't disappoint.
The Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella swim team hosted fourth-ranked Dowling Catholic Tuesday, and although they suffered their first and only dual loss of the season, the 13th-ranked Aquagirls certainly left the pool with even more confidence than they arrived with.
NCMP pushed the Maroons from start to finish, with Dowling ending up with a 91-79 victory at the Newton Y — which at times was was as loud as a rock concert.
The Aquagirls led Dowling by two points after six events, but the Maroons won the next four — going first and second in two of them — to take the lead and separate themselves for the win. It was the final dual meet of the season for the Aquagirls, who finish it with a mark of 10-1 — believed to be the best record in team history.
Nevertheless, a 12-point loss to a team that took fourth at state last year was something NCMP was thrilled with.
"We gave it absolutely everything we had. I couldn't have asked for more," Aquagirls head coach Sarah Patterson said. "In a few events, we just didn't have enough firepower, and that's the way it is. But top to bottom, we had points in places I didn't anticipate. It was just a good battle and hard-fought meet."
"We did a lot better than I thought we would," added senior Sidney Griffith, who took third in two individual events. "We knew it was going to be hard and we fought. I'm really proud and blessed to be on this team."
NCMP won three of the 11 events, took second in six and third in nine. Two school records were broken, both of which involved sophomore Hannah Scotton. She re-broke her own year-old 100 butterfly record, winning the event in 1 minute, 8.17 seconds. It topped her old mark by .16 seconds. She also was part of the 200 freestyle relay team along with freshman Samantha Hedrick, sophomore Sara Martin and junior Carly Colville, which took second in 1:55.33 and re-broke its own record it set on Sept. 28 (1:55.49).
"She is a very intuitive athlete," Patterson said of Scotton. "She gets very fired up. She's one of many on the team that when a big occasion or high-pressure situation comes up, she handles and excels. You always look for that in an athlete."
It was Senior Night for the Aquagirls, who honored eight such members of the team on a "The Hunger Games" themed night. Rather, they were called "The Aquagirl Games," complete with the slogan, "May the water be ever in your favor."
"It was so cool," Griffith said. "It went by really fast, but it gave me something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Dowling's lineup included junior McKenna Lynch — the state's defending 200 and 500 freestyle champion. Tuesday was business as usual for her as she won the 100 and 200 freestyle, anchored the winning 200 freestyle relay and the runner-up 400 freestyle relay.
Besides Scotton's record-setting 100 freestyle win, NCMP's other two victories came from Hedrick in the 50 freestyle in 28.55 seconds and the 400 freestyle relay team of Colville, sophomore Rachel Prendergast, freshman Sydney Jenkins and Hedrick — which ended the night cruising to a win in 4:12.87.
NCMP started off the meet taking second in the first two events. The 200 medley relay team of the Griffith sisters, Scotton and Jenkins took second in 2:11.23, and then Colville was runner-up in the 200 freestyle in 2:16.94.
Freshman Hannah Rhoads and Sidney Griffith went 2-3 in the 200 IM, and after Hedrick won the 50 freestyle, the Aquagirls trailed by only four points at 33-29.
After the meet paused for NCMP's senior's recognition, the meet resumed with Scotton's win and record in the 100 butterfly, with Colville also narrowly being edged out for second by .42 seconds. That gave the team a 40-38 lead.
The Aquagirls still led by two at 48-46 after Hedrick and Prendergast went 2-3 in the 100 freestyle, but Dowling scored big points in the 400 freestyle by going 1-2 to take the lead at 58-52.
NCMP's 200 freestyle relays took second and third, as did Jenkins and Sidney Griffith in the 100 backstroke, but then the Maroons opened up a 14-point margin by going 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke — going ahead 85-71 to clinch the win.
The Aquagirls ended the meet on a good note by winning the 400 freestyle relay in convincing fashion.
"It would have been nice to come away with a victory, but one of the seniors said it really well. She said, 'It's almost as good as winning — doing this all together.' We really emphasized that," Patterson said.
Patterson went on to comment about the team's eight seniors — which include Sydney Griffith, Nuria Cunado Gutierrez, Krystal Mapes, Olivia Oliver, Sarah Rhoads, Samantha Schwarz, Kora Scotton and Hannah Squire.
"This group of seniors — they're kind of quiet leaders," she said. "Three of them are brand new. (Cunado Gutierrez, Oliver, Rhoads). For those eight to gel together with those three new people was very cool. They've guided the team in a very family-oriented way, and it's been a lot of fun."
The Aquagirls' remaining schedule is all big meets, beginning with the Ram Relays at Southeast Polk on Thursday. NCMP is looking to claim its fourth-straight title there.
"That's a meet that we've won for the past few years and it's really fun," Griffith said. "I think we'll do really well and the girls will have a lot of fun."
The Aquagirls will end a busy week with a Saturday invitational at Marshalltown and then is off until the conference meet in Boone on Oct. 20.