The Newton boys’ swim team snatched a clear victory out of murky waters last night against Boone. The Cardinals trailed the Toreadors 71-53 heading into the final three events of the meet. Then as senior night began to look bleak for Newton, three of the boys honored before the meet stepped up in epic fashion.
Seniors Matheus Pinto, Luke Norcross and Daniel Maurer finished first, second and third respectively with times of 1:05.42, 1:08.76 and 1:11.31 in the 100-yard backstroke. That surge of confidence resonated through the team and continued into the 100-yard breaststroke in which Senior Cody Maxwell (1:18.91) and Jeff Fitzgerald (1:20.20) took first and second place to notch up another 10 points for the Cardinals.
Suddenly, down just four with the last event being the 400-yard freestyle relay, Newton’s prospects for a long-awaited victory against Boone looked brighter than ever. Senior anchors Josh Smith and Pinto brought home the victory with driving, powerful finishing strokes much to the delight of a raucous cheering section of parents and peers.
“This was so amazing. It’s definitely in the top three meets of my career,” Norcross said. “From start to finish we knew it would be tough … The crowd was great especially because we know there’s a basketball game. We love the support.”
Norcross certainly did his part. In individual events alone he netted the team eight crucial points. He was also part of three relay teams that combined to add an additional 10 points to the Cardinals’ total score.
A soaking wet coach Dave Hook, who was ceremoniously tossed into the pool following the win, beamed with enthusiasm when talking about this victory.
“This was unbelievable, just unbelievable. On Senior Night to do something like this.” Hook said. “We haven’t beaten Boone in a long time and to be down 20 points after the relay then we 1-2 them, 1-2 them and our guys brought it home. It feels great.”
Pinto showed up with another incredibly strong outing. His two individual wins brought the team 12 points that they could not afford to lose. He was also the anchor for two relay wins that added another 16 points to Newton’s score.
“It was such a tough night and it got so close at the end,” Pinto said. “I’m glad I was able to help us get this win and to see all these people cheering helped a lot.”
It’s hard to picture Pinto not swimming at a Division-I college program next year. His times of 54:45 in the 100-yard freestyle and 1:05.42 in the 100-yard backstroke were clear of his nearest competitors by three full seconds. He didn’t seem too particular about where he wanted to go, either.
“I’ve looked just at a couple of schools. Auburn is one and Iowa is another.” Pinto said. “I just want to keep swimming somewhere.”
When it comes down to it, every single point mattered for Newton in this one. Hook emphasized that a big difference in this one was his team’s execution in picking up points on the back end.
“It took every fourth, it took every fifth we had to pull this one out,” Hook said.
Spencer Hook, coach Hook’s son and a recognized senior Thursday night, echoed his father’s sentiment when discussing what it took to come away victorious by saying, “It was such a big night with this being Senior Night and our last home meet of the season. All the little points counted tonight. It gives us a lot of confidence in the meet coming up with Grinnell.”