Aquagirls capture second straight NCIC title
DECORAH — Winning seven of 11 swimming events, Newton/Colfax-Mingo/Pella’s Aquagirls controlled their own destiny in the pool Saturday at the North Central Iowa Conference swim meet. They were the defending conference champions.
NCMP’s Aquagirls are still the NCIC champions. They captured their second straight conference swimming championship in the new pool at Luther College in Decorah.
NCMP finished with 410 points to take first place with Decorah scoring 326 points. Boone was third with 246, followed by Charles City with 129 points, Grinnell with 114, Williamsburg with 84 and Vinton/Union with 71.
The Aquagirls have two repeat individual NCIC champions in junior Hannah Scotton in the 100-yard butterfly and sophomore Samantha Hedrick in the 100-yard freestyle. The NCMP repeated as conference champions in the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relay races.
“We headed up to Decorah with the goal of defending our conference title, and we came out victorious at the finish,” said Sarah Patterson, NCMP’s head coach. “This meet is not just about a single day, but more about bringing everyone in for a final team effort. It’s the culmination of a season of hard work, camaraderie, and pushing our limits. For the junior varsity swimmers and some varsity swimmers, it was their last competition, as the regional meet is limited to three individual entries and one relay.”
NCMP senior Emily Forsyth was named as an academic all-conference swimmer. The top three placers in each individual event receive All-NCIC honors and the top two placers in relay races earn all-conference honors. Three medals are awarded in each individual event and two in the relay races.
Every single girl that swam individual events scored for the team. You can’t ask for better than that, and quite a few of the races saw three Aquagirls up on the podium,” Patterson said. Patterson and assistant coach Chris Forsyth were named NCIC Coaches of the Year for the second straight season.
The Aquagirls, as they did last year, had to come from behind because of no diving-event points. They started piling up the points quickly once the swimming events began.
In the opening swim event — the 200 medley relay — the foursome of sophomores Sydney Jenkins, and Hannah Rhoads, Scotton and junior Sara Martin blazed through the water for a first-place finish in 1 minute, 57.25 seconds. Jenkins and Scotton were on last year’s championship relay team.
NCMP’s “B” team of junior Kira Hanson, sophomore Sierra Griffith and freshmen Emily Miller and Sarah Prendergast placed fourth in 2:01.86. Patterson said that was the fastest “B” medley relay time the team has recorded in 20 years of the program.
“Our C team of Katherine Thorpe, Brooke Hamand, Madeline Wellik, and Paige Reed placed ninth, beating four other team’s B relays, and one team’s A relay,” Patterson said.
“Senior Paige Reed had the split of a lifetime, going a 27.51. She had an amazing meet, also swimming a season-best time of 1:02.95 in the 100 freestyle, placing first in the junior varsity division of 42 swimmers. She also won the junior varsity division’s 50 free with a time of 28.59, again defeating the field of 42 other swimmers.”
Hedrick earned her second gold medal of the meet, winning the 200-yard freestyle race in 2:01.98. Junior Rachel Prendergast nabbed the third-place medal in 2:06.94 and sophomore Elizabeth Myers was fifth in the race at 2:12.60.
Martin, who won two individual conference championships and was on two conference championship relays, won the 200-yard individual medley in a personal-best time of 2:21.30. Rhoads took third in 2:26.34 and junior Abby Jolivette had a career-best time of 2:36.85 for eighth place.
Scotton wasn’t able to defend her 50-yard freestyle NCIC title but finished second in 26.07 seconds. Jenkins touched fourth in 26.59 and sophomore Kaelee Knoll was seventh in 27.80 seconds.
Scotton turned right around and won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:01. Miller was right behind her in second place at 1:06.97 and Myers claimed fourth place in 1:08.25.
Hedrick claimed the her second straight 100-yard freestyle conference championship with a winning time of 56 seconds. Rachel Prendergast was fifth in 58.74 seconds.
“Our three girls in the 50 free all were at or near personal-best times. The three in the butterfly race had terrific swims,” Patterson said. “Samantha has been such a force for us not only in the freestyle events, but in pretty much anything she swims. She’s a competitor, and I look forward to seeing her swim in the championship phase of our season.”
Patterson said Sarah Prendergast swam lights out in the 500-yard freestyle (5:45.97), not only placing third, but also dropping nine seconds from her best time. “What a great race. She has a beautiful stroke and has a great sense of pacing — both of which help in the the event we call The Beast,” Patterson added.
Next came the 200-yard freestyle relay with three members of last year’s championship relay leading the way. Martin, Hedrick and Scotton combined with Rhoads to win the event Saturday in 1:45.10. The Aquagirls’ “B” team quartet of Miller, Myers, Forsyth and Sarah Prendergast placed fifth in 1:10.08.
Patterson said the 100-yard backstroke was a fun race to watch. Jenkins posted her season-best time of 1:03.29 to earn the second-place medal. Hanson earned a spot on the podium for fifth place at 1:20.08. Patterson said both swimmers had personal-best split times in the 50-yard backstroke on their respective medley relays to start the meet for NCMP.
The Aquagirls have made the 100-yard breaststroke a dominant final individual event this season. Martin led a 1-2-3 medal sweep for NCMP, winning the race in 1:14.36. Rhoads was a very close second in 1:14.47 and Griffith was third in 1:15.59.
“To know that we have this trio as we head down the homestretch is an amazing feeling. They are all competitive, but modest and gracious at the same time,” Patterson said.
NCMP’s 400-yard relay team was seeded first in the event. Hedrick, Rachel Prendergast, Sarah Prendergast and Jenkins finished second (3:52.07) to “a strong Boone team, which set their school record by six seconds,” Patterson said. The NCMP team of Miller, Myers, Forsyth and Hanson finished fourth in 4:09.10.
The Aquagirls were without senior Carly Colville on Saturday because she tried out for all-state vocal music, Patterson said. Colville will be in the pool for NCMP this coming Saturday in the regional meet at West Des Moines Valley High School.