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Cedar Rapids Kennedy unseats Cedar Falls for MVC girls' swimming title

Girls' swimming: Cougars win three of 12 events for first conference title since 2007; Iowa City West surges to third place with three wins

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IOWA CITY — Last year, Cedar Rapids Kennedy came up just short in its bid to unseat Cedar Falls for Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ swimming supremacy.

Now you can call them conference champions.

Senior Jessica Williams started a 200-yard medley relay victory, then added her second MVC backstroke title as the Cougars won the MVC girls’ swimming championships for the first time since 2007 Saturday at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center pool.

“I was nervous because there were a lot of good swimmers here,” Williams said. “There’s always so much competition. I just went out there and swam the best that I could.”

Beginning with senior Jayden Lovell’s diving victory Thursday in Coralville, Kennedy led the meet after every event but one and finished with 325.5 points. Cedar Falls – which had won 23 of the previous 24 MVC titles – was second with 324.

“We’ve had a really close rivalry for the last couple of years, it went back and forth,” Kennedy Coach John Ross said. “The girls knew that it would be close today. This is always a challenging meet physically for everybody. … It’s really about mentally challenging themselves to stay focused and do the best they can.”

The Tigers were led by Olivia Clark, who set an MVC record in the 50-yard freestyle (24.31) and also won the 100 free.

Iowa City West received lifetime-best times in all swims but two for a third-place performance with 297 points.

Junior Alleyna Thomas won the 200 free in 1:58.29 from lane eight, placed third in the 500 despite racing in the second-to-last heat and swam second with Melanie Housenga, Lily Ernst and Elaina Martz for an MVC-record performance of 3:37.61 in the 400 free relay.

“We all came in and we knew how we wanted to swim and we just wanted to do well,” Thomas said. “We knew if we came together and all did our best, we could come out doing really well. It’s not even for ourselves. It was a lot for the team.”

Housenga won the 200 individual medley and placed second in the 500, while Ernst was runner-up in both the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly. Martz was second in the 100 free and third in the 50.

“I’m just proud to see them exceeding their own expectations,” West Coach Byron Butler said. “Talking with a couple of them about what they can do at the end of the season, they just absolutely crushed their goal. Now we can look at what else can we do.”

Kelsey Drake of Linn-Mar claimed titles in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.

MVC GIRLS’ SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Teams – 1. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 325.5; 2. Cedar Falls 324; 3. Iowa City West 297; 4. Dubuque Wahlert 277; 5. Cedar Rapids Washington 234.5; 6. Dubuque Senior 193.5; 7. Linn-Mar 192; 8. Iowa City High 167; 9. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 120; 10. Waterloo 61.5; 11. Dubuque Hempstead 43.

Thursday

At Coralville

(Coralville Recreation Center)

Diving – 1. Jayden Lovell (CRK), 435.25; 2. Andrea Adam (ICH), 411.05; 3. Ellie Shearer (DS), 377.95.

Saturday

At Iowa City

(U of I Campus and Recreation Center)

200 medley relay – 1. C.R. Kennedy (Jessica Williams, Raquel Green, Mackinzee Macho, Darby Manternach), 1:52.50; 2. Dubuque Wahlert (Victoria Michel, Alaina Schmidt, Abbie Montag, Elly Kalb), 1:54.79; 3. C.R. Washington (Ellie Bryant, Caitlin Sievers, Lauren Havertape, Alanna Adkins), 1:55.01.

200 freestyle – 1. Alleyna Thomas (ICW), 1:58.29; 2. Karlie Welbes (DW), 1:58.74; 3. Sammi Hall (CF), 1:58.80;

200 individual medley – 1. Melanie Housenga (ICW), 2:11.86; 2. Lily Ernst (ICW), 2:12.48; 3. Victoria Michel (DW), 2:13.95.

50 freestyle – 1. Olivia Clark (CF), 24.31*; 2. Anna Pfeiffer (DS), 24.95; 3. Elaina Martz (ICW), 25.23.

100 butterfly – 1. Kelsey Drake (LM), 56.55; 2. Lily Ernst (ICW), 59.71; 3. Jessica Williams (CRK), 1:00.75.

100 freestyle – 1. Olivia Clark (CF), 53.44; 2. Elaina Martz (ICW), 54.69; 3. Maddie Bagby (CRK), 54.88.

500 freestyle – 1.Karlie Welbes (DW), 5:14.44; 2. Melanie Housenga (ICW), 5:15.24; 3. Alleyna Thomas (ICW), 5:15.46.

200 freestyle relay – 1. Cedar Falls (Olivia Clark, Ellie Shimp, Grace Considine, Sammi Hall), 1:39.88; 2. I.C. West (Lily Ernst, Elaina Martz, Alleyna Thomas, Melanie Housenga), 1:40.59; 3. C.R. Kennedy (Darby Manternach, Maddie Bagby, Kassidy Lovig, Mackinzee Macho), 1:41.40.

100 backstroke – 1. Jessica Williams (CRK), 58.97; 2. Victoria Michel (DW), 59.47; 3. Sammi Hall (CF), 1:00.95.

100 breaststroke – 1. Kelsey Drake (LM), 1:08.03; 2. Rachel Ding (ICW), 1:11.36; 3. Laura Lorenger (ICH), 1:11.48.

400 freestyle relay – 1. 3. I.C. West (Melanie Housenga, Alleyna Thomas, Lily Ernst, Elaina Martz), 3:37.61*; 2. Cedar Falls (Olivia Clark, Grace Considine, Katherine Wikner, Sammi Hall), 3:39.84; 3. C.R. Kennedy (Sarah Gannon, Maddie Bagby, Jessica Williams, Kassidy Lovig), 3:45.03.

*--MVC record

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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