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Linn-Mar quickly rebuilds to contend for MVC boys’ swimming championship
No. 5-ranked Lions, No. 7 Iowa City West and No. 9 Cedar Falls expected to be part of a close team race this weekend
MARION — Sometimes all an athlete needs is an opportunity, no matter the circumstances.
Look no further than the Linn-Mar boys’ swimming team.
Some who were expected to compete with the Lions this season chose to swim exclusively for their clubs this winter. Linn-Mar Coach Tom Belin said he respected their decision.
Those decisions provided openings for others and they have taken advantage. Entering Saturday’s Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet, Linn-Mar is ranked fifth in the state power rankings.
Belin's team, along with four-time defending MVC champion Iowa City West (ranked seventh), and No. 9 Cedar Falls are expected to be in a tight race for the championship.
Saturday's meet is scheduled for a noon start at the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center.
“The great thing about sports is the opportunity to experiment and fail in finding what works for you,” Belin said.
A pair of seniors, Blake Behrens and Ryan Horsey, along with junior Colin Taylor have been the team leaders for the Lions.
“Blake and Ryan contribute in so many ways,” Belin said. “They are talented swimmers and give incredible flexibility in our lineup.
“Colin Taylor has shown incredible growth from last year. Colin has been a solid performer, but he’s found the zone this year. He will be a significant contributor to our state run.”
Behrens has the state's fourth-best time in 100-yard breaststroke (59.93 seconds). He, along with Taylor, Horsey and freshman Hudson Huberg have the No. 2 time statewide in the 200 freestyle relay (1:27.27). Behrens, Horsey, Huberg and freshman Parker Macho are ranked fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:37.31).
Huberg and Macho have been welcome additions to the Lions. Huberg is fourth statewide in the 100 freestyle (47.43) and fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.83). Macho provides valuable depth and points in several events.
“High school swimming is a team sport, and it takes many to be a successful team,” Belin said. “We talk about taking advantage of your opportunities and this team has done that.
“It’s inspiring watching this team grow into their new roles.”
Saturday's meet could come down to the final event. Coach Byron Butler's West squad is led by junior Holden Carter, who is ranked in the top five in the 100 butterfly (second, 50.58) and the 100 backstroke (fifth, 52.51).
Cedar Falls doesn't have individuals or relays ranked in the top five, but the Tigers are on the cusp in several events and should rack up points with their depth.
City High, ranked No. 12, is led by junior Joe Polyak and senior John Weigel. Both are ranked among the top five in their events.
“There is no dominant team in our conference this year,” Belin said. “It’ll come down to who wants it the most.
“We have a chance to win the meet if we follow through on the little things. The meet could be determined by touching out a competitor. It should be that close of a meet.”