116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — The championship season for boys’ swimming will start and finish at the same venue for Mississippi Valley Conference schools, thanks to an inquiry from Iowa City West athletics director Craig Huegel.
Saturday's MVC Super Meet was originally scheduled to be held at the Coralville Rec Center pool, which serves as West's home pool, but has limited space for swimmers and spectators.
That led Huegel to check on the availability of the University of Iowa’s Campus Recreation & Wellness Center (CRWC) pool.
“I know we talked about having it at Iowa because the Coralville Rec Center has limited space and Iowa is being used for the state meet,” said West Coach Byron Butler. “Craig made it happen.”
Huegel put in a call to Emily Downes, associate director of aquatics at the CRWC.
“She was able to carve out the space for us in their schedules to do this,” Huegel said. “We hosted the girls’ MVC Super Meet there a few years ago, and it worked out well to do that.”
The move not only allows plenty of room for spectators and deck space for competitors, it gives the swimmers the opportunity to compete in the same venue that will host the state meet on Feb. 11-12.
Butler said the move should allow for some fast times and also give swimmers a taste of the state-meet atmosphere.
“One of the main reasons we wanted it there was the quality of the facility,” Butler said. “It also lets us all have a first run at the pool before the state meet.”
Due to COVID-19 protocols, there was no MVC meet last season. The conference opted for four smaller meets to limit numbers of competitors and fans in any one location.
All 10 teams are back in one location this year. It will likely be a two-team race for the title. West is ranked No. 2 and Linn-Mar fourth in the latest power rankings. The Trojans defeated the Lions, 96-74, in a dual meet last week. The teams also came together at the Linn-Mar Invitational on Jan. 8 where West was second to defending state champion Waukee and Linn-Mar took fourth.
Both teams have strong top-end talent. The Lions are led by seniors Aiden Carstensen and Cooper Callahan, along with junior Ian Steffen. West counters with seniors Kirk Brotherton and Jordan Christensen and sophomore Holden Carter.
Those swimmers are the known commodities. The difference makers when it comes to the postseason often are the next-level swimmers who provide crucial team points.
“It's all about building at this time of the year,” said Linn-Mar Coach Tom Belin. “That's part of the fun of it. This is the time where those next-level guys can make that next step up and make a difference.”
The MVC meet, which will start at noon, is the first of three big meets in the next four weeks. District meets will be held Feb. 5 with state the following weekend.
“We've had some interruptions to our training from illness, injury, and weather,” Butler said, “but I think every team has had that this year. We are looking a bit healthier heading into championship season.”