MARION — Iowa City High may have the best individual swimmer competing in Saturday’s Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ meet.
The best team in the meet likely will be the one on the other side of Iowa City.
Coach Byron Butler’s squad from West has been strong from the start of the season. Bolstered by a key transfer and the addition of some talented freshmen, the Trojans are ranked fourth in the latest state power rankings, behind Ankeny, Waukee and West Des Moines Dowling.
City High’s Forrest Frazier is expected to compete in the meet Saturday, set for a 12:30 p.m. start at the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center. The junior, who won two events at last year’s state meet, missed the first half of the season preparing for a junior national meet and has been nursing a minor shoulder injury since.
“He seems pretty healthy,” said City High Coach Zane Hugo. “I am planning on having him defend his MVC title in the 100 breaststroke, among other events.”
West is the prohibitive favorite to take the team title after finishing just behind Cedar Falls last year. The key to success this year for the Trojans is versatility. Due to injuries, Butler has adjusted his lineup.
“We have so many guys who can fill multiple roles,” Butler said. “They have bought into swimming things that might not be their best.”
The most versatile swimmer on the roster is junior James Pinter, who transferred to West after his family moved to Iowa City from La Crosse, Wis. Pinter’s former school in Wisconsin did not have a high school swim team. His experience was limited to a YMCA team before his move.
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“James is a leader in how he acts and what he says to the others,” Butler said. “He is a team-first person and has accepted the role of being Mr. Versatile for us.”
Pinter is ranked second in the state in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles and is in the top six in four other events.
“I have had a hard time picking his events for the end of the year,” Butler said. “He could qualify in seven of the eight events easily and has helped elevate us to another level.”
Junior Izaak Hajek has the state’s best time in the 100 butterfly (50.68 seconds) and is fourth in the 200 individual medley.
“Everything that I said about James’ mentality and attitude applies to Izaak as well,” Butler said. “His fly has been extremely impressive due to huge strength gains in the weight room and the pool. I’m excited to see his performances during championship season.”
Freshman Jordan Christensen, ranked fourth in the 100 breaststroke, leads a talented group of newcomers for West.
City High sophomore Isaac Weigel, who is ranked in the top six in three events, and Linn-Mar freshman Cooper Callahan, among the top six in two events, are some of the other top swimmers in the meet.
“I think every team in our conference has some good top end talent,” Butler said. “In terms of depth for the team title, Linn-Mar, (Cedar Rapids) Washington and Cedar Falls are always tough competitors.”