The big names already have punched their tickets to state.
With the change to swimmers in individual events being able to post state qualifying times during the regular season in 2018, the top girls in Iowa have a guaranteed spot in the state meet as long as they swim and complete the event at the regional meet.
Those standards have been reached by several swimmers, many in multiple events. However, the six regional meets scheduled for this week still will determine a majority of the 32 spots in each event for next week’s state meet at Marshalltown.
Gazette-area schools have been placed in two regionals. Iowa City West and Iowa City High will be swimming at Linn-Mar while Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy have been assigned to the Grinnell regional. Diving competition is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday with the swimming events to start at noon Saturday.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Decorah, Keokuk, Tipton, Vinton-Shellsburg and Williamsburg will join the Iowa City schools at Linn-Mar.
West enters the meet No. 3 in power rankings behind West Des Moines Dowling and Ames.
Coach Byron Butler’s team has two of Iowa’s best in junior Aurora Roghair and sophomore Scarlet Martin. They already have qualified for state in multiple events. Roghair has the state’s top times in both the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.97) and 500 free (4:57.35). Martin is the state leader in the 100 butterfly (54.86) and 200 individual medley (2:04.95). West’s 400 free relay (3:33.63) also leads the state.
Butler’s plan for his standouts is simple.
“I am going to place them in the events they have the best shot of winning a state title in,” he said.
However, there is plenty more to West than Roghair and Martin. Senior Lily Ernst has been a strong performer in her own right and several other underclassmen have shown improvement.
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“I have talked to the team repeatedly about taking the next step,” Butler said. “To us that means not being content with simply making the state meet, but wanting to score at state.
“I think Jenny Geng, Olivia Taeger, Ella Hochstetler, Jade Roghair, Lauren Trent, Sam Klein, Austyn Goodale and Ainsley Young all fall into that category. Many others have a good shot at qualifying (for state).”
Aurora Roghair likes where West sits entering the regional meet.
“We are excited (about regionals),” she said. “We are posting really good times and I think we are in a good position.”
The other potential state champion at the Linn-Mar regional meet comes from the host school. Freshman Hayley Kimmel has the state’s top time in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.09) and is second to Martin in the 200 IM (2:05.77). The Lions rank fifth in the power rankings.
“Hayley will most likely swim the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke at regionals,” said Lions Coach Bobby Kelley. “These are the two events that she is most competitive, both within the state and nationally. It’s likely that Scarlet will also be in the 200 IM. Both Scarlet and Hayley are super talented athletes and each are strong swimmers in all four strokes.”
After her strong performance at the MVC meet on Oct. 12, Kimmel knew she still had work ahead.
“Practices are really going to be nerve-wracking because I know I have to get better,” she said. “We’re really getting close to the end of the season and there is a lot at stake, so I am getting really excited.”