Nov. 5—JOHNSTON — Winning a regional championship is one of the few guarantees a girls' swimmer has when it comes to clinching a state berth.
A win in any event at a regional meet punches an automatic ticket to the state meet.
The Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella girls' swim team left Summit Middle School with a lot of unknowns on Saturday, but sophomore Tori White knew she was headed to Marshalltown after scoring a victory at the Aquagirls' regional meet.
"Having the reassurance I'm going when I leave here is a good feeling," White said. "And having that ticket is nice, too."
White left the regional meet with her ticket to the state meet, and NCMP added five other at-large entries later in the day as the Aquagirls placed third in the nine-team standings.
Addison Van Maanen
Newton junior Addison Van Maanen clinched a state berth in the 100-yard breaststroke during the regional meet at Summit Middle School in Johnston on Saturday. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
No. 18 NCMP edged 19th-ranked Council Bluffs Lewis Central by four points for third.
Fifth-ranked Johnston won the regional title with 502.5 points, No. 8 West Des Moines Valley was second with 448.5 and the Aquagirls scored 290 in third. Lewis Central (286) and No. 24 Des Moines Lincoln (184) completed the top five.
No. 38 Indianola (149), No. 31 Des Moines Roosevelt (110), No. 49 Council Bluffs Lincoln (49) and No. 52 Centerville (42) finalized the field.
"Today was awesome. It's really cool to see it all come together," NCMP head girls swimming coach Nick Shelton said. "From that first day of practice at Maytag to all those hard sets and all those hard days, the two-a-days and the two-hour practices all showed up here and they killed it today."
The Iowa High School Girls State Swimming and Diving Championships will take place on Friday and Saturday at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA in Marshalltown.
All three NCMP relays advanced to state and sophomore Harper Barton and junior Addison "Madz" Van Maanen joined White as individual qualifiers.
The top six finishers in each event at regionals earn a spot on the podium. The Aquagirls registered nine podium finishes.
Newton junior Alex Riney qualified for the girls' state swim meet in all three relays at the regional meet at Summit Middle School in Johnston on Saturday. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
White won the 100-yard backstroke with a career-best time of 1 minute, 2.01 seconds. Junior Hailey Dickerson was 10th in the event in 1:10.6.
White will be seeded 28th for the state meet. She hopes to get into the 1:01s when she hits the pool later this week.
"I found out last year at our sleepover that I didn't make the cut in the backstroke, so I wanted to avenge myself I guess," White said. "I wanted to prove to myself I could go faster.
"It feels pretty good. A 1:01 would have been better, but it's really close. I feel like I had more of a drive today. I knew I needed to be at my best and winning guaranteed me a spot."
The next best individual finish came from Barton, who was third in the 100 freestyle. Her time of 54.78 seconds clinched an at-large spot.
Junior Peyton Ray was fourth with a time of 55.52 but came up short of a state berth.
The average cutoff time for the 100 freestyle in the past five seasons was 55.94, but it took a 55.43 this season.
"The 100 freestyle was my fastest time and the relays did well," Barton said. "I think I swam scared in the 100 breaststroke. I need to figure out how to swim differently in a yard pool than our meter pool."
Newton junior Izzy Lane advanced to the girls' state swim meet for the first time after qualifying in two relays at the regional meet at Summit Middle School in Johnston on Saturday. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
Barton was in a similar situation as Ray in the 100 breaststroke. Van Maanen locked up an at-large berth in the event as she was fifth with a career-best time of 1:09.25. Barton finished seventh in 1:09.72 and senior Estella Allen ended up ninth in 1:12.31.
The average cutoff time for the 100 breaststroke in the past five years was 1:11, but it took a 1:09.59 this season.
Barton's time in the 100 breaststroke and Ray's time in the 100 freestyle would have clinched a state berth in each of the past five seasons.
"Sometimes it's not your day, and sometimes it's your teammate's day, and that's still great," Shelton said. "That's what being a unified team is about."
Van Maanen put together perhaps the most surprising day of any Aquagirl. She spent half of her junior season out with mononucleosis and had less than two weeks to get ready for regionals but clinched her first-ever individual state berth after a career-best performance.
"Watching my teammates at practice and not being able to swim motivated me to work hard and made me miss it even more," Van Maanen said. "I knew once I got back in the water I had to work my butt off. It wasn't going to be handed to me. I had to work for it.
"I feel very accomplished. The hard work paid off."
The 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams both finished third and the 200 medley relay was fourth.
Newton senior Estella Allen helped the Aquagirls qualify for the girls' state swim meet in the 200-yard medley relay on Saturday in Johnston. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
The Aquagirls have the 15th-best qualifying times in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, while the 200 medley relay team enters the state meet with the 25th-best qualifying time.
The 200 medley relay kicked off the day and NCMP's foursome of White, Allen and juniors Izzy Lane and Alex Riney were fourth in a season-best time of 1:54.49. The final cut-off time was 1:58.08, and Johnston (1:51.75) edged Valley (1:51.77) for the win.
"I'm excited. We've worked hard this season and it's all paid off," Lane said. "I wasn't really expecting to be on a relay because there are so many fast and amazing swimmers on this team, but when they told me I made it, I was really excited. It made me work even harder and keep putting in extra hours in the pool."
The 200 freestyle relay team featured Barton, Riney, junior Paige Benson and Ray and they finished third in a season-best 1:41.61. Johnston (1:41.49) edged the Aquagirls for second, Valley won the race in 1:40.7 and the final state qualifying time was 1:45.9.
In the 400 freestyle relay, the team of Ray, Riney, Lane and Barton posted a season-best time of 3:45.69 in third. The final cut-off time was 3:54.6, Valley won the race in 3:39.79 and Johnston was the runner-up in 3:41.26.
"I just wanted to qualify for state in something, so I'm glad we get to go in the relays," Ray said. "I feel good about them. They're in a good spot for state. It feels about the same as last year, and we were in a good spot then."
Newton sophomore Harper Barton swims in the 400-yard freestyle relay at Summit Middle School in Johnston on Saturday. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
Several NCMP swimmers have been battling for a spot on the relays all season. Shelton did the best he could to balance out his swimmers' individual events with the relays.
"It's a big puzzle and we tried to piece things together to get girls in their individual events while also getting the relays through," Shelton said. "It's looking at times across the whole season and just seeing who's peaking when and what each swimmer should be focusing on.
"Today, it paid off because all of the relays dropped a ton of time."
Van Maanen's main goal when she returned from her illness was to earn a spot on at least one of the three relays. She admitted not getting a spot motivated her even more for the 100 breaststroke.
"I may have underestimated her because she was out sick for so long," Shelton said. "I just didn't think she had enough conditioning, but she came out and proved me wrong and that's great. Her breaststroke was insane. It was amazing."
The other two podium finishes came from Riney in the 50 freestyle and White in the 100 butterfly.
Riney finished fourth in the 50 free with a time of 25.64 seconds. Two swimmers went under 25 at the regional and the final state qualifying time was 25.17. Benson finished 10th in the event in 26.77.
White Riney Lane
Newton sophomore Tori White and junior Alex Riney cheer for junior Izzy Lane at the start of the 200-yard medley relay at Summit Middle School on Friday. (Troy Hyde/Newton News)
White grabbed the final podium spot in the 100 fly. She was sixth in 1:04.34, while Lane (1:05.12) and Benson (1:08.12) were seventh and eighth, respectively.
Valley's Adeline Li was the regional champion in 59.32 and the final state qualifying time was clocked in 1:02.59.
Ray and Van Maanen grabbed the final top-10 finishes.
Ray was seventh in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:03.37, but she needed a 2:02.49 to advance to state.
Van Maanen finished seventh in the 200 individual medley. She posted a time of 2:20.4 but needed a 2:19.48 to qualify.
Notes: The preliminary heats for individual races at the state swim meet will start at 11 a.m. on Friday. The state diving meet begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The state swimming finals, including all three relays, get going at noon on Saturday. ... Barton enters the state meet with the 24th-best qualifying time in the 100 freestyle, while Van Maanen posted the 29th-best qualifying time in the 100 breaststroke. ... NCMP finished third in the team standings despite having no divers again this season. Johnston and Valley both qualified three divers for the state meet, too. ... The top five finishing teams in each relay from the Johnston regional qualified for state. The top seven finishers in the 500 freestyle, the top six in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM and the first five in the 200 freestyle all advanced to the state meet.