Ames girls excited for chance to defend state championship: Waukee, Iowa City West are favorites
The Ames girls' swimming and diving team will be gunning for its 10th state championship in 12 years this weekend in Marshalltown.
Ames is the defending state champion after defeating Iowa City West, 303 points to 277.5, to claim the 2020 championship. The 2020 state title run was one of the most memorable in state history as the Cyclones won it for Hall of Fame head coach Dan Flannery, who passed away just before the start of the season.
Winning state championship No. 10 won't be an easy task. Iowa City West brings back the most talented swimmer in the state in senior Scarlet Martin, and Waukee dominated Ames in a dual meet earlier in the season.
"Waukee is amazing — we didn't win a single event when we swam against them," Ames head coach Joe Fisher said. "They are, by far, the best team in the state. They have depth in every event, top to bottom. I'm fairly certain they left a number of girls home that would easily place at the state meet. Iowa City West — Scarlet Martin is just an incredible talent and they're hungry as well."
But as last year showed, when it comes to girls' swimming, never count out the Little Cyclones.
"Our senior class is poised to have a fantastic meet," Joe Fisher said. "It's going to be a fun weekend for them."
Ames brings back 50- and 100-yard freestyle state champion Meghan Donald, a North Carolina State recruit. Mikayla Kloth trails only Martin in the 100 butterfly. The Little Cyclones also have the fastest qualifying times in two of the three relay events.
Depth will also be a big advantage for Ames. For only the second time in their storied history, the Little Cyclones maxed out in state qualifiers for swimming events with 27.
"I'm really excited we got all of our swims in," Ames senior Abby Hala said. "It's always fun to have everyone who was on the regional team get there."
It will be all about swimming for their best times and letting the chips fall where they may.
"The main thing we've been focusing on is having fun," Hala said. "We swim a lot faster when we're having fun rather than worrying about everything. It will be really nice to just go out there to swim for the team and have a good time."
The individual qualifiers in each event at state for Ames are:
- Lauren Fisher, Riley Snakenberg and Loretta Ostermeier in the 200 freestyle.
- Hala, Andra Robertson and Reese Winer in the 200 individual medley.
- Donald, Kloth and Sophie McCorkle in the 50 free.
- Kloth, her twin sister Jordon and Liz Powers in the 100 fly.
- Donald, McCorkle and Saylor Horras in the 100 free.
- Fisher, Snakenberg and Liz Powers in the 500 free.
- Hala, Jordon Kloth and Ostermeier in the 100 backstroke.
- Robertson, Winer and Olivia Knutson in the 100 breaststroke.
Donald is ranked first in both the 50 and 100 freestyle races. Mikayla Kloth is second in the fly and fourth in the 50 free, Fisher sixth in the 200 free, Jordon Kloth sixth in the fly and eighth in the backstroke, Hala seventh in both the IM and backstroke and Robertson seventh in the breaststroke.
Ames has the fastest time in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays going into state.
Jordon Kloth, Robertson, Mikayla Kloth and Donald swam the medley in 1:45.91. McCorkle, Horras, Mikayla Kloth and Donald did the freestyle in 1:36.39.
The Little Cyclone 400 freestyle relay team of McCorkle, Horras, Fisher and Jordon Kloth ranks seventh heading into state with a qualifying time of 3:36.98.
"State is a really fun environment," Hala said. "I'm excited to see how we perform."
The state meet begins Friday at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA with the diving competition at 11 a.m. The swimming preliminaries start at 5 p.m.
The swimming finals take place Saturday at noon.