NCMP wins seven events, finishes second at LHC meet

Jan. 21—INDIANOLA — Last season, the Newton-Colfax-Mingo-Pella boys' swim team placed fourth and scored 238 points at the Little Hawkeye Conference meet at the Indianola YMCA.

One year later, the Cardinals returned to the same pool and registered seven event wins, scored 119 more points than last year and placed second in the four-team field.

Indianola won the meet for at least the fourth straight season, but NCMP was only 18 points back despite missing two varsity swimmers.

"I'm really happy with where we are right now," NCMP head boys swim coach Sarah Patterson said. "I need my varsity guys to keep training hard for about another week, and then we will back off to bring the speed. I think NCMP is going to surprise a few people."

The Cardinals won seven of the 11 events, and several swimmers set personal-best times.

NCMP won the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, Finn Martin was part of four wins and Clay Lamb, MacK Copeland and Brady Comer also won an individual event.

Indianola won the LHC title with 375 points. NCMP was second with 357 and Grinnell/BGM (277) and Oskaloosa (158) completed the four-team field.

"When I look at all of our splits compared to the other teams, we are super strong on the back half of our races," Patterson said. "Meaning, we might not have a ton of initial speed, but we can bring it home. This shows that our conditioning is excellent, and that taper will bring good things."

The winning 200 freestyle relay team included Martin, Lamb, Brady Comer and Eli Eekhoff and the foursome finished the race in a season-best 1 minute, 34.67 seconds. That currently sits 20th in the state.

Eekhoff, Lamb, Copeland and Martin won the 400 freestyle relay in a season-best 3:30.08. That ranks 19th in the state.

"Both of our freestyle relays are hitting their stride and dropped time," Patterson said. "Each is a season-best so that is super exciting."

Martin won the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.

In the 200 IM, Martin's winning time was clocked in a personal-best 2:06.64. Mason Gaulke was second in a personal-best 2:22.41 and Ethan Comer swam a personal-best 2:28.75 in fourth.

In the 100 butterfly, Martin won the race in a personal-best 54.3 seconds. Lamb finished second in a personal-best 58.31. Martin's time ranks in the top 25 in the state.

"Finn continues to show his versatility," Patterson said. "This kid is a worker. It doesn't matter what set I throw at him, he's going to give it everything he has.

"Something else that makes him a great athlete is that he pays attention to detail in practice and really listens. If I want one little detail emphasized, he's going to do it."

NCMP finished 1-3-4 in the 200 freestyle and 1-4 in the 100 breaststroke.

In the 200 freestyle, Lamb won the race in 2:02.9 and Copeland (2:07.3) and Drew Fuller (2:09.74) swam personal-best times in third and fourth, respectively.

The Comer brothers competed in the 100 breaststroke. Brady Comer won the race in a personal-best 1:05.27 and Ethan Comer finished fourth in a personal-record 1:12.74.

"Brady and Ethan Comer both had outstanding swims in the 100 breaststroke," Patterson said. "They have both worked so hard this season so it's fun to see this payoff."

The other win for NCMP came from Copeland. He won the 500 freestyle in a personal-best time of 5:51.64.

"MacK had a gritty 500 swim," Patterson said. "Unfortunately, he was the only one entered in the race for us because of a few team issues."

Eekhoff placed second in the 100 freestyle in 52.0 seconds. Jonah Brown (1:05.14) and Fuller (1:05.41) swam personal-best times in the 100 backstroke and placed third and fourth, respectively.

"Jonah Brown was put in the lineup because I needed a backstroker, and he went a 1:05.14," Patterson said. "I was super impressed with his swim. Drew Fuller had another great swim, too."

The final individual top-six finish came from Brady Comer. He was sixth in the 50 freestyle in 25.36.

NCMP was third in the 200 medley relay. The foursome of Brown, Brady Comer, Eekhoff and Ethan Comer hit the wall in 1:50.37.