After finishing the regular season with a pair of dual wins over Lincoln Southeast Tuesday evening, the Norfolk High swimming and diving teams now turn their attention to their first experience in the Heartland Athletic Conference meet.
By winning the dual’s final event — the 400 freestyle relay — the Norfolk girls protected a three-point lead and secured a 97-88 win over the Knights to finish the season with a 6-1 dual record, while the boys maintained a perfect 7-0 dual string by defeating Southeast 105-80.
“We had a really close girls meet; I was really proud of the way they stepped up at the end, winning the last relay,” Nelson said. “The team chemistry, the way we’re training — I’m really pleased with where we’re at.”
Nelson had plenty of highlights to mention, starting with Audrey Stelling’s “really good time” in the 200 freestyle which he said is “getting closer to a state qualifying time,” and the way the senior paced a sweep of the first three places in the 200 freestyle along with Courtney Flohr, and Morgan Herley — a result he described as “huge” in the dual’s outcome.
Another swimmer that drew praise from her coach is Joslyn Jacobs, a freshman co-op swimmer from Wisner-Pilger High School.
Jacobs, who currently holds the fifth-best time in the state in the 100 breaststroke, was assigned to swim “off events” in Tuesday’s dual, but won both--the 50 and 100 freestyle races. She also led off the Panthers’ winning 200 medley relay and swam the third leg of the clinching 400 freestyle relay.
“We have a ‘rec team’ in Wisner in the summer that involves maybe 10 kids or so, but Lauren Jacobsen — who introduced me to swimming — participated in swimming here in Norfolk, and eventually suggested that I try it,” Jacobs said. “So, I got involved with the Aquajets seven years ago, and I really liked it.”
Jacobs has lofty goals for the future, including Olympic aspirations.
“In 2020 I’m hoping to go to the Olympic trials in Omaha in the 100 breaststroke; I've been trying to get to the qualifying time,” she said. “I’m pretty sure the time is right at a 1:01, and I’m at a 1:07, so if I can drop .57 in six months I can get there — I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”
Nelson said that he made adjustments to his boys’ lineup, which gave the Panthers strong competition against a Southeast team that had “a lot of good swimmers.”
The boys team also featured a breaststroke swimmer, sophomore Mason Olmer, who was taking time off from his main event — and boasts the second-best boys time in the state so far this season. Olmer recorded wins in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly against Southeast.
“Coach was giving me a break from my primary event, but when I can I like to swim other events; I’d like to try to get my 100 butterfly down to a lower time,” Olmer said. “I’ve qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke, the 200 individual medley, and the three relays that have made it to state.”
Olmer, who also got his start in the Aquajets four years ago, said swimming wasn’t initially his first choice, but after becoming involved he grew to love it and sees the program as responsible for helping in the discovery of his two primary strokes.
“This year, either at conference or state, I’d like to break the school’s 200 individual medley record — which I’m, like, two seconds away from,” Olmer said. “Then I’d also like to re-break my own 100 breaststroke record, which I got third at state in last year.”
Olmer is aware of the competitors he will face at state this year and indicated that he enjoys competing against someone he is “pretty good friends” with.
Nelson admits that he has a personal reason for enjoying the success of both Jacobs and Olmer.
“Joslyn and Mason are both really good in the breaststroke — which is the event I swam competitively, so it’s an event I feel more confident in coaching sometimes, and it’s cool for me to see them do well,” Nelson said.
Another highlight of the boys team’s performance was diver Cayd McCarter, a junior, who broke the school’s “six dive” record against the Knights. McCarter’s score of 267.25 on Tuesday broke the previous record of 258.30 which was set by Travis Reeves in 2009.
Nelson noted that the boys team’s dual record over the past five years has accumulated to a 32-2 mark which, he added, “is pretty impressive in the program’s level of longevity and consistency.”
“That’s a tribute to the Aquajets program, which is directed by Renee Cleveland and Amber Bargstadt,” Nelson said. “They’re a huge part of our program, along with the summer and fall club programs, which I’ve coached for the past 17 years.”
The conference meet, which will be held at the Fremont YMCA pool and will imitate the state swim meet format, begins on Thursday, February 7th, with diving competition, followed by prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday.
“We’re going to try to approach it as much as we can as a preparation for the state meet,” Nelson said. “We’re still trying to figure out what’s going to be best for us in terms of the kids’ events, so we might not have some kids swim in their best event and may hold back a couple of our relay intentions, but we’ll get a pretty good idea of where everybody’s at.”
Next up for the Panthers’ training, Nelson said, is “the tapering phase,” which allows swimmers to improve speed through reduced distance and additional rest.
Norfolk girls 97, Lincoln Southeast 88
200 medley relay: 1. Norfolk, (Joslyn Jacobs, Katherine Meuret, Annika Harthoorn, Morgan Herley), 1:55.77. 200 freestyle: 1. Audrey Stelling, NOR, 2:05.97. 200 Individual medley 1. Maggy Montonya, LSE, 2:24.68; 3. Taylor Rossman, NOR, 2:31.59. 50 freestyle: 1. Jacobs, NOR, 26.55. Diving: 1. Kiran Walker, Norfolk, 201.10. 100 butterfly: 1. Michelle Kang, LSE, 1:07.10; 2. Anna Windedahl, NOR, 1:09.95.100 freestyle: 1. Jacobs, NOR, 57.35. 500 freestyle: 1. Lily Schroeder, LSE, 5:36.89; 2. Harthoorn, NOR, 5:39.87; 200 freestyle relay: 1. Lincoln Southeast, 1:48.21; 2. Norfolk, (Stelling, A. Windedahl, Herley, Flohr), 1:48.23. 100 backstroke: 1. Harthoorn, NOR, 1:00.97. 100 breaststroke: 1. Meuret, NOR, 1:07.05. 400 freestyle relay: 1. Norfolk, (Flohr, Stelling, Jacobs, Harthoorn), 3:51.56.
Norfolk boys 105, Lincoln Southeast 80
200-medley relay: 1. Norfolk (Benjamin Spray, Israel Klafter, Caleb Harthoorn, Kellen Carney), 1:46.43. 200 freestyle: 1. Mason Olmer, NOR, 1:53.44. 200 individual medley: 1. Harthoorn, NOR, 2:08.15. 50 freestyle: 1. Mason Delgado, LSE, 23.75; 2. Benjamin Spray, NOR, 23.89. Diving: 1. Cayd McCarter, NOR, 267.25. 100 butterfly: 1. Olmer, NOR, 55.69.
100 freestyle: 1. Harthoorn, NOR, 50.16. 500 freestyle: 1. Walker, NOR, 5:35.96. 200 freestyle relay: 1. Norfolk (Carney, Olmer, Spray, Harthoorn). 100 backstroke: 1. Adam Rustermier, LSE, 1:03.42; 2. Derek Carlson, NOR, 1:06.52. 100 breaststroke: 1. Quin Woods, LSE, 1:03.10; 3. Carney, NOR, 1:10.35. 400 freestyle relay: 1. Norfolk (Walker, Benjamin Bugenhagen, Nate Liess, Olmer), 3:32.96.