Rush Clark

Creighton Prep’s Rush Clark competes in the boys 100-yard freestyle prelims, where he qualified second minutes after setting a state record in the 100 butterfly.

LINCOLN — The script Omaha Creighton Prep Tom Beck wrote for Rush Clark’s Friday program at the state swimming championship meet went to rewrite in the opening 50 yards of Clark’s first swim.

Beck wanted Clark, who already owned the state record in the 100-yard butterfly, to conserve energy for his 100 freestyle that followed less than five minutes later at the Devaney Center.

Clark instead flew through his first 50, slowed down the final 25 and set a state meet record in the process. In early January, Clark had set the state record of 48.51 seconds at a meet in Minneapolis.

The new standard became 47.64 during Friday’s prelims , and Clark has a decent shot of going lower during Saturday’s finals that are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

“I guess he was feeling it, so he went with it,” Beck said. “Actually, he said he shut it down the last 25. He pretty much hit his ideal 100 fly stroke in that first 50. Even shutting it down the last 25, he was still going really fast that last 25.”

Clark said he called the audible once he came up from his dive into the pool.

“It just felt good,” Clark said. “The underwater portion, everything just felt right, felt smooth.”

Grand Island sophomore Jonathan Novinski duplicated Clark’s feat of lowering his own state record and setting a state meet record in the 500 freestyle prelims. Novinski got off to a quick start, slowed a bit in the middle part of the race but sprinted home to finish in 4:32.04.

That time is 0.75 seconds faster than he swam to set the state record Feb. 9 at the Heartland Athletic Conference championship meet in Fremont. Novinski also was the fastest qualifier in the 200 freestyle and debuted at No. 8 on The World-Herald’s all-time chart by finishing in 1:40.08.

Just 4 minutes, 55 seconds lapsed between the moment Prep’s Clark touched the wall to finish the 100 fly and the whistle blew for him to step on the blocks for his heat of the 100 free. Clark won his heat and qualified second overall in 46.77; Lincoln Southwest freshman Tommy Palmer was the fastest qualifier at 46.67.

Clark has a best time this season of 45.91 and is confident he can get in that range Saturday because he will have more time to recover between races.

Both races in the girls 100 free, a medal presentation and the consolation heat of the boys 100 free will take place before Clark has to step up for the 100 free. Clark will welcome the extra recovery time: The quick turnaround between races Friday made his legs hurt in the second half of the race, he said. 

“On a scale of one to 10, 100,” Clark said. “It doesn’t start hurting until the second 50. The first 50 is fine, and then the pain in your lower body starts to set in really bad.”

Beck is confident that Clark will enjoy the extra recovery time.

“He’s got about 20 minutes tomorrow,” Beck said. “So it’s going to be like a day at the spa tomorrow for him between those two events.”

It was more than just sprint work that Clark used to prepare all season for this back-to-back championship Saturday grind.

“Distance sets,” Clark said. “I’ll do a distance set like 20 100s holding the fastest tempo I can. Pace sets with little rest also are a part of it.”

Clark said there’s plenty of room for him to go faster in both events. His 45.91 100 free time was tied for 10th on the all-time chart for about a month before Luke Barr of Papillion-La Vista/Papillion-La Vista South debuted at No. 5 during the Metro Conference meet.

“If I get three or four times the rest, I think I’ll be able to drop at least two seconds from prelims (in the 100 free),” Clark said. “Ice bath, stretching and eating right, those things will help.”

Barr had a pair of swims that placed him at No. 2 all-time in two events. First, the Papio South sophomore went 1:50.16 in the 200 individual medley to debut second behind Jacob Molacek of Omaha Creighton Prep.

Then in the 100 breaststroke, Barr moved from seventh to second by touching in 55.41. Barr also led off Papio’s 200 freestyle relay with a 50-yard split of 20.67. That would put Barr at No. 7 all-time, but he’s already No. 3 with a 20.46.

Papio coach Nick Baker said Barr told him after both races that going faster in both individual races Saturday definitely wasn’t out of the question.

“He said he felt pretty comfortable and he went a best time,” Baker said. “He didn’t feel stressed at all. He was a little disappointed with (the backstroke) time. He took the first 50 out pretty controlled, so hopefully he’ll take that out faster tomorrow.”

One more swimmer made his Top 10 debut in two events. Millard West sophomore Mateo Miceli is No. 7 in the 100 butterfly following his 49.76, and he moved to No. 8 in the 100 backstroke by finishing second to Prep’s Ross Pantano in 50.17.

“Compared to last year, he’s taken off huge,” Millard West coach Jamie Bowcott said. “At state last year, he dropped two seconds in his backstroke, and he still hasn’t put a complete race together. When he does, he’s going to surprise some people.”

Bowcott said the additional focus Miceli has worked to build the past year is a big reason he’s improved so dramatically.

“He’s a little bit more coachable, a little more driven,” Bowcott said. “He’s got his goals in front of him, he knows what he wants, and he’s been working since state last year to get them.”

Championship qualifiers

200-yard medley relay: 1, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South (Mark Cavanaugh, Luke Barr, Daniel Keller, Joe Ciriaco), 1:34.69. 2, Omaha Creighton Prep, 1:36.16. 3, Lincoln East, 1:36.22. 4, Omaha Westside, 1:36.73. 5, Lincoln Pius X, 1:36.74. 6, Grand Island, 1:36.86. 7, Norfolk, 1:37.03. 8, Millard West, 1:37.18. 200 freestyle: 1, Jonathan Novinski, GI, 1:40.08 (No. 8 all-time). 2, Tommy Palmer, Lincoln Southwest, 1:41.79. 3, Hunter Smithson, Millard South, 1:44.11. 4, Jack Bailey, Westside, 1:44.25. 5, Charles Roberts, LE, 1:44.45. 6, Daniel Perry, Prep, 1:44.50. 7, Jordan Stalheim, MW, 1:44.57. 8, Ben DuBay, MW, 1:44.95. 200 individual medley: 1, Barr, 1:50.16 (No. 2 all-time). 2, Ross Pantano, Prep, 1:53.39. 3, Alex Petty, LE, 1:55.35. 4, Thomas Lundin, Westside, 1:57.08. 5, Caleb Miller, Bellevue West, 1:57.19. 6, Sam Kelly, Westside, 1:57.45. 7, Chas Nolte, LSW, 1:57.92. 8, Kael Mlinek, LSW, 1:58.34. 50 freestyle: 1, Kody Hollingsworth, Omaha Burke, 21.33. 2, Caden Feit, Lincoln Northeast, 21.38. 3, Cavanaugh, 21.43. 4, Colin Backhaus, MW, 21.61. 5, Kellen Carney, Norfolk, 21.72. 6, Logan Kempf, Lincoln Pius X, 21.83. 7, Andrew Hood, Prep, 21.95. 8, Charles Sieglaff, Lincoln High, 21.97. 100 butterfly: 1, Rush Clark, Prep, 47.64 (No. 1 all-time, state meet record, betters 48.68 by Jacob Molacek, Omaha Creighton Prep, 48.68, 2013). 2, Mateo Miceli, MW, 49.76 (No. 8 all-time). 3, Sal Goaley, Prep, 51.83. 4, Paul Schmidt, Westside, 52.21. 5, Caleb Harthoorn, Norfolk, 52.23. 6, Lundin, 52.64. 7, Kayden McCullough, Prep, 52.69. 8, Trevor Edwards, MS, 53.15. 100 freestyle: 1, Palmer, 46.67. 2, Clark, 46.77. 3, Feit, 46.96. 4, Hollingsworth, 47.18. 5, Smithson, 47.57. 6, Bailey, 47.85. 7, Hood, 47.98. 8, DuBay, 48.02. 500 freestyle: 1, Novinski, 4:32.04 (No. 1 all-time, state meet record, betters 4:34.76 by Caleb Schuermann, Omaha Creighton Prep, 2009). 2, Kael Mlinek, LSW, 4:43.78. 3, Roberts, 4:47.18. 4, Stalheim, 4:48.68. 5, Perry, 4:48.84. 6, Kelly, 4:49.35. 7, Harthoorn, 4:49.55. 8, Miller, 4:49.84. 200 freestyle relay: 1, Papillion-La Vista/PLV South (Barr, Cavanaugh, Sean McElmeel, Ciriaco), 1:26.85. 2, Millard West, 1:27.31. 3, Grand Island, 1:28.42. 4, Millard South, 1:29.00. 5, Lincoln Southwest, 1:29.03. 6, Kearney, 1:29.17. 7, Omaha Creighton Prep, 1:29.18. 8, Omaha Westside, 1:29.46. 100 backstroke: 1, Pantano, 50.16. 2, Miceli, 50.17 (No. 8 all-time). 3, Cavanaugh, 50.69. 4, Jordan Coffey, LPX, 51.05. 5, Carney, 51.19. 6, Colin Davis, Westside, 53.15. 7, Ethan Kinney, Kearney, 53.44. 8, Mason Schroeder, LE, 53.86. 100 breaststroke: 1, Barr, 55.41 (No. 2 all-time). 2, Petty, 57.62. 3, Grant Johnson, Hastings, 58.01. 4, Mason Olmer, Norfolk, 58.01. 5, Nolte, 58.25. 6, Ben Goeman, Prep, 59.36. 7, Schmidt, 59.43. 8, Drew Kaelin, Prep, 59.64. 400 freestyle relay: 1, Millard West (Brayden Moody, DuBay, Stalheim, Miceli), 3:11.65. 2, Omaha Westside, 3:12.56. 3, Lincoln Southwest, 3:14.67. 4, Millard South, 3:14.78. 5, Omaha Creighton Prep, 3:15.97. 6, Lincoln East, 3:16.90. 7, Norfolk, 3:17.27. 8, Lincoln Pius X, 3:17.34.

Sign up for daily headlines from NEPrepZone

Get a daily roundup of game recaps, player features and more in your inbox.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.