By Rob Levis
After a string of strong performances, the Vinton-Shellsburg CPU swim team had high hopes as it finished a long week at the North Central Swim Conference meet Saturday in Boone. But while the meet didn’t go quite as planned, the Stormin’ Vikings demonstrated great resilience in managing a 6th place finish.
Already planning to be missing JRs Tristan Miller and Donny Sass due to school conflicts, the line-up took a last-minute blow with the loss of Sophomore sensation Cyrus Elwick to the flu. Faced with the unexpected loss of one of the team’s top swimmers, its third meet in 5 days, a 6:30 AM departure and two-hour bus ride, the adversity continued to mount when in the first event of the day the A Medley Relay disqualified on a relay exchange. That error cost the team 24 points and put them is a deep hole – both on the score sheet and emotionally as the Stormin’ Vikes were squarely in last place after the first three events.
But when things looked the lowest, the team turned it on and battled back. Challenged to step up and fill the void, the team responded and rose to the occasion. Seniors Isaac Vrba and Dylan Geater scored in the 50 Free and then after the first break, FR Isaac Allsup and SR Lewis Williams led off capturing 7th and 11th in the 100 Fly. Williams, along with Tyler Hekel, filled in for Elwick and Tristan Miller in the 200 Free Relay helping the team secure a 7th place finish among the 15 team field. Keenan Andreas and Williams also stepped into roles on the 400 A relay and swam best times.
After the second break, Isaac Vrba and Isaac Allsup each fought their way onto the medal stand, scoring much needed points with 5th place finishes. SR Tyler Hekel added to the point total with an 8th place in the 100 Back.
Missing Cyrus, Tristan and Donny took a lot out of our lineup, really hitting our relays and individual scoring hard. We probably lost out on about 60 points with those guys gone and another 24 on the relay DQ. So to bounce back with so many strong performances was good to see. The guys could have wilted under the pressure but didn’t.
On the evening the Stormin’ Vikes turned in 20 new personal best times with some of the younger guys leading the way. FR Anthony Hilton and Andrew Jessen and JR Keenan Andreas each recorded three new best marks for the season.
For the second year in a row the VS-CPU coaching staff was named staff of the year. Thanks to Mike Kramer for all of his assistance as well as our managers and girl’s coach Ashley Hesson who has really helped out a number of time throughout the season.
The team continues the season this coming Saturday at Linn-Mar where they will face host Linn-Mar, CR Washington, Kennedy, Jefferson, Decorah, Burlington, Muscatine and Keokuk.