Bulldog swimmers fall in heartbreaker
October 14, 2011Ottumwa High School
OTTUMWA — Oh, so close.
Two points and less then two seconds. That ultimately was the final margin of a girls high school swimming dual at The Beach Ottumwa that wasn’t decided until the final race was done.
That final race was won by Keokuk by 1.99 seconds. That 400 free relay victory pushed the Purple Chiefs to an 85-83 victory over the hometown Ottumwa Bulldogs.
There was distinctive mix of groans and cheers from the fans who were uncertain who won until when the final score was announced. What was certain for Ottumwa head girls swimming coach Stephanie Carroll going into the meet was how vital the night’s final race would be.
“It all came down to that last event, which we kind of went into the night expecting,” Carroll said. “It was a great, exciting night for anyone who likes high school swimming.”
There was no doubt as to how important the 400 free relay finale was as Keokuk and Ottumwa each scored 77 points in the first 10 varsity races. Keokuk racked up wins in most of those events, taking five of the first six victories but only built as big as a 10-point lead as Ottumwa used their depth to stay within striking distance.
“That’s the way we’ve pretty much established ourselves as a program,” Carroll said. “Whether you’re the first swimmer out there or the third swimmer or a JV swimmer going out there, we count on everyone to step up, from the best swimmers to the newcomers.”
One young swimmer who stepped up and started a late-meet rally for Ottumwa was sophomore Jill Arduser, who had been battling an illness that started just 48 hours earlier. Arduser began the Bulldogs’ scoring rally by coming from over 4.6 seconds back late in the 500 free relay to beat Keokuk’s Mercedes Hawkins by almost six seconds in a time of 6:32.37.
“I’m not sure what it is she’s been battling, but she pulled it together and gave us some great swims,” Carroll said of Arduser. “She caught that girl from behind, which is what you have to do. It really was a testament to her toughness.”
Sophomore Maranda Rupalo and senior Maren Melvold helped Ottumwa erase a 66-56 deficit by scoring a pair of wins in two of the final three races. After Rupalo scored the victory in the 100 backstroke in 1:10.83, Melvold added a win in the 100 breaststroke to her first-place swim in the 200 individual medley earlier in the night.
“We knew at that point (of the meet) we had to go fast,” Melvold said of her win in the breaststroke. “Everyone needed to score for us to win, so we all had to go fast. I was just trying to go as fast as I could. It feels good to win that race. To know you’ve done your best and win always feels good.”
Keokuk’s youth ultimately served them well throughout the night. Sophomore Lexie Hawkins provided the Purple Chiefs with wins in the 100 and 200 freestyle races while another sophomore, Alexandra Logan, caught and passed Melvold in the final 100 meters of the night’s deciding 400 free relay.
The loss drops the Ottumwa swimmers to 3-5 in duals on the season just a week after the Bulldogs evened their dual-meet record. With two weeks to go in the regular season, Carroll sees the difficult defeat as a positive moving forward for her team.
“It serves as a great motivator,” Carroll said. “Obviously you’re going to leave a situation like this and feel a little disappointment. That’s what is going to bring you back to the pool the next day to put in the time we need to put in to for these last two weeks.”
Keokuk-Ottumwa Girls Swimming
Team Scores — Keokuk 85, Ottumwa 83
200 Medley Relay — 1. Keokuk (Lexie Hawkins, Paige Parker, Katelyn Grisham, Mercedes Hawkins) 2:08.1, 2. Ottumwa (Marissa Rupalo, Maren Melvold, Maranda Rupalo, Caroline Carlson) 2:09.82.
200 Freestyle — 1. L. Hawkins (K) 2:08.31, 2. Jill Arduser (O) 2:26.42, 3. Mari. Rupalo (O) 2:30.12, 5. Ca. Carlson (O) 2:33.58.
200 Individual Medley — 1. Maren Melvold (O) 2:33.42, 4. Megan Black (O) 2:52.64.
50 Freestyle — 1. Kelby Kies (K) 28.28, 2. Danielle Noe (O) 28.68, 4. Amber Johnson (O) 30.68, 6. Whitney Dostal (O) 31.6.
100 Butterfly — 1. Parker (K) 1:10.15, 2. Mara. Rupalo (O) 1:11.93, 3. Mari. Rupalo (O) 1:20.42, 4. Shayla Wolver (O) 1:26.47.
100 Freestyle — 1. L. Hawkins (K) 58.24, 3. Ca. Carlson (O) 1:03.98, 4. Claire Carlson (O) 1:07.07, 5. Dostal (O) 1:08.68.
500 Freestyle — 1. Arduser (O) 6:32.37, 4. Kenzie McCoy (O) 7:01.09, 5. Noe (O) 7:09.06.
200 Free Relay — 1. Keokuk (Kies, Parker, Alexandra Logan, L. Hawkins) 1:54.67, 2. Ottumwa (Johnson, Black, Cl. Carlson, Noe) 2:02.17, 3. Ottumwa (Dostal, Bethany Knox, Wolver, McCoy) 2:07.31.
100 Backstroke — 1. Mara. Rupalo (O) 1:10.83, 3. Cl. Carlson (O) 1:17.54, 5. Johnson (O) 1:20.61.
100 Breaststroke — 1. Melvold (O) 1:19.44, 3. Black (O) 1:22.45, 4. McCoy (O) 1:24.98.
400 Free Relay — 1. Keokuk (Hoffman, M. Hawkins, Kies, Logan) 4:14.67, 2. Ottumwa (Ca. Carlson, Mara. Rupalo, Mari. Rupalo, Melvold) 4:16.46, 3. Ottumwa (Noe, Dostal, Johnson, Arduser) 4:49.24, 5. Ottumwa (Callie Lawson, Zana Lippencott, Katie Zingg, Camilla Guldager) 5:55.42.
JV Scores — Ottumwa 54, Keokuk 0
200 Freestyle — 1. Guldager (O) 2:46.04, 2. Knox (O) 2:53.25.
200 Individual Medley — 1. Zingg (O) 36.83, 2. Lippencott (O) 36.91, 3. Lawson (O) 41.55.
100 Freestyle — 1. Knox (O) 1:14.27, 2. Lippincott (O) 1:28.55, 3. Lawson (O) 1:33.58.
200 Free Relay — 1. Ottumwa (Lawson, Guldager, Zingg, Lippincott) 2:31.11.
100 Breaststroke — 1. Zingg (O) 1:30.16, 2. Guldager (O) 1:41.23.