The Newton boys swim team looked to pick up some early-season momentum while hosting its annual invitational Saturday at the Newton Y, and that's just what the Cardinals did.
In a five-team meet that was exciting throughout, Newton finished in a close second place despite winning six of the 11 events. Indianola took the team title with 269 points, with the Cardinals the runner-up with 252. Grinnell took third with 183, followed by Decorah (177) and Vinton-Shellsburg (52).
"I knew that's what it was going to be," Newton coach Dave Hook said about how the meet went. "It turned out to be a great meet with a lot of exciting races. Our guys came to perform. I'm really happy with how they did."
Highlighting the day for the Cardinals was a new school record in the 50-meter freestyle, courtesy of senior foreign exchange student Matheus Pinto. He dominated the event with a winning time of 24.29 seconds — breaking the old mark of 24.68 set back in 1987 by Chris Shaffer. Pinto won the race by nearly a three-second margin in an event that usually is decided by less than a second.
Pinto also cruised to a victory in the 100 freestyle in 55.34 seconds — winning by 5.68 seconds.
Freshman Austin Bunker also had a big day, picking up individual wins in the 200 freestyle in 2:18.89 and the 400 freestyle in 4:44.86. The 400 — usually decided by the largest margin of any event — turned out to be one of the day's most thrilling. Bunker battled Indianola's Austin Charron throughout, out-touching him by .69seconds for the win.
The Cardinals also had an individual win in the 100 backstroke from senior Luke Norcross in 1:07.45, while the sixth win came in the final event of the day as the 400 freestyle relay team of Norcross, Bunker, senior Ryan Jolivette and Pinto won in 3:55.50.
That relay team was trying to break the school record of 3:53.50, and came up a little short at 3:55.50.
“It’s disappointing. We’d like to get it when we can,” Jolivette said. “Hopefully that relay will be put together at the next home meet. We’ll be good to go.”
“We’ll have another shot at that soon,” Hook added. “I knew they could get close and we wanted to see where they were at.”
Newton trailed Indianola only by 10 points with two events remaining, and the two schools split wins in those races. The Indians won four events, but edged the Cardinals by taking second in six others.
Besides its six wins, Newton took second in four events. One of them was by the 200 medley relay team of Norcross, sophomore Jeff Fitzgerald, Pinto and Bunker in 1:58.97. That race was the closest of the day, as Indianola barely edged the Cards by just .06 hundreths of a second.
“Everything was neck-and-neck,” Jolivette said. “We knew we had to get some touches. Some came and some didn’t, so you have to go with you get.”
Newton’s other runner-up showings came from Norcross in the 200 individual medley in 2:35.84; the 20 freestyle relay team of senior Josh Smith, Fitzgerld, junior Paul DeHart and Jolivette in 1:53.52 and Fizgerald in the 100 breaststroke in 1:21.34.
The Cardinals’ next competition is Saturday when they take part in an invitational at Marshalltown, beginning at 11 a.m.
1, Indianola 269; 2, Newton 252; 3, Grinnell/BGM 183; 4, Decorah 177; 5, Vinton-Shellsburg 52.