Andrew Ottavianelli enjoys the thrill of the chase.
As Ottavianelli dove in for the anchor leg of the 200 medley relay Thursday night, the Bettendorf swimmer had ground to make up.
Thanks to a strong turn and closing speed, Ottavianelli clipped Pleasant Valley's Nathan McKay at the finish to propel sixth-ranked Bettendorf to a 99-71 dual win at Bettendorf High School.
"My favorite part of swimming is coming back on a race and winning a really close one," Ottavianelli said. "It really gets your heart going."
The Bulldogs won 10 of the 11 events and went 1-2 in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley and 400 freestyle relay to storm past their rival.
It was a stark contrast from a season ago when the teams tied.
Bettendorf's top-end talent of Caleb Aman, Charlie Bunn and Ottavianelli each had a hand in a maximum four wins.
It started with a come-from-behind win in the 200 medley relay.
Aman, Ben Ketalaar and Ben Luppen joined Ottavianelli for a time of 1 minute, 39.32 seconds — just 0.17 seconds in front of PV. Ottavianelli closed in 21.88 in the 50 freestyle.
"Yeah, we really needed the excitement to pick us up," Bunn said. "We've been tired and rundown the past week. Andrew got us going."
Mike Ahrens felt Sam Mitvalsky finishing second in the 200 free and Ketalaar snatching second in the 200 IM were keys in the meet.
"We were definitely concerned," Ottavianelli said. "PV is a worthy opponent, and I was almost scared in a way. To come out victorious is a really good feeling. Everybody swam well tonight."
Ahrens called this a midterm exam for his team, with a grueling stretch of training coming over the holiday break.
The coach didn't hesitate in giving his team a grade afterward.
"We got an 'A'," Ahrens said. "PV is good, and they're deep. I was really concerned, but I thought the beginning of the meet was big."
Ottavianelli had individual victories in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Aman, a three-time state champion last year, took first in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. Bunn swept the 200 and 500 freestyles. Ketalaar prevailed in the 100 breaststroke.
The brother of Bettendorf girls swimming standout Arianna Ottavianelli, Andrew's times already are on par with what he swam at the end of last season.
"I've grown about an inch and have another year of lifting," Ottavianelli said. "I've been working hard and training in the offseason with the I-fly swim club in Iowa City. It has paid off."
The Bulldogs saved their best performance for last.
Bunn, Mitvalsky, Ottavianelli and Aman swam a season-best 3:16.77 to claim the 400 freestyle relay. It is the top time recorded in the state this year.
Even with the graduation of Ryan Schade and Zach Bunn, Bettendorf believes it can contend for a state trophy come February.
"We're at a pretty good point right now," Ottavianelli said. "The big thing is to not get burned out and to stay focused. We've got a lot of tough sets coming over winter break, so we can't forget the goal and remain focused."
Kevin Burke prevented Bettendorf from winning all 11 events. Burke swam a career-best time of 52.46 to take the 100 butterfly. He also was a close second to Aman in the 100 backstroke.
"We had a lot of individual successes, but Bettendorf had a lot of big time drops," Burke said. "It was a pretty good meet, but there was more we wanted to do."
Burke admitted this was an important meet given it was Bettendorf, but he also realizes the big prize is in February.
"To get this meet out of the way and focus on the rest of the season is really important," Burke said. "We're focused on districts and state."