MARION, Iowa — The pressure of following in the footsteps of arguably the greatest boys swimmer in Bettendorf’s history was something Alex Stone couldn’t ignore Saturday afternoon.
He entered as the top seed in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle, plus anchored the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays. All the same events in which his former teammate — Charlie Bunn — claimed not only titles, but locked up automatic All-American honors.
Stone, while not perfect, still left the Linn-Mar Aquatic Center with two state championships and four medals.
The junior claimed the top spot on the podium in the two individual events and the pair of relays placed in the top-4 to increase his career total of state medals draped around his neck nearly into double digits.
“Maybe just a little bit of added pressure for myself,” Stone said.
Bettendorf finished sixth in the team race with 131 points. Waukee walked away with the championship trophy, accumulating 268.5 points, followed by Ankeny (238.5) and Iowa City West (208.5).
In the eyes of Mike Ahrens, one of the few swimmers he has seen who could continue Bunn's domination of the sprint events was Stone.
“When I saw his splits last year from the state meet, my brain was working like man, I got the next stud in me,” the Bulldogs coach said. “He’s so talented, a coachable kid. He’s excelled in his first year being our No. 1 sprinter.”
Next to Stone in the 50 free was Muscatine’s Ryan Boeding. The two hit the turn at the same time, but then Stone began to pull away with about 10 yards left to edge his MAC foe 20.67-20.85.
Both will be considered for All-American slots.
“It’s pretty special. It could be my first individual All-American,” Stone said. “Knowing that I wanted to win, I had to pick it up.”
Boeding took a peek after the turn and saw his rival near him. The senior still dropped three-tenths of a second from his district time.
“I saw him start to take off,” he said. “I tried to put my head down and finish it off.”
Stone went out in 21.23 seconds in the opening 50 yards of the 100-yard freestyle and held off a late charge of Iowa City High’s Isaac Weigel to triumph in 45.17 seconds.
“He’s analytical and he knows what he needs to be out in,” Ahrens said. “He was ticked off that he finished like that.”
Bettendorf's winning streaks in the two freestyle relays were dashed in the span of 51 minutes.
The Bulldogs placed fourth in the 200 free relay, a race they had won the last three years, and despite a charge from Stone on the anchor, Bettendorf finished as runner-up in the 400 free relay after claiming the top spot the past two years.
Bettendorf's times were good enough for an automatic All-American spot in the 200 relay and they be under consideration for AA honors in the 400 relay.
“The beauty about it is all four of those dudes (on both relays) are back,” Ahrens said. “We’ll be back next year.”
Carter Anderson was in the two freestyle relays and added a seventh place finish in the 100 butterfly for Bettendorf.
Davenport Central’s Kyle Hopewell, the top seed in the 100 fly, swam under four-tenths of a second slower than his district time and ended up third on the podium.
He went out in 23.24 seconds, but came back in over 26 seconds.
“It happens. It’s been a weird season, but we can’t blame it on that,” Hopewell said. “I’m supposed to overcome the tiredness, but I couldn’t.”
Pleasant Valley’s Will Gorman, a freshman, exited with three medals. He placed eighth in the 200 free and 500 free and anchored the eighth place 200 free relay.
Gorman won the second heat of the 200 free in 1:42.85, a more than four-second drop from last weekend, to get the final medal spot.
“I felt pretty good, we were nice and tapered for this meet,” he said. “I went out a bit slower and conserved my energy.”