A surprising sweep in two events propelled the Bettendorf girls swimming team past Pleasant Valley on Tuesday night in a Mississippi Athletic Conference duel between two of the state's top teams.
The Bulldogs, ranked sixth in the latest Iowa prep power rankings, went 1-2-3 in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly to snag enough points to keep the 11th-ranked Spartans at arms’ length the rest of the meet as Bettendorf got by PV, 98-88, in the Spartans’ pool.
It was not necessarily surprising to see Bulldog veteran Alyssa Witt win both events for the visitors. But it was surprising to Bettendorf coach Mike Ahrens to see his team snag the other two places in both races to help cushion a lead that was eight to 10 points most of the way.
Junior Riley Wehr was second in the butterfly (1:02.60) and senior Maci Greenley was third (1:02.71). But it was the performance of sophomore Abby Selden and freshman Leilah Gaither that grabbed Ahrens’ attention in the 50 freestyle.
Selden took second in 26.27 while Gaither was third in 26.98.
“That was the difference especially coming out of the gate (losing the opening race) was tough,” Ahrens said. “The result of the 50 left us tied (team score) going into intermission which was huge … especially Leilah in Lane 1 was great. She made a little adjustment on her start and she had her best time and it paid off. It was big.”
After the break, the Bulldogs kept the momentum going as Witt won the butterfly in 1:00.93. Witt claimed the 50 free in 25.96.
Witt said she was just as caught off guard, and proud, of her teammates’ ability to grab those other top places.
“When I heard (Ahrens) yell ‘Sweep’ after both races, I was really surprised and just really proud of my teammates,” she said.
The home team got the Bulldogs' attention right off the bat, winning the 200 medley relay by an eyelash as Abby Buechel touched out Abby Selden to win the event for the Spartans. Buechel teamed with Grace Veach, Leah Patton and Taylor Buhr for the win.
Witt said that loss woke up the Bulldogs and she was right there to cheer and encourage her team the rest of the meet.
“I just told the team that we needed to pick it up, then we go 1-2-3 in the 50 free and we really got going,” Witt said. “The adrenaline was really flowing, crosstown rival and just a lot pressure to perform, but our team came up huge when it mattered.”
The teams traded victories in the next two events as Bettendorf’s Mary Selden won the 200 freestyle (1:58.52) and Buhr claimed the 200 individual medley (2:14.08). But then Bettendorf entered the break with the finishes in the 50 freestyle and came out of the break with the same 1-2-3 result in the butterfly.
Those results left the visitors with an eight-point lead they never relinquished. Pleasant Valley coach Rob Miecznikowski said he was pleased with his team’s effort for the whole meet but added a deficiency in his lineup was exploited at a key time by the Bulldogs.
“We don’t have a dedicated sprinter and that’s hard to make that up,” Miecznikowski said. “We were hoping to make it up in other events but it just didn’t happen. But I am very proud of the girls and what they did. Our goal was to be in it and never let them get away. I could not have asked for a better performance from my girls.”
The Spartans got other individual wins from Buhr in the 100 breast-stroke (1:09.20), Buechel in the 500 freestyle (5:28.45) and diver Maddie Glaus (194.40).
Besides Witt, the Bulldogs picked up other wins from Mary Selden in the 100 freestyle (54.56) and Greenley in the 100 backstroke (1:02.15). The Bulldogs' 200 freestyle relay team of Witt, Kathryn Miletich, Abby and Mary Selden won in 1:42.42.
The 400 freestyle relay was also claimed by the Dogs’ team of Witt, Riley Wehr, Miletich and Mary Selden (3:44.85).