Alex Stone heard about Moline’s Peter Son through mutual friends.
The Bettendorf freshman knew how stiff the challenge was entering the 200-yard individual medley in Thursday night's dual against the Maroons.
“I was pretty nervous I was going to be second,” Stone said.
That event proved to be a momentum-shifter for the Bulldogs.
Powered by Stone’s come-from-behind win over Son, multiple season bests and a new pool record in the 200 freestyle relay, Bettendorf defeated their cross-river opponent 91.5-78.5 at Bettendorf High School.
“That was a big lift for us and probably the catalyst for the whole meet,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Ahrens said. “It was a fun night.”
It came down to the wire between Stone and Son.
Leading entering the breaststroke, Stone began to fall behind, and the Moline senior jumped ahead by 1.3 seconds. The freestyle was the last chance for Stone to mount a comeback.
“At first the pain was starting to get to me, but then that last 25 I was like, ‘He’s right there,’” Stone said. “I’ve been working on freestyle a lot this season and I try to get better coming back home.”
His split of 27.97 seconds was fast enough to out-touch Son at the wall and win by three one-hundredths of a second.
It was a performance that impressed both teammates and coaches.
“It was almost like an Olympic swim,” senior Andrew Ottavianelli said. “I didn’t even think he had it until the very last stroke. IM definitely set everything up.”
What followed was a sweep of the 50-yard freestyle, going 1-2 in the 100-yard freestyle and Stone claiming the 500-yard freestyle.
Then, an 11-year record was shattered.
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The quartet of Ottavianelli, Luke Nickles, Sam Mitvalsky and Charlie Bunn broke the pool record held since 2008 by over a second, triumphing in the 200 freestyle relay in 1 minute, 27.32 seconds.
That time is now the fastest in the state of Iowa in Bettendorf’s bid to repeat as state champions in that event.
“It’s kind of a big deal when you break a pool record and leave a legacy for years to come,” Ottavianelli said. “Wasn’t necessarily our sole goal, but we definitely were trying to push that relay.”
They couldn’t feel the same euphoria in the 400 freestyle relay.
Adding in Stone to that foursome, their time of 3:13.41 fell short of the pool record but is now the quickest time in the state.
“That was the tougher of the two goals tonight,” Ahrens said. “We got to clean up some things. 3:13 is not too shabby.”
Bunn took two individual victories in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle. Ottavianelli claimed the 50-yard freestyle.
Moline made them work for it with three events remaining.
Trailing by 21, the Maroons swept the 100-yard backstroke and went 1-3 in the 100-yard breaststroke. They were down by seven with the 400 relay upcoming.
Moline wound up taking second.
“Our guys swam good,” said Maroons first-year head coach Michael Roche. “I’m happy with everyone's performance.”
Austin Morris (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly), Son (100 breaststroke) and the 200 medley relay were winners for Moline.
Roche was pleased with how they swam as they get ready to go for their second straight sectional title coming up next month.
“It’s always good to have some good races for them,” Roche said. “We really don’t have too much competition in our conference. You can never be satisfied, and hopefully it gets them ready for the postseason.”