NEWTON - It came down to the last race, but it was the events leading up to that stage that put the Marshalltown boys' swim team in such a precarious position.
In the end, Newton's advantage was too great for the Bobcats to overcome, and the Cardinals came away with a 92-78 dual meet victory on Thursday night.
Marshalltown rearranged its two relay teams for the 400-meter freestyle finale to try and erase Newton's eight-point lead with a 1-2 finish. The Bobcats picked up first and third, instead, though a disqualification took the first-place points away from Marshalltown's long-shot comeback attempt.
"We came out a little flat to start the meet, it didn't seem like the guys were mentally prepared to go tonight," said MHS head coach Mike Loupee. "But they gained momentum throughout the meet and the guys got more and more fired up, but we were just too far behind."
Newton led by as many as 14 points after winning four of the first five events. The Bobcats started their comeback when Paul Landherr claimed first place in the 100 freestyle, and the deficit slimmed to six when Sam Carter and John Mahlstede went 1-2 in the 400 freestyle.
Two events later, Marshalltown went 1-3-5 in the 100 backstroke. Mahlstede scored the top spot, Blair Van Staalduine was third, and contributing in his first varsity meet was Ryan Hass, who scored critical fifth-place points to shave Newton's lead to four.
Newton 92, Marshalltown 78
(Champion plus MHS placewinners)
200 MEDLEY RELAY - 1. NWT (Norcross, Pinto, Miller, Bunker) 1:57.83; 2. MHS (Mahlstede, Dulaney, Van Staalduine, Landherr) 1:58.17.
200 FREESTYLE - 1. Sam Carter, MHS, 2:08.74; 4. Hunter Barnard, MHS, 2:24.52.
200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY - 1. Matheus Pinto, NWT, 2:20.26; 2. Raymond Dulaney, MHS, 2:33.34; 4. Connor Cope, MHS, 2:44.60.
50 FREESTYLE - 1. Luke Norcross, NWT, 26.62; 2. Paul Landherr, MHS, 26.87; 4. Daniel Lothe, MHS, 28.91.
100 BUTTERFLY - 1. Brandon Miller, NWT, 1:09.03; 2. Blair Van Staalduine, MHS, 1:12.13; 4. Cole Podhajsky, MHS, 1:15.40; 5. Barnard, MHS, 1:15.82.
100 FREESTYLE - 1. Landherr, MHS, 1:01.28; 4. Lothe, MHS, 1:04.95.
400 FREESTYLE - 1. Carter, MHS, 4:36.74; 2. John Mahlstede, MHS, 4:47.71; 4. Podhajsky, MHS, 5:12.24.
200 FREESTYLE RELAY - 1. NWT (Norcross, Bunker, Jolivette, Pinto) 1:45.12; 2. MHS (Barnard, Carlon, Heinrichs, Carter) 1:54.91; 3. MHS (Lothe, Cope, Dulaney, Podhajsky) 1:55.31).
100 BACKSTROKE - 1. Mahlstede, MHS, 1:06.25; 3. Van Staalduine, MHS, 1:08.50; 5. Ryan Hass, MHS, 1:23.95.
100 BREASTSTROKE - 1. Pinto, NWT, 1:10.03; 2. Dulaney, MHS, 1:14.10; 4. Cope, MHS, 1:20.47.
400 FREESTYLE RELAY - 1. NWT (Smith, Miller, Fitzgerald, Jolivette) 4:11.40; 2. MHS (Barnard, Devine, Landherr, Mahlstede) 4:13.31.
"That was a big fifth place at the time," said Loupee. "We did a lane switch and put him next to the Newton kid he had to beat and he went out and did it. The coaching staff was proud of the effort he put in."
The host Cardinals went back in front by eight after Matheus Pinto broke the school record in winning the 100 breaststroke. Still with a shot at a meet victory, MHS realigned its relays for the all-or-nothing finale.
"We started swimming mornings this week so the guys are tired," Loupee said. "It's been a grueling stretch, but in this one we had the opportunity to win. We lost an awful lot of close races in this one, so we've got to work on our finishing.
"Newton swims in a meter pool and we're used to yards, so the guys' bodies were ready to be done swimming. But we don't want to use any of those excuses."
Carter came away with two of Marshalltown's four event victories, winning the 200 freestyle as well as the 400 free.
Marshalltown has a week to prepare for one last dual meet before the holiday break, as Southeast Polk visits the MHS pool on Dec. 20.