By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater swimmer Charles Clark watched as two of his teammates in the 400-meter freestyle relay had built up a seemingly insurmountable lead in the final race of the night.
Still there were plenty of nerves, swimming for the first time as a member of the Stillwater’s ‘A’ team.
As it turned out those nerves seemed to propel Clark through the water, helping the relay team finish with a time of 3:59.95 to lead the Pioneers to a 148-132 victory over Edmond Memorial Tuesday at the Stillwater Family YMCA.
“That was really nice,” Clark said. “It was actually my first time on that ‘A’ relay. It was a fun time. I wasn’t paying attention to the time at all, I was just trying to keep ahead of that guy in Lane 4.”
“That was good for him,” Stillwater coach Kurt Goebel said. “I knew that they had two of their big studs in there and Charles held them off. I would have like to have seen a couple better splits from the other three, but whenever you get out there is kind of hard to gage how hard to swim because there’s nobody next to you.”
The 400-meter relay may have been one of the bright spots for the Stillwater swim team, but after having most of the week off due to Thanksgiving Goebel said he has definitely seen areas where both teams can improve.
“We didn’t swim very well for the main reason that we didn’t practice,” Goebel said. “The last time we practiced was Wednesday and, boy, it showed. The kids didn’t seem very focused and we just didn’t swim up to our capabilities. The boys ended up winning, but that was because we had more numbers.”
The Lady Pioneers ended up dropping their meet 164-101, despite a first-place from Sydney Goad in the 50-meter freestyle, with a time of 30.14 seconds. Goad also finished second in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:17.21 and was part of the three Stillwater relay teams that placed second in each of their respective events.
“I thought we did well considering we just came back from a Thanksgiving break,” said Brooke Njaa, who finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter individual medley. “We all had some really good times and it was close. It was good to challenge ourselves with girls that are in the same kind of area as you are as far as speed goes.”
Njaa didn’t want to make excuses for the loss, but she did say that the break definitely hurt her in the 200-meter individual medley.
“It actually hurt us quite a bit,” Njaa said. “I gained three seconds on the IM, which kind of sucks, but I’ll get there. I’ll get back to where I was. I just have to work harder in practice. That’s all I can do — just challenge myself.”
While Njaa and the girls will likely go back to the drawing board to challenge themselves in practice, the boys were the ones being challenged by Edmond Memorial on Tuesday.
Along with his finish in the 400-meter relay, Clark finished first in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:07.81. Mac Johnson also took first in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 1:03.54, while Francisco Ochoa was first in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 26.42.
Johnson also finished second in the 200-meter individual medley with a time of 2:28.93 and Ochoa was second in the 400-meter freestyle with time of 4:35.00.
“We didn’t really know where we stood on points, so we assumed that it was going to come down to each race,” Clark said. “I thought we swam pretty well overall, so I was happy with the way we performed.”
With a week off until they host Union, Goebel said he hopes to have his teams more prepared — starting with a hard practice on Wednesday.
“We just had too big of a layover,” Goebel said. “In the same note, sometimes these things are good to do because it tells the kids where they’re at and that they have to work to get to where they want to get to. That’s what we’re going to be going over tomorrow — what we need to get to because we’re not where we want to be.”
If anything Goebel said Tuesday’s meet should open some eyes for the squad. Goebel is just hopeful it doesn’t backfire on him.
“I hope it was (a little humbling),” Goebel said. “I just hope it doesn’t do the opposite and discourage them. When you only have nine kids it is awful hard to hang with teams like Edmond Memorial.”