Stillwater News Press


November 7, 2013

Stillwater swimmers sink Ponca City

STILLWATER, Okla. — For Stillwater High School swimmer Charles Clark, the most suspenseful even came in the 100-meter butterfly. He heard the cheers and knew somebody was right on his heels.

And when he finally touched the wall and looked up, there was his teammate Matthew Tree floating in the pool next to him with a big smile on his face.

That’s just what kind of night it was for the Stillwater High School swim team as they took on Ponca City Thursday at the Stillwater Family YMCA.

“I think we did great,” Clark said. “There were a bunch of people that had some great swims. ... It was just a good effort all around from everyone.”

What little suspense and anxiety Stillwater coach Kurt Goebel had before the first swimmers hit the pool quickly vanished, as well.

The Pioneers and Lady Pioneers dominated from the start, winning 20 of the 22 events — most by a wide margin — as the Pioneers topped Ponca City 120-39, while the Lady Pioneers won 100-68.

“I wasn’t really surprised because people have been working hard in practice,” Clark said. “It’s always good to drop time off of your events.”

Clark may not have been surprised, but Goebel said he was a little shocked by some performances. But perhaps the biggest surprise came not from the typical stars like Clark or Brooke Njaa, but some younger, inexperienced swimmers.

“The depth was a surprise for us,” Goebel said. “We had some athleticism in there that I was very pleased to see. We had some kids that have just been in the water for a couple weeks and they were jumping in and doing the 4x100 relay and we were surprised by it.”

But perhaps the biggest surprise came from a freshman, Isabel Smith.

Smith not only helped two of those relay teams win by 20 seconds each, she also blew the competition out of the pool in her individual events, finishing 17 seconds ahead of Ponca City’s Katy Blando in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:16.56. She also won the 400-meter freestyle by 29 seconds, topping Samantha Wigley with a time of 5:01.72.

“She’s showing a lot of athleticism out there,” Goebel said. “A lot of the girls are. We just have to figure out how we’re going to put that whole thing together. The competition will get tougher, but I think she’s enjoying swimming high school and that’s kind of the bottom line.”

Smith was far from alone, however. Ben Cowles surprised a lot of people by edging Nate Carman in the 200-meter freestyle and then edging Carman out again in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:14.63.

“It definitely helps (when you’re competing against a teammate),” Clark said. “You constantly have somebody trying to beat you and then maybe they beat you the next race. It just goes back and forth all the time.”

But while some of Stillwater’s big guns slugged it out in the water, others like Sarah Carpenter and Baby Phares followed their wake and turned in their own impressive times.

“The ones that really surprised me were really these newbies,” Goebel said. “They had been struggling a little bit over practice and they got in here and I guess they decided they wanted to swim. Really what it does is it shows me that I have something to work with.”

And with six swim meets on the road before they return home against Broken Arrow on Dec. 12 — including Saturday’s Union Invitational — Goebel will no doubt hope to use that depth.

“I think our depth will end up giving us a chance to win a state title in Class 5A for both boys and girls,” Goebel said. “That’s what’s important. They’re in the same deal, we just have to get to where we put ourselves in a position to win it ... I think if our boys keep on improving that they may have a shot at it.”

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