By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Everyone can see the changes surrounding the West High swimming team.
The Trojans graduated three seniors that accounted for 180 points at West High’s runner-up performance in last year’s state meet.
To put that departed point production into perspective West High scored 189 and 205 points on its way to state titles in 2014 and 2015.
Adding to the personnel changes, assistant coach Byron Butler took over the program from long-time coach Rob Miecznikowski who took the job leading the swim program at St. Ambrose.
From the first day of practice Butler and the Trojans accepted this year’s team would be different.
What the Trojans never conceded was idea of ending their success.
“The first day of practice we said, ‘here is the deal, we lost 180 points from our state team and usually 180 is pretty close to winning the meet by itself and so what does that mean for us this year?’” Butler explained. “Noah (Bruns) right away said, ‘Well now we do it’. Nothing changed for them. Their mentality is the same they have just seen that it’s a possibility and they still work just as hard.”
West High has back up that mentality this season with an undefeated dual season and a third-place finish last weekend at the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet.
The Trojans enter Saturday’s district meet at Southeast Polk intent on continuing to demonstrate that changes in personnel haven’t altered expectations at West High.
“We have that kind of attitude that it’s our turn now,” West High junior Lane Griffis said. “It’s fun because I know there are lot of teams that think now that we have lost our four best guys that we are not going to be as fast as we were before and we went undefeated in dual meets and kind of showed that we aren’t done yet.”
Gone from last year’s state runner-up squad are a trip of current division one swimmers in Aidan Keen (Missouri), Mark McGlaughlin (North Carolina State) and Will Scott (Iowa).
That group was the backbone of a three-year run of top-two state finishes for West High that helped raise the expectations in the program.
“It gives us a lot to look up to,” senior Noah Bruns said. “It makes us have big expectations and we train hard to fulfill those expectations.”
Bruns was a member of last year’s state qualifying 200 medley relay team and is one of a number of West High swimmers that have stepped into big roles as leaders this season under Butler.
“(Miecznikowski) taught me everything I know about high school and how West High runs, He has always had a great system in place,” Butler said. “It was a system of personal swimmer accountability, a team closeness and I’m just trying to foster those things. Guys like Noah (Bruns), Lane (Griffis), Sam Deyak, Ben Berhow, Brennon Keen they just make my job easy.”
Things kick up a notch for West High on Saturday at Southeast Polk.
Among the teams at the eight-team district meet are defending state champion Waukee, Ankeny and rising program City High.
West High doesn’t plan to budge from its spot after establishing itself as one of the top programs in the state.
“It definitely raises the bar and the expectations and it’s kind of cool because it makes you really want to live up to those expectations,” Griffis said of the past success. “It causes everyone to actually work harder to get to those expectations and keep the success and tradition at West High up.”
West High hopes to benefit from the return of Oliver Martin.
The Michigan football recruit has the fastest 50 freestyle time in the state this season and missed last week’s conference meet on a football recruiting trip.
Griffis enters with the third best time this season among district competitors in the 500 freestyle while all three West High relay teams have the third best times among district teams behind Waukee and Ankeny.
A big thing I talked to the guys about on Monday is our dye has already been cast in terms of our racing and training so we are ready to go and now we just are going to rest a little bit and get more ready,” Butler said. “I think we are ready, you we will see if I’m right or wrong on Saturday.”
City High is led by freshman Forrest Frazier who owns the second fastest 100 backstroke time in the state this season at 53.0 and has the fourth best 200 IM time.