The Marquette Mustangs put their undefeated dual match winning streak on the line against Eureka before defending their championship in the Kirkwood Invitational in a big week of action for the girls swim team.
The Mustangs will host home Suburban Conference Yellow Pool dual match with Eureka at 4:30 p.m. Monday (Jan. 13). Marquette then will compete in the two-day Kirkwood Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
Marquette is 5-0 in duals this season. The Mustangs have recorded 55 straight wins in dual matches.
The Mustangs are coming off winning the COMO Invitational in Columbia. Marquette finished first with 219 points. Eureka was second with 201 points. It was the fourth consecutive victory in the prestigious Columbia meet for the Mustangs.
“Based on COMO results, the Eureka dual should be a great test for both teams in a head-to-head format,” Marquette coach Joe Schoedel said. “I know many of the girls know each other from club (team), so this is a meet that they have had circled on their calendar for some time now.
The Mustangs won the Kirkwood Invitational last winter.
“The competition will be tough as always,” Schoedel said about the Kirkwood meet. “There are a lot of top-tier teams there, and will allow us to see a couple teams that we haven’t yet seen this season. It should be fun and fast as always.”
The defending Class 2 state champion Mustangs are having a solid season again. The squad has won both of its meets — the Marquette Relay champs and the COMO Invitational — this season.
The COMO, held at the University of Missouri in Columbia, had 45 teams competing. It’s something the team looks forward to each winter.
“COMO is definitely a big focus point for the girls,” Schoedel said. “It is arguably the biggest meet of the year aside from state. Getting to go out of town, staying in a hotel, and make a big trip out of it just makes the whole experience more fun for the girls.
“This was a good test for the team to see how good we still are after losing a very strong and deep senior class last year. I always believed we are still that top-tier team that can compete for a State trophy. Now the girls believe it, too.”
Marquette finished first with 219 points. That was down from last year’s total of 311 points.
“Obviously losing that big senior class hurt our depth a bit,” Schoedel said. “This was a good chance for some younger girls to step up and fill those spots, and they did.”
Eureka second-place finish at COMO caught Schoedel’s attention.
“If there were a most improved award for a team, it would go to Eureka,” Schoedel said. “They’ve got some help this year that makes them a very competitive team.”
Marquette won COMO with any girl finishing in first place in any event. That did not surprise Schoedel.
“Just like state last year,” Schoedel said. “It’s a complement to the team’s depth. COMO has some elite swimmers there, so winning an individual event is tough. As always, we rely on our depth and being a well rounded team. We really have no qoute off unquote events, which certainly includes diving. We know that to be successful, everyone matters and has to do their part.”
The 200 medley relay finished second in 1 minute, 50.10 seconds. Haley Hume (junior), Hailey Benting (junior), Amanda Yu (senior) and Maya Esparza (sophomore) swam on the relay. The time is the region’s best in the event.
“We trailed Eureka for most of the relay, but Maya, our anchor, swam a personal best and pulled from behind to touch out their relay to finish second overall,” Schoedel said. “Right now, it’s the best time in the area, but we have a very competitive conference, and I know by the end of the year several teams will field very competitive medley’s as well.”
Several individuals performed well in the meet. The girls who placed top eight were sophomore Carsyn Cosman (50 free, 100 free), Yu (200 IM, 100 fly), Benting (200 IM, 100 breast), senior Abby Bomball (500 free), and senior Anna Mae Williams (diving).
To win COMO again was huge for his squad, Schoedel said.
“After losing such a fast group of seniors, I think some of the girls doubted we could repeat our success from past seasons,” Schoedel said. “This was a great meet to erase some of that self-doubt and show that we are still the team to beat.
To win COMO four years in a row is something Schoedel is very happy about.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this program,” Schoedel said. “Every year I tell the girls that they need to keep getting better, and every year they continue to step up. They encourage each other, push each other, and even compete with each other to continue to improve.”
As for the events on the schedule this week and beyond, Schoedel said he is not looking too far ahead.
“We’re just taking it one meet at a time,” Schoedel said.