CEDAR FALLS — Waterloo’s Carley Caughron is embracing the technical adjustments and speed work it will take to take the next step from a state placewinner into the city’s first state champion in more than three decades.
“She has every chance of winning state in two events,” Waterloo coach Jeff Kamp said. “We’ve got to get her to generate some more speed. She’s working hard.”
Caughron was part of the local talent on display Saturday in the Marcussen Invitational at Holmes Junior High. Area athletes won seven of 12 events during this year’s 10-team competition, while the other five titles went to perennial Wisconsin power Waukesha South, which ran away with the team title with 493 points.
Cedar Falls finished second with 367 points, followed by Dubuque Wahlert at 356.
“They stepped up big time and had some best times of the year,” Cedar Falls coach Scott Pinter said, assessing the Tigers’ performance.
Caughron joined Waukesha South distance swimmer Abby Carlson as the day’s only double individual event champions. The Waterloo standout broke away by using her new underwater turn to win the 50 freestyle in 24.67, while Cedar Falls’ Emma Clark was second in 25.13. In the next event, Caughron was nearly three seconds faster than runner-up Kendall Mallaro of Cedar Falls with a championship 100 fly time of 58.76.
“I really like it,” Caughron said, addressing the competition. “I like racing against fast teams, especially teams that we haven’t raced this season, yet. It helps me push myself and go faster.”
Currently sitting among the state’s top five in 50 freesyle and butterfly, Caughron is coming off a sophomore state meet in which she placed sixth in the fly and fourth in the individual medley. She’s attempting to become Waterloo’s first state champion since Teri Ross in 1987.
“We’re messing around with her underwaters a little bit, how many dolphin kicks she does, how far underwater she goes,” Kamp said. “She hasn’t lost all year.”
Reflecting upon what she learned as an underclassman, Caughron says patience is important as the season continues.
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“You’re not going to be where you want to be at the beginning of the season,” Caughron points out. “You need to be focused on where you are in the end. So far it’s been going really well.”
Cedar Falls sophomore Grace Frericks is another metro swimmer pursing her first state title.
A runner-up in the backstroke last season, Frericks has continued to remain one of the state’s top contenders in that event. Frericks pulled away from Waukesha’s Emma Gatzke late and won the backstroke 57.52-57.96 in a meet record time.
The sophomore is also challenging herself to swim new races beyond the backstroke and 100 freestyle. Frericks finished runner-up in the 200 freestyle and joined Grace Bobeldyk, Mallaro and Clark on a championship 400 freestyle relay after Waukesha’s team was disqualified for a false start.
Mallaro won the day’s most competitive race by out-touching Decorah’s Emma Bachelder in the 200 IM, 2:14.30-2:14.32. Bachelder passed Mallaro on the breaststroke before Mallaro regained the lead at the end of the freestyle portion of the event.
“She does club swimming so I’ve raced her (Bachelder) a few times,” Mallaro said. “I like racing her because it makes me work harder. On that last 50, I really gave it my all.
“It was a good race. I knew she was going to get me on the breaststroke, but I saw her after that and thought I might still have a chance so I just went after her. … I persevered and kept going.”
Bachelder went on to win the breaststroke by nearly two seconds over Waukesha’s Jessica Felske in 1:09.10.
Cedar Falls’ Ashton Syharath edged Waterloo’s Lauren Kimball, 476-435.6, in the diving competition that opened the meet.