After going undefeated in duals this fall, the Ironwood Ridge boys swimming team proved its local dominance once again by winning the Southern Arizona Regional Qualifier last weekend.
The Nighthawks won the 19-team meet, a final tuneup before this weekend’s state meet in Mesa. The team posted three individual wins and one relay victory.
“We show up. We’ve been on time and on target,” I-Ridge coach Anne Fitzsimmons said. “It’s huge just to qualify for state.”
Peaking at the right time, I-Ridge hopes to improve on its 33rd-place finish in Division I last year. The Star recently caught up with the Nighthawks’ top four swimmers, who are all on the 200 medley relay team, to find out more. Here they are in the order and leg they swim:
Just a freshman, Isaac Stump is arguably already I-Ridge’s best swimmer. He holds one of the state’s top 50 times in four of the eight individual events, including 19th in the 100-yard breast stroke with an area-best of 1 minute 2.43 seconds. He hit that mark over the weekend and is hoping to cut two seconds off by state when he swims that and the 200 freestyle.
“I wasn’t planning on doing the 100 breast at state, but after I saw my place I was really happy,” Stump said. “The Phoenix competition will definitely be more intensity, but I have high expectations for myself.”
In a sport that’s all about speed, the Nighthawks’ fastest swimmer is junior Collin Murphy. Murphy won the 50 freestyle Saturday in 22.95 seconds; he swam it in 22.52 seconds earlier this year.
“It’s not about place. It’s about the time that makes you think you can push it,” Murphy said.
Murphy will swim the 50-yard freestyle this weekend, and will be participating in the 100-meter breast stroke. He finished 10th in that event with a time of 1:01.34 last year.
Already having exceeded his time in the 100 butterfly from last year at state, senior Thomas Golden hopes seven years of hard work will pay off this weekend. He swam it in 54.50 seconds last month and is less than five seconds off the state’s best mark. Golden will also join, Stump, Murphy and Simmons for the 200 medley relay, the team’s highest-seeded relay.
“It’s the little bit of teamwork that you get in such an individual sport,” Golden said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Senior Craig Simmons will be swimming at state for his third time in four years, after winning the 100 butterfly on Saturday in 55.66 seconds to qualify for state. Simmons, who didn’t make it to state as a junior, had been getting closer to an individual qualifying time in recent weeks and knew last weekend would be his final chance.
“It’s exciting to see the best swimmers and best teams on the big stage and know we are representing our school,” Simmons said.