Dodgers settle for 2nd at Garst Invite

With another Rusty Garst Invitational title hanging in the balance, the Fort Dodge boys swim team fell just short in its quest for a three-peat here Saturday afternoon.

Behind one gold medal and five silvers, the host Dodgers registered 232 points – 49.5 behind last year’s total – at their 21st annual event. Waterloo West (235) took home top honors.

“We had a great day overall and were only down by one point going into the last event, so we can’t be disappointed,” FDSH head coach Joel Greathouse said. “I thought Waterloo West would kind of run away with (the team championship), but they didn’t swim quite as well as I expected.

“On the other hand, we swam just a little bit better than what I figured coming in. The edge went to us in a lot of races that were close.”

Fort Dodge’s 200 medley relay quartet of senior Cal Brandt, freshman Nick Sanford, junior Josh Lee and sophomore Rob Leigh secured its third consecutive Rusty Garst crown by clocking a winning time of 1:46.29, narrowly downing Sioux City (Andrew Pham, Aaron Burkhart, Pablo Suarez and Quincy Markham, 1:47.22).

“We were just trying to get as many events as we could in the Top-12 because placing eighth, ninth or 10th always makes a big difference,” said Greathouse. “Our guys held their times, and not many people swam off (yesterday). We’re staying consistent and continuing to push to the top.”

Lee (50 freestyle, 23.02 and 100 freestyle, 51.46) and senior Alex Hage (100 backstroke, 1:00.86 and 200 freestyle, 1:57.57) each settled for a pair of individual runner-up efforts, while the 200 freestyle relay foursome of Leigh, Brandt, senior Austin Sanford and Lee (1:34.42) also placed second.

In addition, Brandt checked in third in both the 200 individual medley (2:12.08) and 100 butterfly (56.72), while Nick Sanford grabbed bronze in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.94).

“I think we’re right where we need to be at this point in the season,” Greathouse said. “Our guys are steadily dropping their times and are making improvement every outing. A performance like this should definitely give us a little boost now before heading to districts (the district meet will be held here Feb. 2).”

Nick Rafferty (200 individual medley, 2:07.76) claimed the lone individual victory for the Wahawks. Newton’s Matheus Pinto prevailed in both the 50 freestyle (22.03) and 100 freestyle (48.83).

Next meet for the Dodgers is Thursday when they welcome CIC Northern Division foe Ames. Start time is set for 6 p.m.