MUSCATINE, Iowa — Muscatine boys swimming coach Judd Anderson doesn’t think the possibility of winning his seventh career state title will be a big deal for Muskie senior Alex Walton.
The University of Missouri commit heads into Saturday’s high school state meet in Marshalltown with five total titles already. He has won the last two 100 backstroke titles and touched first in the 200 individual medley last season.
Walton was also a part of the state title-winning 200 medley relay teams in 2012 and 2013.
“He’s already established as one of the premier swimmers that has come through, especially here,” Anderson said. “[Two more titles] is only going to enhance that. It’s just fun to see it happen.”
Walton goes into this season’s state meet with the chance to become only the third Muscatine swimmer with seven combined state titles. Travis Greenwald (2010-2013) and Doug Felton (1960-63) are the others.
Winning his sixth and seventh state title really hasn’t crossed Walton’s mind much, though.
“I just want to get out there and compete and do my best,” Walton said. “Just looking at all of the state champions we have, to be at the top of those would be very special.”
Walton has the top qualifying time in both the 200 IM (1 minute, 53.11 seconds) and the 100 backstroke (49.76 seconds).
“He’s the guy on top right now,” Anderson said. “He is in a more comfortable position than he has been in any other year he’s gone there. We expect he is going to do well.”
He has the top time in the 100 backstroke by 1.4 seconds and there is a 1.04 gap between him and Cedar Rapids Washington's Nick Saulnier in the 200 IM.
“I feel pretty confident in the 100 back at least,” Walton said. “If it’s on, I don’t think there is anybody in the state that can beat me in that. The 200 IM, that’s always a tough one. I am focusing more on my IM this season.”
The Muskies are also sending two relay teams to the state meet: The 200 medley relay has the 17th-best seed time of 1:41.24 while the 400 freestyle relay has the 15th-best time in 3:22.19.
“They score 12 [relay teams], so getting points would be a real positive finish to the season,” Anderson said. “If that doesn’t happen, getting a better time is the goal.”
Walton, Matt Sovers, Hunter Petersen and Ian Hilbrandt will compete in the medley relay.
Hilbrant said the team feels a bit better about the medley relay.
“We are more toward the center of the pool and competing with teams that aren’t 3 to 4 seconds faster than us,” Hilbrandt said. “We really need to catch momentum going into this race.”
For Sovers, it is his last race as a Muskie and the second time he has been to the state meet. He was also a part of the medley relay team at last season's state meet.
“I want to end the year with a good swim,” Sovers said. “I didn’t swim the way I wanted to at districts, so it’s nice to have another shot at it and hopefully this coming Saturday I can get the job done.”
Walton, Hilbrant and Petersen will also swim in the freestyle relay along with freshman John Wieskamp.
“It’s great that I got the opportunity to be on the team,” Wieskamp said. “I am hoping I can make it again next year and this is just the first step of my whole career as a high school athlete.”
Petersen said it was great to get two relay teams to the state meet.
“I think it will be pretty fun,” Petersen said. “We have pretty good times and it’s the last year for Alex and Matt, and we are going to try and make the best out of it.”