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Alt wins 200 IM for Dodgers vs. Maroons

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge’s Balke Castro competes in the 200 freestyle Thursday night in the Dodger pool. For more photos, visit CU at messengernews.net

The Fort Dodge boys swim program waited 21 long months to perform in front of a crowd that resembled normal again.

With the energy and enthusiasm of fans filling the Dodger pool area for the first time since the pre-pandemic days, head coach Ashley Beaumont’s squad went back to work against West Des Moines Dowling on Thursday. The Maroons prevailed, 131-39, using their depth and experience to pull away from a young FDSH squad.

Dowling placed eighth at the state meet a year ago. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are still trying to pinpoint an identity as the wide-eyed nature of competing against CIML heavyweights hopefully subsides.

“It was great to be back in familiar surroundings and see the smiling faces of people who support our program,” Beaumont said. “After an entire year of (restricted capacity), it was nice to have that buzz back in our home pool. I know the kids felt it and appreciated it.

“We don’t take things like that for granted, especially after (an entire season) of not having it.”

Fort Dodge struggled to keep up with Dowling, but newcomer Dylan Alt proved he belongs. Alt, a freshman at Algona High School, earned the Dodgers’ lone win with a top performance in the 200 individual medley.

Alt prevailed in 2:05.47.

The rookie was also a runner-up in the 500 freestyle wtih a time of 5:02.89.

“Dylan had a terrific night,” Beaumont said. “Even by his own (lofty) standards, he had some great times. You can really see the work he put into the offseason paying off.

“My hope is that Dylan’s drive will continue to be a positive influence on his teammates. It’s good for the others to see and build around his competitiveness.”

The Maroons, who have nearly triple the number of athletes compared to the Dodgers’ roster, had only one double winner: Tommy Hancock in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke. There were four other individual champs from Dowling, which also swept the relay events.

The Fort Dodge quartet of James Orres, Kevin O’Connor, Blake Castro and Alt took second in the 200 medley relay (1:57.83). O’Connor, a junior who missed Tuesday’s season-opening meet with an illness, was a runner-up in the 100 butterfly (1:06.23).

“Kevin performed really well. His 100 fly time was great,” Beaumont said. “Kevin’s always been very versatile for us, but we haven’t really found his ‘main events,’ so to speak. I think that’s the next step: to get him into a comfort zone (with specific races).

“James did a nice job, too. So did Blake. Really, we had time drops across the board, even compared to just Tuesday. That’s encouraging to see. We have to just keep focusing on improving every single day.”

The Dodgers return to action at Boone on Saturday.

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