SIOUX CITY | Alvin and the Chipmunks plunged into a pool of wonderful memories for their coach, who considered the amazing season which will end with Saturday’s state meet at the Marshalltown YMCA.
“You chipmunks,” were words that suddenly came out of the mouth of Sioux City Spartans boys swimming coach Eric Hoak one day when Nathan Gobell, Albert Pham and Brenndan Gorski left together.
These three are involved in six of the seven events in which the Missouri River Activities Conference champions will compete at Marshalltown. The Spartans went undefeated in eight dual meets this season and won the Des Moines Hoover Invitational.
Then, the Spartans won what Hoak believes is the program’s first district title ever last Saturday, outscoring Fort Dodge 398-366 in the eight-team meet at Fort Dodge.
“Albert is brilliant,” said Hoak, who shared district coach of the year honors with his assistant coach, Nick McBride.
“He has a 35 ACT score and fits in as Simon. Nate is the leader of the group, but is mischievous and likes to get under your skin, so he’d be Alvin. Brenndan is quieter than the rest, soft-spoken and is the fit for Theodore.”
Gobell and Gorski swim the second and third legs, respectively, in the 200 freestyle relay, which enters state with the fourth-fastest qualifying time, 1:27.43. Cody Ott is the lead swimmer in the event while Billy Rankin will anchor.
Gobell, Gorski and Rankin return from the 200 freestyle foursome that placed seventh at last year’s state meet, timed in 1:27.43.
Gobell is a four-time state qualifier whose second-place 52.59 in the 100 butterfly at the district is faster than the 54.03 he recorded while placing 20th at last year’s state meet. Gobell will also compete in the 200 medley relay along with George Hubbard, Pham and Ott.
“Nate knows what to expect,” said Hoak. “He knows how to get prepared. His demeanor trickles down to everyone. He gets them to relax. Nate has allowed me to set goals based on past performances. The more I know them, the more I know how to train and push them. He’s a leader in or outside the water.”
Gorski will lead off the 400 freestyle relay, followed by Hubbard, Pham and Rankin. Gorski and Ott will also compete in the 50 freestyle.
Rankin is also entered in both the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. Ott will also compete in the 50 freestyle.
“Every single guy who’s going to state qualified faster than their lifetime best,” said Hoak. “All four in the medley swam their personal bests in their leg of the event. Gobell made a statement in the butterfly. He’s three-tenths of a second away from Andrew Pham’s record.”
Andrew Pham set the 100 butterfly record of 52.67 last year. Hoak believes that if Gobell breaks that mark, he’ll finish in the top 10.
Hoak describes Rankin as an intense swimmer who also has potential to reach the top 10 in the 100 backstroke. Rankin is also part of the 400 freestyle relay that according to Hoak, has a shot to break the 1981 record of 3:15.10.
Season-best times were established at the district, even in events which didn’t qualify for the state meet.
“It took a whole team to do what we did,” said Hoak. “It was a huge accomplishment for all of them. It was a lot of hard work, especially for the seniors who had four years of dedication four months out of the year of morning and afternoon practices. That’s a lot of time in the water. Now, their hard work is coming through.”
Sioux City’s participating Saturday athletes come from six schools. Gobell is a senior from Bishop Heelan while fellow seniors Gorski and Hubbard are from East and MOC-Floyd Valley, respectively.
Pham, the lone junior, attends North. Rankin is a sophomore from Boyden-Hull while Ott is a sophomore from Le Mars.