Returning to the water with a letter are (front, l-r) Quinn Bauman, Drew Chamberlain, Gus Grimstad; (back) James VanderVelden, John Starrett, Ryan Lubahn and Gareth Sweet. Not pictured is Adam Jones. (Photo courtesy of Tami Bohr)
Returning to the water with a letter are (front, l-r) Quinn Bauman, Drew Chamberlain, Gus Grimstad; (back) James VanderVelden, John Starrett, Ryan Lubahn and Gareth Sweet. Not pictured is Adam Jones. (Photo courtesy of Tami Bohr)

Excited about the prospect of defending their conference title the Decorah boys’ swim team enters the 2020 season with a positive attitude, a strong history of swimming and a host of talent.

Back for her fifth season at the helm is Coach Laura Storlie.


Seven to state

There was no starting from scratch in 2019 as 11 letter winners were ready to dive into the season. Included on the list of key returnees were four athletes with state experience — Gus Grimstad, Jackson Penny, Andrew Heine and Bradyn Hook.

As the season rolled on, Decorah continued to post top finishes with the season culminating in a North Central Conference title with 466 points, nearly 100 points ahead of second-place Grinnell (354). The Vikings had four events finish on top of the podium, with two finishes claiming silver and five taking bronze.

The momentum continued to build with seven events qualifying for the state event, including two relays — the 200-medley relay and the 400-freestyle relay. Jackson Penny was a two-time individual qualifier with tickets punched to state in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. Also qualifying individually in two events was Grimstad, marking his third trip to state in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Drew Chamberlain earned his bid to state in the 500 freestyle.

Decorah finished the 2020 season in 15th place at state with 35 points. The 200-medley relay collected points for its 10th place finish in 1:38.86. Members of the relay were Chamberlain, Penny, Grimstad and Cole Huebner. Grimstad rolled into his individual events, finishing eighth in the 100 butterfly in 50.85 seconds and later posted a time of 53.61 seconds in the 100 backstroke, good for 14th place. Penny wrapped up the season in 14th place in 1:01.29 in the 100 breaststroke and finished 17th in the 200 individual medley in 1:58.98. It was four points for the 15th place finish in the 400 free relay. Combining for a time of 3:19.39 were Huebner, Bradyn Hook, Penny and Grimstad. In the distance race of the 500 freestyle, Chamberlain finished in 4:57.84, good for 23rd place.

Graduating at the end of the year were Andrew Heine, Isaac Dixon, Jackson Penny and Braydon Saltou.


Coming back

Leading the Vikings into the new season will be a crew of eight letter winners, including Grimstad, Chamberlain, Ryan Lubahn, Quinn Bauman, Gareth Sweet, John Starrett, James VanderVelden and Adam Jones.

“We also have lots of newcomers to build our foundation on,” said Coach Storlie. 

Joining the team is senior Nick Stavroplus and freshmen Dominic Bigalk, Isaac Knaack, Simon Kutz, Nat Roberts, Mason Cote, Dylan Hogan and Isaac Ericson.

“We are hopeful and will work as hard as we can with the opportunities we have,” the coach said. “Our main goal is keeping everyone healthy and safe throughout the season. Our season looks a lot different and every day is a new challenge. With our first week of practice shared with the girls, we are focusing on getting back into shape and perfecting our technique.”


Home once

Decorah hosts just one home meet this season.

The Vikes will welcome Mason City, Vinton-Shellsburg and Waterloo West Thursday, Dec. 17, at 5 p.m. at the Luther Natatorium.

The district meet is Saturday Feb. 6, with the state meet Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City.