There were two dates circled on the Marauders swim teams' calendars (aside from the state meet): the Brophy meet and their own state qualifier they would be hosting.
"It went a lot smoother," said head coach Brendon Kenney. "It actually went really well. We had the few run-throughs during the course of the year, so it was nice that for the big one, everything worked out just right."
Brophy came and went with the Marauders having a good showing, and then it was time to countdown the days until eight schools from across Northern Arizona ventured into Cottonwood to take part in the Marauder Invite.
"It went really well, surprisingly, better than I thought it was going to be," said sophomore Kim Rogers.
The invite offered teams the unique opportunity to all compete against each other. The teams are all familiar with each other and how they swim, as the teams regularly dual throughout the season, but the invite brought everyone together, with the added benefit of the tournament being a state-qualifying meet.
"This one, there's a little more at stake," Kenney said. "It was a qualifier, which was exciting."
For Mingus Union, the usual suspects impressed, but there was an added bonus. The girls' 200 freestyle relay team, consisting of Emily Doris, Alison Bauers, Kim Rogers and Anna Luther, earned a provisional state qualifying time while showing off the depth on the girls side of the team.
"Our relay team was the 'A' relay and it went really well," Rogers said. "We didn't PR or anything, but we still qualified. My individual backstroke, I qualified for that, too. It wasn't a PR again, but it was a qualifying time."
That was the fourth provisional qualifying time a girls relay team earned, with the other three coming from the No. 1 team. The depth on the girls' side of things was able to carry Mingus to a first place finish with 453 points, 102 more than second place Flagstaff. With Kenney able to put almost the maximum number of swimmers in each race (four) and most of them finishing in the top-16, which scored for teams, there was little doubt as to what team would claim top honors.
"With the depth on the girls side, its easier for us to go for all three (relays)," Kenney said.
The boys were a different story. Without the luxury of depth like the girls, Kenney and assistant coach Tyler Novak decided to only swim their top swimmers in two relays and two individual events, instead of three relays and one personal race.
"We did amazing," said sophomore Caleb Furey.
Even though the boys did not have a backup relay team earn a qualifier, the 200 freestyle relay team did something just as impressive by chopping six seconds off their time, 1:57.72.
"The boys 200 free relay was phenomenal, it was a great race," Kenney said. "They dropped six second off their previous time, they're now 10 seconds faster than what they were swimming last year at state. That was a fun race. Everyone was watching that one."
The team, consisting of Sean Williams, Furey, Jared Cutshaw and Dylan Wilber continued to impress. In addition to the relay qualifier, both Williams and Furey nabbed individual provisional qualifiers as well.
Automatic qualifiers remain elusive for the Marauders, but Kenney has a few swimmers that could possibly swim to an automatic qualifier.
"Its one of those things where an automatic time is a really great time, and an automatic time generally, its supposed to be very tough to get because they fill 32 spots, for individuals, at state, and very few of those 32 spots are automatic times, at least last year very few were," Kenney said. "Really, they should be a very hard thing to get."
Rogers and Leah Mount also picked up provisional qualifiers from their races. While both girls did not swim to any new PR's in their races, they still swam strong enough to get qualifiers. Rogers earned a provisional state qualifier, she swam a 1:09.89 in the 100 backstroke and Mount got hers in the 50 (27.26 seconds) and 100 freestyle (1:00.60).
"On the girls' side, Leah swam very well for us individually again," Kenney said. "She was a little disappointed because it wasn't her fastest time, but she still swam very well in those events."
The Marauders have three events left before state. They travel to Sedona to dual the Scorpions and cap off the regular season with two qualifying meets, the Craig Cummins Open and the Santan Invitational.
"We had to come in expecting to win, because we knew that a lot of these teams knew what to put their swimmers in to beat us, it didn't work, but we just had to change our mindset and come in like 'we're going to win this meet'" Furey said. "These upcoming meets, I don't think there's any new teams we're going to face, so it's going to be the same mentality that we got to go in expecting to win."