Speed demon Marler set for stateJamestown High School swimming star Willy Marler does not lack confidence. And for good reason. Just a sophomore, Marler has proven to be the top sprinter in the state this season, and can settle any debate on the topic once and for all this weekend at the state swimming and diving championships in Grand Forks, beginning with the prelims today at the Hyslop Sports Center on the campus of UND.
Jamestown High School swimming star Willy Marler does not lack confidence.
And for good reason.
Just a sophomore, Marler has proven to be the top sprinter in the state this season, and can settle any debate on the topic once and for all this weekend at the state swimming and diving championships in Grand Forks, beginning with the prelims today at the Hyslop Sports Center on the campus of UND.
Marler enters the state meet with the fastest time in the 50 free (22.14) and second-best mark in the 100 free (48.87). He did have the top mark in the 100 all season until Jacob Weible of West Fargo, a senior, posted a 48.75 at the East Region meet on Saturday.
His top competitor in the 50 is Minot’s Joe Burns, who became the first swimmer to beat Marler all season in the 50 at the West Region meet last Saturday.
Still, when he’s on, Marler believes he’s the boy to beat.
“I feel like I should be a dominant swimmer every time I get in the water,” he said. “I’m a very competitive person. I don’t like losing at all. Basically, losing is not an option.”
Marler’s top competitors are both seniors, which is scary considering the JHS standout still has 2 years left. The scenario was similar last year when as a ninth-grader, he was up against a loaded field of seniors.
“When all those guys graduated I felt like it was my time to shine,” he said. “I feel like if I swim my best, nobody is going to beat me.”
Coach Marney Shirley knew the first time she saw Marler cut through the water she had a star on her hands. But nothing is guaranteed against the top competition in the state.
“We’ve known for a long time Willy was a blue-chipper,” Shirley said. “But he’s still young and prone to feeling nerves in big situations.
“The key for him is to just go swim. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. If he lets his natural come through he’s going to go really fast.”
Marler heads the Big 3 for the Blue Jays, which also includes juniors Landon Ostlie and Chasen Miller.
Marler and Ostlie both hold the school record in their two individual events and the 400 free relay team they anchor set the team record at the state meet last year and should challenge again Saturday.
Ostlie, like Marler, has been among the most prominent swimmers in the state since he was a freshman. The two represent one of, if not the best, 1-2 tandems in the state.
Miller is no slouch either.
He has the fourth-best time in the 200 and also should challenge for a spot in the ‘A’ final in the 200 free.
“Landon and Chasen are some really good swimmers. I like swimming with them. We feel like we should do really well in the relays,” Marler said.
Seniors Dave Reimers (200 IM, backstroke), Logan Rasmussen (fly, breaststroke) and Phillip Mangin (200, 500), plus sophomore Michael Syverson (50, fly) are also qualified for the state meet.
But all eyes are likely to beat on Marler, which doesn’t bother him.
“I kind of feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said. “Like I was born to swim.”
Sun sports writer Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com