With a new future for the Valparaiso University men’s swimming and diving team on the horizon, the Crusaders are set to dive into the pool for the 2007-2008 season. The Brown and Gold has a small, but talented squad for the upcoming season.
Fourth year head coach Bryan Morrison returns eight swimmers from last year’s squad which finished in seventh place in the Mid-Continent Conference standings. With the addition of five freshmen the Crusaders will compete in the Horizon League for the first time, marking Valpo’s first change in championships since the beginning of the 1992-1993 season.
Valpo also has a challenging schedule this year, which will see the Crusaders compete 12 times throughout the fall and winter leading up to the Horizon League Championships. The Brown and Gold will be home for four regular season meets as well as its annual alumni meet.
Junior co-captain Adam Jajtner should lead the Crusader freestylers this season. One of the top distance swimmers ever at Valparaiso, he was a Second Team All Mid-Continent Conference selection as well as the school’s Newcomer of the Year during his freshman season.
Jajtner holds school records in both the 500 and 1,000-yard events and ranks second all-time in the mile. His 1,000 time is more than seven seconds faster than any other Crusader in history. In addition, Jajtner ranks fifth on the 200 free list.
Blake Edwards had a solid rookie campaign in the distance events as well for the Crusaders last year. He broke into the top-10 all-time in both the 1,000 and the mile while narrowly missing the charts in the 500. Matt Schuchhardt and Ed Standen lead the way for the sprinters. Schuchhardt, a junior, has competed in the 50 and 100 free while Standen, a co-captain, has swam nearly every distance, and is versatile enough to provide depth whereever it is needed.
Dan Meals also returns for his sophomore campaign in the free events. With a year’s worth of collegiate experience under his belt, he will look to continue improving his times while adding additional depth to the lineup.
A pair of freshmen will also look to make an impact for the Crusaders. David Sivak was a state finalist in Indiana in both the 50 and 100 freestyle during his high school career. Jameson Shang arrives at Valpo from Shanghai, China and hopes to make waves as well.
Kyle Verage is the lone backstroker on the roster this season for Morrison’s squad. A junior, he holds the sixth fastest 100-yard time in Crusader history, and will look to climb the list this season. In addition, Verage ranks ninth on the 200 backstroke charts. Verage will also be used in the individual medley throughout the year.
Ansel Hillmer leads Valpo’s fliers into 2007-2008. The junior ranks fourth on the Crusaders’ 200 fly list while also holding the fifth fastest 100-yard time in school history.
Hillmer will also be helped by Schuchhardt in the 100 fly as the duo will try to become a one-two tandem in the event. Schuchhardt ranks eighth on the all-time list for the Crusaders, just .02 seconds away from moving up another spot.
Sivak will also look to contribute to the fliers as a freshman, in addition to his role in the freestyle events.
In the breaststroke, Andrew Geibel is the lone returning swimmer for the Brown and Gold. Geibel cracked the all-time list in the 100-yard breast during his freshman season last year, and will be looking to continue to improve upon his ninth place spot on the charts. Geibel also turned in his top 200 time at last year’s Mid-Con Championships and hopes to continue to lower the mark this season.
A pair of freshmen will also be called upon to help with depth for the Crusaders in the breaststroke. Skyler Lennan was a four-time state qualifier in high school in the state of Missouri, earning Honorable Mention honors for his school. Tuvshinbileg Ganzorigt, a native of Mongolia, also will compete in the breaststroke for Valpo.
The Crusaders have one freshman diver on the roster this season. Kurtis Malone is a freshman from Illinois who will look to score some points for the Brown and Gold on the boards this upcoming fall and winter.
Valparaiso will open the season on October 5 at the Dennis Stark Relays in Notre Dame, Ind. The Crusader dual meet season will begin one week later as the Brown and Gold battle Horizon League foe Cleveland State. Valpo’s home opener is slated for October 27 when Wright State visits the Athletics-Recreation Center pool. Western Illinois, Michigan State, and Eastern Illinois all will make appearances in Valpo this year as well. The season wraps up February 20-23 at the Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championships, held this year in Cleveland, Ohio.
As the Crusaders enter the upcoming season, they will need to rely on the talent and leadership from the returning upperclassmen to blend with the youth of the newcomers. Valpo is diving into a new league this season, and the foundation the program has been building should help the Brown and Gold be successful in the years to come.
With just one senior on the team, the Crusaders should be seeing a great deal of opportunities for times to drop and places to improve with both individual meets and on the all-time lists. As the 2007-2008 season begins, the only question that remains is what school records will be broken this year?