Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The 2008-2009 women’s swimming and diving season will see a wealth of experience return for the Valparaiso Crusaders and head coach Howard Hunte.
Hunte, who took over the helm of the Brown and Gold in July, inherits 18 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished sixth in the Horizon League, and has six newcomers that have been added into the mix. With all of the returnees that Hunte has, he is also in the unique position of not having any seniors on this year’s roster.
Valpo’s freestyle corps may be one of the deepest in recent history. Juniors Rachel Majercik and Jaclyn Krause will lead the sprinters yet again this season. Majercik ranks second on the Crusaders’ all-time list in both the 50 and 100 free while Krause set the school mark in the 100 free at the Horizon League Championships last season and ranks third on the 50 list. She also ranks among the top-10 on the all-time charts in the 200, 500, and 1000 free.
Sophomore Becky Crabtree will also factor in to a lot of races for the Brown and Gold in the sprints. She ranks fourth all-time in the 50 free and just missed the top-10 in the 100.
Grace Arnold should again lead Valpo in the middle distances after a solid freshman year. She posted the second fastest 500 free and fourth quickest 1000 free time ever at Valpo last year, also was among the top-10 in the 200 free.
Sophomore Stephanie Ferschl and junior Katie Cissell will pace the Brown and Gold’s distance squad for the upcoming season. Ferschl posted the fifth fastest mile time ever one year ago and also is among the top-10 in the 1000 while Cissell is on the all-time list in both events as well.
The Crusader depth in the freestyle comes a variety of sources. Sophomore Carolyn Black competed in every free event during her rookie season. Black’s classmate, Annelies Real turned in solid efforts in the middle distances, ranging from the 100 through 500 events. Junior Kristy Shew had her best collegiate season yet last year, taking more than a second off of her time in all three sprint races.
A quartet of freshmen will look to make an impact for the Crusaders in their rookie seasons as well this year. Alecia Penninga enrolled in school last winter, and has had several months of practice with the Brown and Gold in preparation for her first season of competition.
Kristina Stokes, Elspeth Lucas, and Michelle Gerfen all look to bring their prep swimming experiences with them to the Crusaders as well.
Sophomore Shaunna Dangremond leads the backstrokers for the upcoming season. As a freshman, she swam the second fastest 200 back ever at Valpo while moving into third place on the 100 backstroke list.
Karen Berg continued to climb up the record books last season as well, and now ranks fifth all-time in the 100 back and sixth in the 200 back. Berg and classmate Jenny Nam give the Crusaders considerable depth beyond the top spot.
School record holder Amy Andracki looks to continue her torrid pace in the breaststroke this season. As a freshman, she shattered both the 100 and 200 breast marks at Valpo by more than a second and will look to lower those marks even further this year.
Junior Amy Young had her best season yet in 2008-2009, lowering her best times in both breaststroke events as well by more than a second. She compliments Andracki in the lineup and will look to add to the scoring column this year.
In addition, Valpo gains the services of Jessica Cao for one season after she enrolled in graduate studies at the university after getting her undergraduate degree in China. She was compete in breaststroke as well as freestyle.
Record holders in both the 100 and 200 butterfly return for the Crusaders this season, making the events one of Valpo’s strongest. Majercik broke the 100 fly mark a year ago, in addition to her top times in the freestyle.
Junior Elizabeth Thompson set the 200 fly mark as a freshman and outpaced the field again last year. She will help to lead the fliers, as she also holds a top-10 mark in the 100 fly.
Dangremond also will provide points in the 100 fly, as she moved into eighth place all-time a year ago. Laura Rickey and Katie Rader both add depth to the lineup in the stroke as well, while also competing in freestyle event along with freshman Rachel Snyder.
Anna Orwick returns as the Crusaders lone diver this season. A junior, she has continued to improve throughout her career. She has moved into seventh place all-time at Valpo on the one-meter board and eighth on the three-meter.
Valpo will face a rigorous schedule in preparation for the Horizon League Championships this season. Half of the Crusaders dual meets will take place at the Athletics-Recreation Center pool, including visits from four conference opponents. All of the training throughout the dual meet season, though, will be in preparation for the league meet, which will take place in Milwaukee, Wis. February 25-28.
Even without any seniors on the roster, Valpo has a great deal of returning depth to help the Crusaders continue to climb in the Horizon League. With the numerous top-10 times already in place on the all-time lists, the number of current swimmers and divers will continue to grow, and with it should be added excitement at the ARC this year.