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Swim Season Opens This Weekend for Crusader Women
Tuesday, October 03, 2006As the 2006-2007 women's swimming and diving season gets underway at Valparaiso University, youth is the story of the year. Third year head coach Bryan Morrison returns just four individuals from last year's squad which went 1-11 overall in dual meets and finished in seventh place in the Mid-Continent Conference.
Morrison has brought in 20 new faces to the program for this upcoming season, so the four returnees will be called upon greatly for upperclass leadership. If the freshmen grasp collegiate competition early in their careers, the program is in line to make great strides as it looks to ascend the standings in the Crusaders' final year as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference.
Valpo's greatest strength and most depth in 2006-2007 will occur in the freestyle events. Senior Amanda Gregory leads the middle distance squad as the Crusaders begin the season. The senior was a Second Team All Mid-Continent Conference selection as a sophomore and looks to regain a spot on the podium again in her final season. Gregory ranks among the top-ten in school history in the 50, 100, 200, and 500 freestyle, with her 200 time ranking among the top-five.
Katy Eelma also returns in the middle distances for the Brown and Gold. In her first season with Valpo last year, she was peaking at season's end, turning in her top performances in January and February.
A pair of freshmen will also be called upon to help out in the middle distances. Elizabeth Thompson was among the top swimmers in the state of Oklahoma in the 200 and 500 freestyle as a senior while Kati Smethurst was the school record holder at Grand Ledge High School in both the 50 and 500 freestyle.
In the sprints, Rachel Korellis is lone returning individual. The junior ranks eighth on Valpo's all-time list in the 50 freestyle She also turned in a collegiate best in the 100 free last season.
A host of freshmen will also be sprinting for the Crusaders this season. Jaclyn Krause holds high school records in four events and was a state finalist in Michigan in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Anna Kampling was a state finalist in the 50 free in Iowa as well as a United States Swimming sectional qualifier. Fellow classmate Robin Hedge also will help the 50 and 100 free after being a sectional runner-up in the sprints in high school.
Freshman Kristy Shew took part in two state qualifying freestyle relays in high school both her junior and senior year, and is set to make an impact this year as well. Rachel Majercik rounds out the sprint freestylers, having been a state qualifier for Conant High School in Illinois.
The distance events will mainly be contested entirely by freshmen. Lauren Hosimer helped lead Naperville Central to back-to-back state championships while Katie Cissell earned all-conference accolades four times during her prep career while qualifying for USS state competition in Indiana.
Laura Amschler was a sectional finalist in the 500 freestyle in high school and looks to make her mark on Valpo's swim program. Ellen Chase comes to the Crusaders as a school record holder in the 500 freestyle at Oscoda High School in Michigan. Emily Penninga follows her sister to Valparaiso as a distance swimmer following her prep career at nearby Kankakee Valley High School.
In the butterfly, Valpo returns Korellis who qualified for the finals at the Mid-Con Championships one year ago in the 100 event. She will be joined by Kampling, who finished fourth in the state of Iowa, and Majercik. Thompson and Katie Rader also will help add depth to the Crusader lineup in the 200 fly. Rader arrives at Valpo from Brownsburg, Ind. where she helped lead the Bulldogs to the county title as a senior.
Katie Jajtner will help anchor Valpo in the backstroke in 2006-2007 while Eelma will also compete as a returnee. Jajtner ranks sixth on Valpo's all-time list in both the 100 and 200 back while Eelma qualified for the finals at Mid-Cons last year.
Freshmen Elise Bugenske and Karen Berg will both look to score for the Brown and Gold as well after finishing as finalists in their respective state championships last year. Jenny Nam was her school record holder in the 100 backstroke at Lutheran High School of Orange County while Hosimer will also compete some in the backstroke.
A pair of freshmen will lead the way in both the breaststroke and the individual medley for Valpo this season. Amy Young was a sectional finalist for LaPorte High School and led the Slicers to a third place finish at the sectional as a senior. Liane Schroeder also was a sectional finalist while also serving as a member of the state-qualifying 200 freestyle relay as a freshman.
The Crusaders have added a pair of divers for the upcoming season as well. Anna Orwick finished in the top-ten in the state of Illinois twice during her high school career and will look to be competitive this season. Beth Niggemyer takes to the board for the first time in her career this season. A gymnast throughout high school, she will look to convert those skills into the water as she begins her new sport.
Valpo will dive into the pool for the 2006-2007 season on October 6 at the Dennis Stark Relays hosted by Notre Dame. The Crusaders will host four meets at the Athletics-Recreation Center pool this year beginning with Xavier (Ohio) on October 20. Valpo will also get visits from future Horizon League foes UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, and UIC this year. The season is build around improving before the Mid-Continent Conference Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. February 15-17.
The Crusaders have a great deal of youth on the team this season, and with that some growing pains may occur at first. However, when the Valpo swimmers begin to learn their roles on the team, they will begin the climb up the ladder of the standings. It may take some time, but the pieces are in place for the Valparaiso swimming and diving program to begin to grow as the years go by.