Experience may be the only thing to hinder the team, as the talent is there to make some noise
Two meets into the season, the Minnesota State swimming and diving team is looking to get into the deep end of NCAA championships in March. The team finished in 13th place at last year’s championships in Birmingham, Alabama. The Mavericks mostly dominated the competition last season and thus far into the schedule, the team has repeated last year’s performance.
Head coach Nathan Owens wants to get over the hump that is St. Cloud State on the way to the NSIC conference championships where the Mavericks finished second in the 2016-2017 season.
“St. Cloud St. was strong from top to bottom of their roster, which made them tough to beat at the end of the season,” Owens said. “This year we have 12 freshmen on our roster. They add depth and talent that should makes us more competitive and a stronger team overall.”
Along with the freshmen swimmers on the roster, the coach looks to the senior women to lead the team throughout the season and onto the championship meets. Four of the seniors on the team are All-American athletes from the 2016-2017 season. Seniors Cecilia Hake, Kylie Gaeth, Taylor Bass and sophomore sprinter Maggie Knier have all achieved the accolade of being an All-American in Division-II of the NCAA.
“All these ladies are looking to end their careers on a high note,” said Owens. “I’m expecting our seniors to have a big year.”
The coach is extremely impressed with Knier’s performance early in this season and said that she is posting some of the fastest times he’s ever seen. According to Owens, the team has several swimmers who can potentially qualify for the National meet if they keep up the pace they are currently on. The depth of the team last year was a concern in big meets, in order to improve on that as a team, training properly and consistently is crucial for the Mavericks.
The team focuses on increasing the workload with the volume and intensity of their training in the early part of the season. Coach Owens said the team generally rests for about a week before an important meet.
“Staying healthy and training at a high level through the first 3 months of our season is critical to success,” said Owens. “If athletes can improve their conditioning, get stronger, and progress during that time, then they’re setting themselves up to have some good performances.”
After the second-place finish at the NSIC Championships, the team wants to take that next step and be able to call themselves champions this year. St. Cloud State will be waiting for the Mavericks at the end of the season as Minnesota State tries to claim the title belt. Before that happens, the team has other hurdles to jump.
The mid-season meet held in Rochester will be an important test for the team, according to Coach Owens. The Rochester Invite will be the Mavs’ final meet in 2017, and they go to Hawaii for a Winter Break training trip before returning in 2018 to take on the University of Sioux Falls on January 13.
“Performing at our best during these three meets is the primary thing that we focus on throughout the year,” said Owens.
Matching last year’s record so far through the 2017-2018 season, the Mavericks lost their first meet against South Dakota with a tight score of 154-146. The team took care of business last Friday in Eau Claire, Wisconsin as they defeated the UW – Eau Claire Blugolds 234-65. The next meet will be in Mankato with Augustana visiting on Oct. 27. Minnesota State handled the Vikings in last year’s meeting, winning the meet with a score of 163-106 in the 2016-2017 season.