Oct. 17, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State swimming and diving program will officially kick off the 2013-14 season on Friday as the team travels to Iowa for the first dual meet of the season. The women will also be competing against Northern Iowa at the meet that will begin at 5 p.m. ET at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Pool.
Last Time Out
Before hosting the 58th Annual Alumni meet last weekend, the White team defeated the Green team in the annual Green and White Meet on Oct. 4. The meet saw some promising performances from the incoming class on both teams, but the White team came away with the win after a score of 336-243.
A Look At the 2013-14 Squad
With the loss of All-American Jacob Jarzen, the men have many positions to fill to make up for the points lost. However, the light is shining bright with several Spartan newcomers showing signs of potential.
“It’s not that we don’t have the capabilities of doing it, because I think we have a really good class that came in and a good group of seniors,” said head coach Matt Gianiodis. “People are going to have to grow up in a hurry because Jake filled a lot of spots up. That’s going to be tough.”
However, multiple events to fill means more opportunity for the team to come together and contribute in a variety of events. In the backstroke, freshman Sam Hiller and Adam Marsh will assist upperclassman Nick McGowan and Sam Schulze. Alec Kandt will look to help the breaststroke group of Chad Cathey, Jake Cook, Ian Rodriguez and Nick Roberts.
Taking the lead in the butterfly events will be senior Bryan Williams, who earned seven individual wins in the 200 butterfly last season. He was ranked fifth in the Big Ten in the event with a time of 1:46.59. He will be assisted be Turkish newcomer Oguz Aslanoglu.
In the distance group, Gianiodis looks to a strong pair of newcomers to elevate the event.
The Spartan relays look to return with vengeance as seven out of the eight spots have returned for the record-setting sprint group from last season. Another group returning depth will be the individual medleys as Roberts, Cook, Rodriquez and Nate Weeks will all look to capitalize on success from last year.
On the boards, freshman Brennan Lebar will bring added points to the event currently led by Charlie Mauer.
“The Big Ten has gotten so deep and we’ll see right away,” Gianiodis said. “Overall, person-to-person and as a team, I think we’re stronger. There are some events that I think we’re going to be better at because kids are a little bit older and most of them had pretty good summers. Our distance events are going to be a lot better with some of the freshmen. We’ve been doing our best to try to stack those classes on top of one another, so we’ll see how that works.”
On the women’s side, a group of Spartan leaders swam their last leg and like the men, MSU will look to some veterans and incoming class for strength in numbers. Leading the pack will be senior Summer Strickler who is primed to have a record-breaking season for MSU.
“Summer Strickler could go down in history as the best freestyler in the history of the program,” said Gianiodis. “She has an opportunity to be the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle record holder, as well as being a record holder in all of the relays. So I think a lot of it will drop on her and I think she’s ready to break through.”
Despite a major loss to the backstroke core, Gianiodis looks to an incoming class to make an impact for the event.
‘We lost a very good backstroker last year in (Lauren) Baisden, but we have two freshmen - Claire Pilarski and Lauren Kalwasinski - coming through the door now,” Gianiodis said. “They’ve been doing pretty well and can really help us out. But relying on freshmen is tough, especially in this league because in the Big Ten, women’s backstroke is probably one of the better events. That’s also a place where Brooke Telander can help.”
Shelby Lacy and Marina Borri will return in the breaststroke group with Borri nearly breaking the 200 breaststroke record in 2012. Another event that the Spartans should have depth will be the butterfly, led by Hannah Pugh and Elizabeth Brown. MSU will look to fill a whole left by the loss of Alexandra Pierce in the individual medley events, and hope to do so by committee.
The women divers led by Alison Menzies and Christee Cordes will look to return to the NCAA Zone Championships and score points for the Spartans at the conference meet.
The Spartan relays will also be a significant event for the women as Gianiodis hopes to create opportunities for points in those events at the Big Ten Championships.
The distance group will see the return of Becca Berman, Chelsea Abbott, KJ Burkland and Kelsey Buese, who should all make an impact in the event. Sprinters Besty Good and Taylor Folkerstma also proved to have very good summers and will provide strength in that group, as well.
“I do think we have the ability to break through in individual events and get second swims at night at the Big Ten Championship meet,” said Gianiodis. “More than anything else on the women’s side, it’s a matter of holding focus and holding goals throughout the whole year. We have a very nice sophomore class; they are the ones who are really going to have to carry the torch for us. We’re going to get some help out of the seniors.”
The Spartans will return home next Friday as the women are set to host Illinois and Liberty. Competition will begin at McCaffree pool in IM West at 5 p.m.