PREVIEW: Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association

The 2018-19 season will be one of transition in the MIAA as one offseason coaching move led to another within the conference. First, let’s give a shoutout to longtime Hope HC Dr. John Patnott, who founded the Hope program in 1978. Patnott will coach his 39th and final season at Hope this year before retiring, and will look to make it a great one for the Flying Dutch(men). Patnott has no shortage of accolades on his resume, highlighted by his three National Coach of the Year honors in the late 80s and early 90s. This offseason, former Hope swimmer Jake Taber ’04 was hired as Patnott’s successor and will spend the 18-19 campaign as co-HC/HC in waiting. Taber’s departure from Albion – where he led the men’s team to it’s first MIAA title in 46 years in 2017 and a narrow runner-up finish last year – allowed for another former Hope swimmer to return to the conference as a HC in Nick Stone.

Last season, Calvin swept the team titles, albeit in very different fashions, as the women won by a sizable 183 points while the men entered the 400 Free Relay tied with Albion, needing to win that final event to squeak out a six-point victory over the Brits. Can the Knights repeat the sweep in 18-19?

Here are our projected standings with previews:

MIAA WOMEN:

  1. Calvin – The Abby Van Harn era has officially come to a close, as the 2x MIAA Most Valuable Swimmer, 18x All-American, and league record-holder in the 50 and 100 Free has finally exhausted her eligibility, but the cupboard is far from bare for the Knights, as seniors Anna Serino (50 pts, 3 relays), Kendall Murphy (47), and Madelyn Smith (46, 2 relays) are back in an attempt to earn their fourth-straight MIAA titles and number 15 in a row for the Knights. Also back are Hannah Chao (47, 2 relays), Abbey Wellman (45, 1 relay), Emily Gunderson (44, 1 relay), and Libby Engle (41, 2 relays). Serino, Smith, Gunderson, and Engle all joined Van Harn and graduate Rachel Mattson as All-Americans in relay events in 2018 and will look to make the trip to Greensboro in 2019. Most of Calvin’s 13-woman recruiting class should be able to contribute; Grace Ann Delcompare (56.0/2:00.5 FR, 59.15/2:09.3 FL, 2:14.2 IM), Valerie Edewaard (53.8/1:57.6 FR, 58.1 FL, 2:22.6 IM), diver Paige Lynch, Samantha Sonday (2:01/5:25 FR, 1:07.4/2:28.4 BR, 2:19.9 FL, 2:15.9 IM), and Anna Weber (24.68/54.78/2:00.96, 58.9/2:17.8 FL, 2:18.3/4:49 IM) should make the most immediate and significant impacts.
  2. Hope –  Hope beat Albion by just 53 points last season, and, while we think that the Flying Dutch will close the gap on Calvin a bit, their margin over the Lady Brits may be even thinner. Chloe Palajac (57 pts., 1FL/2IM champ) is the team’s lone loss among their top 13 scorers, so Hope has a lot back for Coaches Patnott and Taber, led by Paula Nolte (55, 1BR/2BR), Emma Schaefer (53, 4IM), Meg Peel (52, 1BA/2BA), and Erin Emmert (50, 2FL). Peel will look to bounce back after a disappointing NCAAs, and she will be pushed in her best events by new teammate and Sioux Falls transfer Allison Eppinga (23.62/51.16/1:56.81, 56.18/2:05.3 BA, 59.52 FL), who could take over Van Harn’s role as the league’s top sprinter. Aubrey East (1:07.7/2:29.9 BR, 2:16.1 IM), Alyssa Potyraj (1:08.3/2:33 BR, 2:16.3 IM), Paige Kuhn (1:59.6/5:19 FR) and Abigail LaDuke (1:59.9/5:16 FR) all are freshmen who should make a difference.
  3. Albion – Junior Rileigh Eding (50pts, 4 relays) leads the way for Albion, who return 11 of their top 12 scorers from the 2018 MIAAs. Sarah Kilbride (43, 1 relay) is the team’s lone key loss, and the Brits have a talented eight-woman recruiting class, all of whom should be able to contribute right away. Samantha (1:59.31/5:18.8/18:28, 1:00.8/2:12.8 FL, 2:14.4/4:40 IM) and Courtney (2:03.4/5:27/19:18, 1:11.6/2:34 BR, 2:15.8/4:50.8 IM) lead the way among the freshmen, and Elizabeth Cavataio (1:00.98 BA, 2:15/4:48.8 IM), Emily Merucci (1:57.97/5:19 FR, 1:01.8/2:12.6 BA, 1:02/2:21 FL, 2:16 IM), Allison Dasky (24.9/53.8/1:58.2), and Jena Wager (1:00.7 BA, 1:11.3 BR, 2:16.7 IM) should all score significant points.
  4. Kalamazoo – The Hornets will continue to be led by their strong sophomore class in 2018-19. NCAA qualifier Maddie Woods has graduated, but All-American Nicki Bailey, the 2018 MIAA Most Valuable Diver as a freshman, is back, as are fellow NCAA qualifying diver Maddie Jump, Molly Roberts (30 pts), and Steph Rauhoff (30 pts). The Hornets get a big boost with the return of Malak Ghazal, who scored 41 points at the 2017 MIAA Championships in the distance free events. Emily Tenniswood (1:58.1/5:11 FR, 1:08.8/2:27.2 BR, 1:00.6/2:12 FL, 2:15/4:43 IM) appears to be the star of a 12-woman recruiting class. Olivia Anderson (57.58/2:10.6 BA, 59.23 FL, 2:15.87 IM) should be a major scorer, as well, and Eve Petrie should join the Maddies as the next in line in K’Zoo’s strong diving tradition.
  5. Alma – The Scots didn’t lose a single individual point from the 2018 MIAA Championships and lost just two relay slots. Senior Kate Lehman (2FL), sophomore Haven Westra (2BR), and junior Sydney Louis-Ferdinand (1650) lead the team after each reaching an A-final last year. An impressive 17 freshman are on the team’s roster currently. Diver Andrea Van Nuil and swimmers Sarah Gaines (2:02.7 200, 1:12.6/2:35.7 BR, 2:17.5 IM) and Jennifer Ostrowski (1:08.67 BR) should be the best of the crop. Diver Zoie Tranquilla also returns to the team after last competing during the 16-17 season.
  6. Olivet – Olivet took an enormous hit when Ana Paula Montes de Oca Zapiai transferred to DI St. Francis (NY). The NCAA qualifier and 2x MIAA champ (would have been 3x had she not DQd the 200 Fly in prelims) as a freshman earned 40 of Olivet’s 70 individual points earned and swam on four relays. Olivet’s top returning is junior diver Abbie Slater (14 pts.) and the Comets don’t return a single swimmer who reached double-figures. Freshman Kayla Eichaker (25.05/54.74 FR, 1:01.5 FL, 2:23/5:07 IM) should make an immediate impact both in individual events and on relays.

MIAA MEN:

  1. Calvin – The Knights graduated three key pieces from last year’s title team in HM All-American diver Michael Moentmann and relay HM All-Americans Tanner Vincent (MIAA Champ in 2FL, IMs) and Max DeYoung and also saw Levi Nelesen and Alex Bergsma depart early, but Calvin does return six of its top seven scorers and 13 of their top 16. Ben Holstege (50/1BA/2BA Champ), the 2018 MIAA Most Valuable Swimmer, returns for his senior season after taking fifth at NCAAs in the 100 Back and helping the Knights to a trio of consolation final relay finishes last year. Fellow seniors Skyler Fish (53, 100FR Champ) and Jared Britton (51) and freshman Julian Iturbe (54, 200/500 Champ) are back after earning HM All-America honors on a pair of relays each, and juniors Tim Randall (46) and Fear Churchwell (45) also are among the league’s top returners. While Calvin’s recruiting class doesn’t have any one swimmer that appears to be an instant sensation, it is perhaps the deepest class in terms of talent. Noah Holstege (20.96/47.45 FR, 54.09 BA, 1:01.2 BR, 54.8 FL) joins his brothers as part of the Holstege legacy at Calvin, while Bryce Miner (22.48/47.96/1:46.91/4:57.9/17:38, 2:14.6 2BR, 1:58.65/4:31 IM), Nicholas Peeps (56.1/2:05.7 BA, 59.22/2:15 BR, 1:59.67 IM), Trevor Sparks (22.23/47.24/1:44.69/5:00.8), Joake Boender (21.56/48.31/1:49.05. 53.77/1:56.97 BA), and Matthew Creeks (22.43/48.69/1:46.59, 1:00.97 BR) should all score significant points.
  2. Albion – After winning the MIAA title in 2017 and just missing out last year, the first year of the Nick Stone era will be a small step back, as the Brits lost more than any team in the league. The losses of Parker Belmore (50 pts, 4 relays), Lucas Harder (40), and NCAA qualifying diver Jake Maurer (29), among others, to graduation were expected, but the added departure of six non-seniors – most importantly Alec Nyboer (42, 1 relay), Seth Fleming (33), and divers Tai Sims and O’Shea Swinton – gives the Brits a total of 279.5 individual points to replace. The good news? Senior All-American Nate Kozycki (51 pts, 6th at NCAAs in 1FL) is back to lead the squad, as are Tyler Kimbrell (51) and Len Ciemniecki (45) – who joined Kozycki on Albion’s HM All-America 400 Medley Relay) – and Jake Huttenlocher (48) and Mac Robertson (48). Add in MIAA Most Valuable Diver Jake Burris – an HM All-American on both boards – and there’s plenty to be excited about. Connor Robertson (22.1/1:47 FR, 58.5/2:10.5 BR, 1:53.5/4:19.9 IM) and Thomas Treaux (1:43.36/4:41/16:39, 4:24.5 IM) are the team’s top recruits, while Erik Halboth (52.97/1:59 BA, 57.9/2:02.8 FL, 1:58.5/4:18.6 IM) and Robert Hagner (50.1 FR, 51.7 BA, 52.7 FL) should make big contributions, as well.
  3. Hope – Hope lost nearly one third of their points from last year to graduation, as Charlie Emmert (45 pts., 4 relays), Mike Wurster (41 pts., 4 relays) and their fellow classmates earned 158 individual points and filled 12 of the team’s 20 relay slots. Coach Patnott’s final solo recruiting class looks to be a great one, though, highlighted by a trio of transfers. Daniel Keith (21.30/45.36/1:37.87/4:43.50, 50.6/1:50.85 BA, 50.27 FL, 1:51.75/4:02.7 IM) joins the Flying Dutchmen from Air Force and may be the biggest threat to Ben Holstege for Most Valuable Swimmer honors, while diver Grant Williams comes to Hope from DII Lindenwood. The former 2x Michigan HS champion broke the 500-mark multiple times at Lindenwood and will challenge Albion’s Jake Burris for Most Valuable Diver accolades. Will Benner (4:49.81/16:43, 2:12.7 BR, 2:01.87/4:17 IM) competed for Gettysburg in 2015-16; while he hasn’t competed in two years, he will be a big asset if he can return to form.
  4. Kalamazoo – While K’Zoo didn’t officially score points to count in the team standings last year, scoring the meet out saw the Hornets a mere three points behind Hope for third place. And while the Hornets didn’t lose nearly as much as the Flying Dutchmen, they also didn’t bring in nearly as much projected scoring. Mile champ Matt Howrey returns after a standout freshman season, as does junior Grant Anger. Standout and HM All-American diver Colin Grogan is the team’s biggest loss. Nick Nerhood (22.57/49.23/1:47.56/4:56.61/18:03, 54.88/1:58.98 BA, 54.87 FL, 2:02.5/4:22 IM) is the top recruit, while Luke Durden (22.17/49.01/1:46.77, 56.8 FL) should also be strong contributors.
  5. Olivet – Three underclassmen swimmers didn’t return for the Comets this season, composing 14 individual points and, more importantly, 10 relay slots. However, the team’s top two scorers – Eric Wood (31 pts, 4 relays) and Zach Meharg (22 pts, 2 relays) – are back for their junior seasons, as is diver Dalton Miner (13 pts.). Three freshmen replace the three departed swimmers, and they should more than make up for their loss – look for Cade Erickson (1:48.95/4:51.7/17:06, 1:04.5/2:20.5 BR) and Zachary Knott (1:01.78/2:14.2 BR) to make immediate impacts.
  6. Alma – Alma lost just one relay slot and no individual points from last year’s MIAA Championships. Eric Ferrara (29 pts., 4 relays) returns for his senior season to lead the way for the Scots after reaching a pair of A-finals last season, and Max Carey (13 pts, 4 relays) will look to take the next step in his sophomore campaign. Out of the team’s six newcomers, Will Brown (59.94 BR, 2:03.02 IM) and Leevi Olson (21.94/48.55 FR, 56.69 BA, 1:01.39 BR) should make the biggest impacts.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Meg Peel, Hope
  • Women’s Diver of the Year: Nicki Bailey, Kalamazoo
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Allison Eppinga, Hope
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Ben Holstege, Calvin
  • Men’s Diver of the Year: Jake Burris, Albion/Grant Williams, Hope
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Daniel Keith, Air Force

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