PREVIEW: Midwest Conference

Grinnell’s stranglehold on the top spot in both men’s and women’s swimming and diving in the Midwest Conference won’t end barring something unforeseeable in 2018-19 while Lake Forest will remain securely behind them on both sides. The battles behind those two, however, could be much more interesting.

Here are our projected standings with previews:

MIDWEST WOMEN:

  1. Grinnell – Coming off their sixth-straight MWC title, the Pioneers will have to replace more scoring than any other team in the conference, as MWC Swimmer of the Year Maria Venneri (60 pts., 4 relays, 2IM/4IM/2BA champ), MWC Diver of the Year Summer White (37, 3m champ), and seven other senior scorers combined for 318.5 individual points and half of the team’s relay spots. The good news? The Pioneers had a 270 point cushion, return four of their top five scorers, and brought in the league’s strongest freshman class by far. MWC Freshman of the Year Madeline Peak (55, 3r, 50/100 champ), McKynley Larson (54, 3r, 1BA champ), and Marguerite Devine-Mraz (52, 3r, 2FL champ) are all back after tremendous rookie campaigns, and senior Becca Teske (48) is also among the league’s top returners. The Pioneers have a pair of Rookie of the Year candidates in November Brown (24.62/55.50 FR, 1:07.61/2:27.47 BR, 59.0 FL, 2:14 IM) and Nicole Schlegel (24.8/54.4/1:56.1/5:35, 58.47/2:06.46 BA, 1:14.8 BR, 59.9 FL, 2:11/4:44.3 IM), and Maria Eure (1:01.5 BA, 1:20.9 BR, 1:09.3 FL, 2:25.3 IM), Xonzy Gaddis (26.17 50, 1:04/2:20.5 BA, 1:09.6/2:33.8 BR, 1:06.6 FL, 2:19.1/5:03.8 IM), Enya Gamble (24.71/55.21 FR), Helen St. John (1:15.1/2:41.8 BR, 1:07 FL, 2:25.9/5:16.2 IM), and diver Sophie Wojdylo should all be able to score significant points.
  2. Lake Forest – The Lake Forest women also graduated quite a lot, as three of their top five scorers exhausted their eligibility in Lily McCarthy (57 pts., 3r, 500/1650 champ), Brigit Dunne (47, 3r), and Toni Corbani (41, 1r). Add in the early loss of Corynn Christjansen (38, 3r), and the Foresters have a lot to replace. Susan Guo (51, 4r, 1FL champ) returns after a great freshman year, and juniors Rachel Trevillian (45, 1r) and Ani Karagianis (40), and diver Lizzie Johns (37, 1M champ) are also back. Sarah Burchart (25.06/53.78 FR, 1:14.9 BR, 1:01.2 FL, 2:23 IM) could contend for the 100 free title, and Kylie Morgan (25.61/54.85/2:01.2/5:20, 1:06.2/2:24 BA, 1:17.7 BR, 1:00.4 FL, 2:21/4:57.5 IM) should both score major points. LFC also adds a pair of divers in Missy Bryan and McKinley Scheppler.
  3. Lawrence – Despite returning their top four scorers in Erin Lengel (47.5 pts., 4 relays), Elise Riggle (46, 1r), Emmi Zheng (44, 2r), and Sarah Schwieckart (35), Lawrence should remain solidly in third and a larger margin from second than last year, as their incoming class doesn’t quite replace their graduates. Emei Thompson (34, 1r), Eryn Blagg (33, 4r), Foley Van Lieshout (28, 2r), Rosemary Bauer (27) and two others combined to score 145 of the team’s 403 individual points last year. Freshmen Caitlyn Lansing (1:08.6/2:30.1 BR, 1:08.4 FL) and Laurel Soderquist (1:15/2:42 BR, 2:25.6/5:08 IM) are both solid, but won’t absorb all of those losses.
  4. Illinois College – The Lady Blues didn’t graduate anyone, and the four swimmers they did lose accounted for no individual points and just two relay slots at the 2018 MWC Championships. Kate Edelstein (1:04.3/2:20.5 BA, 1:08.5 FL) on paper is the best of IC’s swimming recruits, and the addition of diver Donna Jenkins should also be a valuable difference. Oh, and junior breaststroke standout Hannah Marks (57 pts., 4 relays, 1BR/2BR champ) is back to lead the way. Senior Marcella Jacquemain (27, 4r) and sophomore Hannah Baker (25, 4r) are also among the team’s top returners.
  5. Ripon –  Ripon loses its top three scorers in Lateesha Hiser (41.5, 4r), Abby Hilker (21, 3r) and Megan Pieper (18). Laryssa Vaclavik (15.5), Kim Frisque (14), and Erin Barrie (13.5) are the only returners to reach double-figures last year. The additions of McKenna Bartelme (1:10.3 BA, 1:08.9 FL, 2:22.5 IM, this season) and Morgan Blaha (1:20.6/2:52 BR) should enough to keep them from falling below fifth.
  6. Beloit – The Buccaneers took a big hit as their top three scorers from the 2018 Midwest Championships all departed early in Briana (37 pts., 4 relays) and Somer (27, 4r) Stoffregen and Morgan Nicholson (22, 4r). Add on the graduations of Heather Warner and Kathleen Kennedy and senior Alexandria Kohn (16, 4r) is the team’s only returning individual scorer. Freshman Eliana Ritt (25.74/54.85/2:02.75/5:23.5, 1:03.3 BA, 1:01 FL, 2:14.3 IM) is a huge addition while Padyn O’Keefe (1:18.97 BR) and backstroker Anna Bunzel both should be able to score.
  7. Knox – Diver Meredith Beck (15 pts.), the team’s leading scorer in 2018, isn’t on this year’s roster, so the Prairie Fire will relay on Sylvia Bowen-Bailey (6, 4 relays) and Zuri Peterson (6, 3r) as their top returners. Melissa Wood (25.76/56.71/2:03.8 FR, 1:04.9 BA, 1:01 FL, 2:17 IM) has potential to more than make up for the loss of Beck’s points.
  8. Monmouth – Monmouth lost more than half of last year’s MWC individual points in the graduation of Michelle Nafziger (23, 2r) and loss of Emily Mathews (11, 4r), but they do have Miranda Pasky (28, 4r) back after a solid freshman season. Marissa Logan (2:05.4/5:40.6 FR, 1:23.2 BR) appears to be the most ready among a five-woman freshman class.

MIDWEST MEN:

  1. Grinnell – The Pioneer men also have a MWC title streak to defend, and their run to number four in a row shouldn’t be too close. Nick Roberson (45 pts.) is the lone loss among the team’s top 11 scorers from the 2018 MWC meet, and the team returns both the 2018 MWC Swimmer of the Year in Paul Cover (60 pts., 2r, 500/1FL/2FL champ) and Rookie of the Year in Mitch Sevier (57, 4r, 50/100 champ), as well as seniors Will Lindell (57, 4IM/2BR champ) and Ben Grubb (49, 3r). Christopher Zhang (49.22/1:48.5/4:49.6/17:32, 1:02/2:15.9 BR, 55.6/2:04.1 FL, 2:00.9/4:17.1 IM) is the best of Grinnell’s recruiting class, while Sean Hopkins (1:55.95/5:04 FR, 55.7/2:02.2 FL, 4:51.89 IM), Dante Smith (59.26/2:17.85 BR, 2:01.5 IM), and Alexander Wurtz (1:55 200, 56.64/2:10.8 BA, 57.5 FL) all can help.
  2. Lake Forest – The Foresters return one thing that no other team in the MWC (or any of the conferences we’ve covered so far, for that matter) does: a national champion. In fact, they return the CSCAA NCAA Division III Diver of the Year in senior Heath Ogawa, who won the 3-Meter title back in March to go with a third-place finish on the 1-Meter board, running his total of overall All-America honors to six (3 1st, 3 HM). The Foresters did lose their top two swimmers in David Bunting (54, 4r, 2IM/200FR champ) and Ethan Hare (50, 4r, 1BR champ), but they return a trio of standout sophomores in Max Rowland (50, 1r), Evan Weller (48), and Nathan Ulm (39, 3r) and two seniors – Blake Rhodes (39, 3r) and Frederick Weichmann (37, 2r). They also have the league’s best recruiting class on the men’s side which collectively is incredibly strong in the distance events. Alec Pittman (50.0/1:46.8/4:40.1/16:33, 2:04/4:15 IM) has an ever-so-slight edge on the rest, but Aaron Helms (1:45.8/4:45/16:31, 54.4/1:56.4 FL, 4:21 IM) and Sebastian Wagoner (48.88/1:44.2/4:42/16:34, 58.3 BA, 2:21.8 BR, 2:01.1/4:26 IM) are right there with him. Jeffrey Nebel (1:50.7/4:52/16:41) and Graeme Witte (22.35/48.14/1:48.5/4:54, 54.4 FL) both should be able to make major contributions, too.
  3. Ripon – The Ripon roster is the most unchanged in the MWC from a year ago. The Red Hawks lost a pair of swimmers at the bottom of their scoring roster and added one in Joe Maddux (58.05 FL). They do, however, return four very strong seniors in Nate Pakosz (42 pts., 4 relays), Jack Lutter (41, 4r), Alec Sutton (35, 3r), and Carson Rose (34, 3r). Freshmen Ethan Ripp (29, 3r) and Ben Georgia (20, 1r) will look to build off solid freshman seasons.
  4. Lawrence – Lawrence should remain squarely in the middle of a tight battle in the middle of the MWC. Anton Hutchinson (52 pts., 3 relays) is back after a great freshman season that saw him win the 1650, and Thomas Goldberg (38, 4r), Charlie Phillips (36, 1r), and Max Stahl (30, 4r) are all also back. However, the graduation of Travis Charlow (26, 3r) and loss of Akio Yamamoto (18, 4r) both make a dent, and neither of Lawrence’s recruits appear ready to help immediately.
  5. Monmouth – Preston Bocchi (56 pts., 4 relays) is coming off a fantastic freshman season that saw him sweep the backstroke events at the MWC Championships, and Rik Doornenbal (38, 1r) and Jake Hall (25, 4r) are also back. The losses of Tom Cangelosi (30, 2r) and Riley Hess (17, 4r) to graduation hurt, but Andrew Shie (22.23/47.58/1:50.5, 1:01.5 BR, 57.7 FL, 2:04.8 IM) and Daniel Kadlec (1:55.3 200, 1:00.4 BA, 57.5 FL, 2:10.9 IM) should help.
  6. Beloit – Beloit lost just one scorer from a year ago in Matthew Shea (13 pts., 1 relay), but their top four scorers are back in Joseph Stephenson (23, 4r), diver Wil Kangas-Olson (16), Meshach Roberts (16, 4r), and Aaron Jolly (14, 4r). The Buccaneers brought in just one freshman, Tenah Gaitor (1:56.41 200, 1:04.88/2:30.75 BR, 56.77 FL, 2:15.44 IM). The difference between Beloit and Illinois could come down to who gets the edge in relays and whether Kangas-Olson adds 3-Meter diving to his repertoire.
  7. Illinois College – The Blueboys lose significant points with the graduations of Elijah Rhoad (28, 4r) and Oak Wattanasirakul (26, 3r), and Ben Allen (40, 4r), the team’s top scorer a year ago, isn’t on this year’s roster. Second-leading scorer Martin Ambre (39, 3r) is back, as is senior Mike Weisenfelder (15, 4r), and three of IC’s recruits – Isaac Daigle (22.64/48.72/1:45.96/4:59, 59.9/2:09.2 BA), Jake Howey (50.1/1:48.1/4:55.5/16:59, 57.2/2:17.9 FL), and Steven Lorett (1:55.1 FR, 55.48 FL) – should be able to contribute.
  8. Knox – Knox lost the majority of their scoring with the graduations of Harry Carpenter (12 pts., 4 relays), Chris Colburn (7, 3r), and Andrew Jacobs (1, 3r). Sophomore Sam Lisec (2, 4r) is the team’s only returning MWC scorer, and there are no obvious points coming among the freshman class.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Nicole Schlegel, Grinnell
  • Women’s Diver of the Year: Lizzie Johns, Lake Forest
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: November Brown, Grinnell
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Paul Cover, Grinnell
  • Men’s Diver of the Year: Heath Ogawa, Lake Forest
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Alec Pittman, Lake Forest

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