Swimming eyes Summit League Championships

Christopher Bean, Assistant Sports Editor

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Western Illinois men and women’s swim and dive teams will compete at the Summit League Championships starting today till Saturday. The Leatherneck men’s squad will go up against Valparaiso, Denver, Eastern Illinois, South Dakota and South Dakota State. The women’s teams will face Omaha, Denver, Eastern Illinois, South Dakota and South Dakota State.

The women’s team is 0-3 in head-to-head matches this year, and their last win came against Bulter, 155.5-143. Senior Ericka Hagen surged the Necks to victory, giving head coach Greg Naumann his first win over Butler on Jan. 27. Their last competition came on Feb. 2, against Olivet Nazarene. They lost a close one, 116-102 just a day later after losing to Iowa, 172-49 and Northern Iowa, 181-43.

The men’s teams are coming off a win against Olivet Nazarene, 161-76. Junior Brennan Bladel had himself a day. He was the only Leatherneck to get multiple wins on the day. Western is 1-2 in head-to-head matches this year going into the tournament. Naumann was proud of the team’s effort. “It’s been a very tough week of competition and training, so it will definitely be nice to rest for the Summit League Championships over the next two and a half weeks.”

University of Nebraska-Omaha women’s team heads into the Championships with a 3-5 record and 2-1 in conference play. Their last head-to-head match was against SDSU, which came off in a dominating fashion. They honored eight seniors on senior day, and four of them won multiple events. The last time the Mavericks were in action was on Feb. 2 against South Dakota and University of Illinois-Chicago. They were very successful placing in the top-10 41 times, and 25 of those came in the top-five.

The Valparaiso Crusaders men’s team is winless this year with a 0-6 record in head-to-head match play. In three of the four invites they have participated in, they have finished in fifth place. Their last competition was at the Bulter Invitational on Jan. 27. They struggled, finishing in last place.

Denver women’s team comes into the week with a 6-3 record. Their last race was on Feb. 2 against in-state rival, Air Force. The Pioneers dominated 184-38 on a day where they won nine different events. The men’s team is 7-3 on year, and just like the women, they beat Air Force, 161-61. They had eight first place finishes to carry over into this week.

The Panthers of Eastern Illinois women’s team comes into the week with a 1-6 record. Their lone win of the year in head-to-head match play was against Valparaiso in their last contest. The Panthers had their best meet of the year with a 191-67 win and 13 first place finishes. The men’s team is 2-4 and also coming off a win against Valpo. They won 170-92 and picked up nine, first place finishes. Wins have been limited for Eastern Illinois, but they carry momentum into the week.

The South Dakota Coyotes women’s team is 4-1, and the men are 2-0 in head-to-head match play this year. Both teams last competed at their own invitational back on Feb. 1-2. They combined for 15 wins to carry over into the Summit League tournament.

South Dakota State’s women’s team is 0-4 in head-to-head’s this year, while the men’s team is 1-1. Their last meet was at South Dakota’s invitational. The Jackrabbits had five first place wins and four personal record times.

Western has had limited success this year, but one competition and or tournament can change the outcome of their year.

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