Swimming ends landmark season in conference championships

Travis Kriens

Travis KriensSportswriter

Both the men and women set program records for highest Summit finish since D-I move.

The South Dakota State men’s and women’s swimming and diving team capped off a successful 2010-11 season with the best Summit League finishes in school history last weekend in Indianapolis.

For the second year in a row, the women placed second to Oakland. Led by senior Alex Hoffman, the former Miss South Dakota had a hand in five of the eight records set on the women’s side. Individually, she set school marks in the 100 freestyle and the 200 backstroke.

“Alex had a really good meet,” said SDSU head coach Brad Erickson. “She wasn’t very happy with how she swam the first day, but I told her your career is not set on one race. It’s that whole thing.”

Hoffman ends her career with four individual records, a member of four relay record teams and 53 career wins.

Andee Budahl set the 1000 freestyle record in 10 minutes, 22.64 seconds and Jessica Ferley broke the SDSU record in the 100 backstroke in 58.41 seconds.

In diving, Erin Eagen broke her own school record with a 3-meter point total of 266.10 on the final day of the four day competition to round out the individual winner for the Jacks.

The women set three freestyle relay records; three of which included Hoffman and freshman Shauna Foor, while two also featured a freshman in Kaylin Caron.

For their runner-up efforts, Erickson was named Summit League Women’s Coach of the Year; a first in his 35 year career at SDSU.

“It was nice to have that honor since it is voted on by the other coaches, so it is nice when your peers recognize that you do a good job,” Erickson said. “It was the athletes that got that for me and if they hadn’t performed like that, I wouldn’t have received the honor.”

The third place men’s team had outstanding championship showings from a pair of freshmen and a sophomore as Chris Schreier, Phil Albu and Kyle Ochsner put their stamp on the SDSU record book.

Schreier broke his own record in winning the 200 butterfly in 1:49.06 to become the first Jackrabbit on the men’s side to win a conference event since Benji Erickson at the 2001 NCC Championships. It was the Indiana native’s 21st win on the season as he set at least one record each of the four days withseven total.

“We pulled together and gave the biggest push for every place we earned,” Schreier said. “The meet was also successful for myself as Iachievedtimes and places that were not expected by myself and possibly coaches.

The victory in the 200 Fly almost didn’t happen as Schreier was very close to being disqualified. The rule for the backstroke and butterfly is that your head has to break the surface by the 15 meter mark and according to Erickson, Schreier was probably two inches from being disqualified.

“I wanted to make a statement to our team and other teams out there that we are a school that is growing and getting better,” said Schreier. “It gave not only me, but the team the confidence we are going to need going into next season. It was also a great way to end the year on top.”

That concluded one of the great seasons for a swimmer in SDSU history, let alone a freshman that still have three years to improve.

“This freshman year was more than I could have ever asked for,” said Schreier. Conference set times high for the next three years and harder goals to match, but that makes for even harder practicing. I had to change some expectations for senior year on those swims, possibly a conference record when I am done.”

Fellow freshman Phil Albu also picked up his game with six record breaking performances, with three of them, the 50 freestyle and the 100 and 200 backstroke, being individual records.

John Bisson actually had the 50 freestyle record due to his time earlier in the meet, but Albu’s time was good enough at 21.51 seconds to take away the record that Bisson held for about 45 seconds.

Sophomore Kyle Ochsner also set six school records, splitting them evenly between individual records and relays. He showed his versatility by not only setting a new school mark in the 200 freestyle in 1:41.25, but also in the 1000 free (9:40.14) and 1650 free (16:00.80).

“I was very pleased with how things went”, said Erickson. “We swam really, really well and having a second place finish for the women and a third for the men is very satisfying.”

The Oakland men and women’s both won the Championships for the 12 straight year, but Erickson is encouraged by the steps his squad is taking.

“The gap is getting tighter, but it’s a ways off. Oakland is just heads and heels above everybody else, but we are narrowing the gap. I don’t know when it will happen, but eventually, that is the goal.”

Women’s Final Team Rankings

1. Oakland – 1060

2. South Dakota State – 625.5

3. South Dakota – 536

4. Centenary – 360

5. Eastern Illinois – 282

6. IUPUI – 281.5

7. Western Illinois – 190

Men’s FinalTeam Rankings

1. Oakland – 998

2. Centenary – 539

3.South Dakota State- 504

4.Eastern Illinois- 498

5. South Dakota – 301

6. IUPUI – 258

7. Western Illinois – 200