Mix of youth and vets lead Jacks in pool

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

Youth will be served in a big way for the 2009-10 SDSU men’s swimming and diving team. The Jacks welcome 13 freshmen to a team that has improved their finish each of the two seasons they have been in the Summit League.

Head coach Brad Erickson said one of the strengeths of the team should be the distance freestyle events.

“We have a couple of freshmen that are going to challenge some school records in Tyler Smoragiewicz and Kyle Ochsner,” said Erickson, who is entering his 34th season as head coach, the longest tenured head coach at SDSU.

Senior James Motley, who will not be eligible due to low grades for the first semester, will also contribute in the distance events as he set the school record last season in the 1650-yard freestyle as well as the 200-yard butterfly during the last day of the Summit League Championships.

“I think that our butterfly events are also going to be good with the same three guys, plus junior Jason Garder,” Erickson said.

The Jacks have the potential to be good in the sprints, said Erickson.

One freshman hoping to contribute is John Palmer, a University of Connecticut transfer.

“Sprints are always kind of a toss-up, because one or two tenths of a second could get you from first to fifth place. We have some potential there with Palmer,” Erickson said.

One area that the Jacks have not had much contribution in the past few years is diving. Some of the men’s diving records date back nearly 35 years. SDSU went without a diver last season, but that will change with two incoming freshmen, Brad Schoreit and Caleb Crevier.

Schoreit, who has been diving since he was 5 years old, is a two-time Nebraska state champion and is expected to do very well for SDSU right away. Crevier came out for the team last fall after being home-schooled.

Erickson said that Crevier “has really developed and we are looking forward to having divers contribute to the overall picture.”

Junior Jason Garder and senior Ryan Willett are considered the two most dynamic leaders on the team with senior Matt Josephson expected to be in a leadership position as well.

Garder was part of the school record 200-yard freestyle relay team last season at the conference championships.

Erickson sees no reason why the Jacks should not be able to improve on their fifth-place finish of last season.

“We feel that we have the talent on the men’s side that we can improve a spot or two from last year’s finish.”

Unlike the men, the women’s team has a plethora of experience at their disposal.

Nine seniors, along with two juniors, make up a solid foundation that helped the Jacks take home third place at the Summit League Championships for the second year in a row and finish with a 5-3 dual record.

One key member of that third place finish was Katie Budahl. The University of Minnesota transfer broke the school record in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke three separate times during the season. She also won nine individual races, including setting a SDSU and Summit League record in the 200-yard breaststroke (2 min. 17.55 sec.) during the final day of the conference championships, and was a part of four winning medley relay teams.

Budahl became the first Jackrabbit woman to win an individual conference title since Diane Kelsey won her third consecutive North Central Conference 1650-yard freestyle title in 1985.

Senior Emily Tschetter, a Brookings native, will also be a threat in the breaststroke.

One swimmer who should contribute right away is Alexandra Hoffman. Hoffman, a junior from Eureka, S.D., sat out last season due to obligations as Miss South Dakota.

As a sophomore, Hoffman set five individual school records and finished as runner-up in both the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke events at the Summit League Championships. She also swam on four school-record relays during the 2007-08 season.

“I think she enjoyed her time away, but really missed the swimming part of it and is really excited about getting back into it,” said Erickson. “Looking at her so far this fall, she trains so hard and she sets really lofty goals for herself. It won’t take long for her to get back in the swing of things.”

Joining Hoffman in the backstroke will be Ellen Sinclair and freshman Lisa Newberger.

“The success that those three have had and the work ethic that they bring, I think that the freshmen look up to those three as leaders,” Erickson said. “Plus all of the seniors, because they all have good qualities that make them good leaders as well.”

Seniors Christina Gerometta and Kayleigh Boucher will lead the way in the distance free events. Gerometta broke four freestyle records at the Summit League Championships last season and has 12 career wins. Boucher set a career best in the 200 and 1650-yard freestyle at the same event.

With a year’s more experience, Erickson expects those two to continue to improve.

“They have both set high goals for themselves that will be at the top of the conference,” Erickson said. “We should have good quality as well as depth in those three events [breast, back, distance].

Not all contributors will be upperclassmen as the Jacks have a few incoming freshmen that have the chance to make an impact right away. One such freshman is a Milbank native.

“We have what we feel is an unknown in Kylie Poel,” said Erickson.

Poel only swam on summer swim teams, so Erickson is excited to see what she can do in a year-round program.

“In practice, she is amazing us almost every day,” Erickson said.

Anna Howard placed very high in the state meet in Nebraska in freestyle events, but had a setback. Erickson said the freshman is coming along after a car accident injured her back.

“She is still not where she would like to be obviously, but she has the potential to be a very good sprinter for us,” Erickson said.

Freshman Alyson Twenge will add depth at the diving position as Erickson is expecting her to step up and do some good things.

Sasha Porter, a senior diver from Alaska, got off to a quick start last season as she broke her own school record in 3-meter diving tallying 226.6 points at the season opening triangular against Western Illinois and Iowa State. As a sophomore, Porter broke the 25-year-old school record in the same event.

Every single Jackrabbit swimming and diving record on the women’s side has fallen in the last two years, but Erickson said they are not done yet.

“It’s amazing that every year the past three or four years we have had between 16 and 20 school records be broken between the men and women,” Erickson said. “You just wonder how long that can continue. I think that as we recruit better and better athletes as we get a better reputation, I don’t see why those records can’t continue to fall.”