Women’s swimming and diving try to better third-place Summit showing

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The SDSU women’s swimming and diving team hopes that a year of experience will help them improve on their third-place finish in the Summit League last season.

The Jacks have 12 letter winners back from last year’s team. Mallory Onisk is back for her senior year and will compete mainly in the butterfly. Onisk holds the school record in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, as well as the 200 individual medley.

Breaststroker Emily Tschetter, a junior from Brookings, returns after a record-setting performance at the Summit League Championships. Tschetter set a new school record in the 400 IM and was a part of two record-breaking relay teams in the 200 and 400 medley relays. She also set the school record in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Head coach Brad Erickson, back for his 33rd season as head coach, says that Onisk and Tschetter are the team leaders and both have looked good early on in practice.

Other seniors returning are Catie Coursen, who will swim distance freestyle events, and Hannah Ferree, who will concentrate on the freestyle and backstroke events.

Freshmen who are expected to contribute include Kali Temperley and Jessica Ferley, who will compete in the freestyle and backstroke events. Breanna Torkelson will add depth to the diving team.

Junior diver Sasha Porter also returns; she broke the 25-year-old school record in 3-meter diving (six dives) with 213 points in a meet last year at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“Sasha really worked hard over the summer and is in mid-season form right now,” said Erickson. “She is far ahead of where she was a year ago at this time.”

The Jacks have eight returning juniors, with two transfers from the University of Minnesota that will add depth to this year’s team.

Katie Budahl and Laura Wilcox were a part of the Minnesota team that won the Big Ten Championship last season. Budahl will swim the breaststroke, while Wilcox will add depth to the SDSU backstroke swimmers. Coach Erickson said that the team will rely on them to plug the hole but not replace those that are not returning.

Other juniors include Ellen Archer, backstroke, Christina Gerometta, freestyle, and Shawna Kennedy, who will swim distance freestyle.

Last season, Gerometta was a part of two new school record performances at the Summit League Championships in the 400 freestyle and the 800 freestyle relays. She also had an individual finish of second in the 1650 freestyle event.

Kayleigh Boucher returns for her third season swimming the breaststroke and freestyle events for SDSU. Boucher set a new school record in the 1000 freestyle against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and in the 1650 freestyle at the Summit League Championships.

Junior Rachel Musser returns after being the anchor for three record-setting relay teams at the Summit League Championships: the 200 freestyle relay team, 400 freestyle relay team and the 400 medley relay team.

Sara Olenich was also part of the record-setting 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams at the Summit League Championships. Olenich will continue swimming freestyle.

The lone sophomore on this year’s team is Cassie Kozar from British Columbia, Canada. Last season as a freshman, Kozar placed fourth in the 1650 freestyle at the conference championships.

One Jackrabbit who will be taking a year off is junior Alex Hoffman. A Eureka native, Hoffman won the title of Miss SDSU last November and Miss South Dakota this summer. She will represent South Dakota in the Miss America Pageant in January in Las Vegas. Last season, Hoffman set five individual school records and finished as runner-up in both the 100 yard and 200 backstroke events at the Summit League Championships. She also swam on four school-record relays during the 2007-08 season.

Erickson says that his team can pick up the slack left by the loss of Hoffman.

“We don’t replace those points, but we think that we have got the depth to make up for those lost points with the incoming freshmen class and transfers.”

The Jackrabbit women’s schedule starts off with a meet at Ames, Iowa, against host Iowa State and Summit League member Western Illinois on Nov 1. The Jacks will host their first of three home meets of the year when Wisconsin-Green Bay comes to Brookings on Nov. 7.

SDSU heads to Northern Colorado on Nov. 5 where they will take on North Colorado and Northern Iowa. For the second consecutive year, the women will make the trip to Lincoln, Neb., for the Husker Invitational.

The Jacks will host Nebraska on Dec. 5, followed by St. Louis on Jan. 10 and 11. The season concludes at Rochester, Mich., at the Summit League Championships on Feb. 19 to 21.

Erickson sees his squad as a team that can compete with the upper tier team in the Summit League.

“We have a good shot to be in there for second or third place. I think that we have the depth. We will have to see how some of the freshmen develop this year. I would be really disappointed if we weren’t in the top half of the conference.”