Jackrabbit swim squads split at North Dakota duals

John Green

The men’s and women’s swim teams traveled to Grand Forks, N.D., Saturday, Jan. 28, to take on the University of North Dakota in the Jackrabbits’ final dual meet of the season. SDSU split the meet, with the men claiming victory 160-140, while the women fell to UND 164.5-129.5.

On the men’s side, the Jacks came out firing on all cylinders as seven of the first eight events scored were won by SDSU. The Jackrabbits began their run with a first-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay, followed by a sweep of the first three places in the 1000-yard freestyle. Having such early success gave the Jacks momentum and an edge going into the last events of the meet.

“When you come out and can win the first half of the meet, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team. They were psyched out from the word go,” said head coach Brad Erickson.

The Jacks were able to accomplish this success early due in part to a switch in swimmers. SDSU’s freshman Blake Yeager, who usually swims in the 200-yard freestyle, swam in the 1000-yard freestyle instead. This allowed junior Kyle Ochsner to swim in the 200-yard freestyle, giving the Jacks a win in that race.

That in turn contributed to SDSU’s sweep in the 1000-yard freestyle, an effort headed by Yeager. Aiding in the sweep in the 1000 free was senior Kyle Catani (10:06:39), and freshman Nathaniel Weinman, with a time of 10:06:59 and a clutch third-place finish.

“It was a total team effort. The boys came out pumped up, and we performed like we knew we could. We lost by four to UND in October, so it felt great to be able to beat them at their place,” Erickson said.

On the women’s side injuries plagued the Jacks, forcing swimmers to be moved around to different events. Freshman Sam Fossum was unable to compete due to an injured hand suffered the day before the meet, resulting in swimmers shifting to different events.

This altered lineup led to SDSU having trouble finding traction and dropping two of the first three events. Despite picking up wins in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard breaststroke, the Jackrabbits could not hold back UND, who claimed top finishes in nine races.

Although the team’s performance could not match UND’s, coach Erickson was pleased with individual performances.

“I thought Kaitlyn Hemmingson had an awesome meet. For seniors, this was their last dual meet in their careers,” said Erickson. “It’s always nice to see them perform at the top of their game.”

Hemmingson swam a lifetime best in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:06:50, and also obtained a victory in the 200-yard breaststroke. Peaking at the right time will become imperative, as SDSU looks ahead to the final two meets of the season in preparation for the Summit League Championships.