St. Cloud next for swimmers

After taking on a conference rival in dual meets on Saturday, the men’s and women’s swimming teams will go up against some familiar non-conference foes this weekend in the St. Cloud Invitational.

On Saturday, the teams lost to UW-Stevens Point, which is the defending WIAC champions for both the men’s and women’s divisions. The Blugold men lost to the Pointers 130-104, while the women lost 154-80.

Coach Rob Welcher was enthusiastic about the teams’ performances in Stevens Point.

“We got a little closer to them than we have in the past,” he said. “We had a lot of positive outcomes.”

One performance that Welcher was pleased with was the men’s individual medley team of seniors Matt Oglesby, Kyle Gulbrandson, Brent Witt and junior Casey Christy.

Gulbrandson said that competing against Stevens Point gives the team a little extra incentive.

“I like swimming against Point,” he said. “They bring out the best in us, and we bring out the best in them.”

Welcher also said that sophomore Brian Bartlett had a good meet against the Pointers, and Bartlett thinks the team is off to a good start for the season.

“I’m real pleased with how it went,” he said. “I think we’re a lot farther along than we were last year at this time.”

The men also did well in the diving competition, with freshman Scott Heatwole and junior Dan VonFeldt taking the top two spots in both the 1- and 3-meter diving events.

Welcher was also pleased with the performance of the women’s teams, singling out the 200 individual medley team for having a strong race. Sophomore Adria Bye finished first in the 3-meter diving competition in Stevens Point.

On Saturday, the teams will compete in the St. Cloud (Minn.) Invitational. Other teams in the competition will be Minnesota State-Mankato, St. Cloud State and the University of North Dakota. All three of those schools are Div. II teams, and Welcher said that the higher level of competition will help the team when the conference meet rolls around in February.

“North Dakota has a couple of Div. II record holders,” Welcher said. “We have some challenges in the regular season. The team is preparing psychologically to have confidence in the conference meet.”

Sophomore Sara Schwartz said that the team likes the challenges of going up against Div. II schools.

“Everybody is looking forward to going up against St. Cloud,” she said.

Gulbrandson thinks the team is right where it should be at this point in the season.

“We had our ups and downs (against Stevens Point),” he said. “If we all take a step back and look at what we’ve done this year, we’ll see we’ve taken a step in the right direction.”