‘Golds in first, third

After a long first half of the season, the Blugold swimmers and divers will take time out to focus on practice before returning to competition Jan. 17.

Most of them will, anyway.

Freshman Tanya Ringquist will be leaving midseason to spend a semester studying in Spain. She leaves Jan. 6, and won’t rejoin the ‘Golds until next season.

But the women’s team made her last meet a good one, taking first place at the UW-Oshkosh Titan Invite on Saturday. The ‘Golds scored 610 points, with runner-up Oshkosh 11 points behind at 599.

UW-Whitewater finished third with 355, and UW-River Falls came in last with 315.

“The women did awesome,” junior Stetson Johnson said. “They were really strong; they should be really strong at conference.”

Rinquist agreed.

“Everyone’s points mattered,” Ringquist said. “Whether it was two points or a first place.”

Individual first-place finishers for the ‘Golds included freshman Annie Gorman in the 500-yard freestyle and senior Kristjana Marston in the 200 individual medley. Freshman Cori Severson took first in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.

Freshman Vanessa Palmert and junior Sara Schwartz also took home first-place finishes.

“All of it went really well,” Ringquist said. “Nothing was more important than anything else. Our divers did really well, too, and the mile was good.”

The men’s squad didn’t do quite as well, placing third after Whitewater and Oshkosh. The ‘Golds finished with 379 points, 59 ahead of River Falls.

The absence of some key swimmers hurt the men’s team, junior Stetson Johnson said.

“It wasn’t a true showing of what we can do,” Johnson said. “But we did the little things very well.”

This included starts and turns, Johnson said, which the team handled well.

The men’s team is small, so the absence of even one swimmer can really affect the squad, junior diver Adria Bye said.

“I think it was difficult (for the men’s team),” Bye said. “We had three of the male divers swimming.”

Despite the team’s reduced size for the Oshkosh meet, divers on both teams had considerable success. Bye finished second in both the 1- and 3-meter springboard events for the women. Freshman Andrea Lashbrook took third in the 1-meter event.

For the men, sophomore Scott Heatwole took second in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, while senior Dan Von Feldt was third in the 1-meter and second in the 3-meter.

Because the teams don’t have another meet until Jan. 17, they will be focusing on hard work during practices, coach Rob Welcher said.

“This is a key period of our season,” Welcher said. “I can push the swimmers to their limits, and we don’t have to worry about the balance with schoolwork (over winter break). I can really kick their butts.”

All except Ringquist, that is.

“It’s hard to leave in the middle of season,” she said. “I want to finish with my team and see how they all do.”