Blugolds finish third and fourth in WIAC Championship

The UW-Eau Claire swimming and diving teams made a splash at the WIAC Championship, held at the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer this past weekend. Placing third of six on the women’s side and fourth of six on the men’s, the Blugolds collectively scored 1094.5 points.

Women
UW-La Crosse earned its second consecutive conference honor, finishing with 970 points. UW-Stevens Point came in second with 808 points; the Blugolds took third with 611, the team’s best scoring performance since 2005. UW-Whitewater took fourth this season with 384, UW-Oshkosh was fifth with 241 and UW-River Falls rounded out the bunch scoring 153 for last place.

“I’m pretty happy and I feel our team did phenomenal compared to last year,” sophomore Angie Bakula said. “I was in shock with how fast people from our team and the other teams were swimming.”

After the first two days of WIAC action, the Lady Blugolds came away with three third place finishes. Bakula and freshman Kirsten Lickel each earned NCAA Division III provisional cuts for their third place finishes.

Bakula took the third place spot in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:55.53, while Lickel claimed third in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:32.51. Sophomore Megan Lindner also came in with a time of 59.64 in the 100 yard butterfly.

On the relay side of things, after the first two days, the Blugold women relay of freshmen Emily Bowen and Casey Preissel, junior Ann Grossklaus and Lickel finished third in the 800-yard freestyle with a time of 7:48.93, which was also a Division III provisional qualifying time.

On the last day of competition, Bakula swam her way ahead of the pack and into the record books by setting a conference championship meet and school record in the 1,650 yard (the mile) freestyle with a time of 17:13.52.

Bakula also became the conference champion in this event. Hers was one of the fastest times in the nation this season and is an a-cut qualifying time, which means she will be heading off to the NCAA Div. III Championships in March.

Bakula said she had a lot of confidence going into it and knew she wanted to win the race, adding she felt really strong during warm ups. During Bakula’s race she could see her splits up on the board and said her first 500 yards were really fast and she wanted to keep her pace up. Once past the halfway point, Bakula said she knew she could finish strong.

“I’m still in shock from my races,” Bakula said. “I remember looking at the records thinking they were incredibly fast . but I never expected myself to do as well as I did at the meet.”

Lickel also finished second in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:35.15.

“Bakula’s mile swim was, to me, an All-American swim . individual-wise, this is a big one,” coach Art Brandt said.

The other Lady Blugolds soaking up some points for the team on the last day of competition were freshman Nicole Dorvinen and sophomore Megan Finley. Dorvinen and Finley both earned third place finishes. In the 200-yard butterfly Dorvinen swam in with a time of 2:10.73, while Finley earned a third place finish in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 52.66.

During preliminaries, Dorvinen and sophomore Alyssa Trainor both broke school records. Dorvinen broke the school record in the 200-yard butterfly and Trainor in the in the 200-yard backstroke, one of the oldest school records from 1987.

Men
Swimming in with top honors for their 10th straight time on the men’s side was Stevens Point with 999.5 points, La Crosse finished second with 751.5 points, Whitewater took third with 555.5 points, Eau Claire scored 483.5 points for a fourth place finish, Oshkosh came in fifth with 244 points and River Falls was last with 192 points.

Senior Peter Schultz was the highest finisher for the Blugold men after the first two days of competition. Schultz swam into a fifth place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 59.36.

The last day of competition for the men saw junior Matt Schultz snatching the Blugold’s highest finish with third place in the 200-yard butterfly and a time of 1:58.22. Peter Schultz earned a fourth place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:10.60.

“This is an incomparable year,” Brandt said. “The men did really well and had some really great swims.”

The Eau Claire divers took home some of the best finishes for the men this past weekend, with senior Bryan Dykstra picking up a second place finish in the 3-meter dive with 498.45 points. Junior Ken Ritt followed with fourth place scoring 393.55 points.

Bakula said she thought the men on a whole did pretty well at conference.

“A lot of senior guys had (personal) best times and the freshmen stepped up and performed well, as well as everyone else,” she said.

In the 400-yard freestyle relays, the women’s relay of Preissel, Grossklaus, Linder and Finley took third with a time of 3:32.47; while the men’s 400-yard relay team of junior Brett Olsen, senior Peter Schultz, freshman Philipp-Andreas Schmidt and sophomore Tommy Dahl finished fourth with a time of 3:11.16.

“Swimming wise, over the last few days, we’ve probably had one of our best teams since the late 80s,” Brandt said.

The Blugolds have much to be excited about during these upcoming weeks while they wait to see who is selected to the NCAA Division III Championships, which will be held March 18 through March 21 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Brandt said right now they’re trying to focus on what’s going to happen in the next few weeks.

“I’m really hoping that Kristin Lickel, Nicole Dorvinen and Megan Finley make it for their individuals because they swam really fast and I’d love to see any one of the relays go (to nationals),” Bakula said. “A lot of school records were broken with the relays.”

To check out the current national standings for the NCAA Div. III standings log on to www.collegeswimming.com.