Youth is the key for the Valparaiso Crusaders as the 2007-2008 swimming and diving season begins. Fourth year head coach Bryan Morrison’s squad is void of any upperclassmen, thus the Crusaders will need to rely on the 16 sophomores and 12 freshmen that make up this year’s roster.
Valpo also has moved to the Horizon League this season after competing in the Mid-Continent Conference since 1992-1993. The Crusaders finished in sixth place in the Mid-Con last season, and will be one of eight schools competing in the Horizon League Championships this year.
Freestyle should be one of the Crusaders’ strengths heading into the new season. Valpo set school records in all three freestyle relays (200, 400, 800) last year, and return four of the five swimmers that were on those teams.
Jaclyn Krause and Rachel Majercik should lead the way after solid rookie seasons last year. The co-captains were members of all three record-holding relays, and earned Second Team All Mid-Continent Conference honors. Krause ranks second in school history in the 100 free while also swimming the fourth fastest times in both the 50 and 200 freestyle as well. She also proved that she is capable of swimming the distance events, as she turned in the third fastest 500 and seventh fastest 1,000 times ever at Valpo. Majercik excelled in the sprints, posting the sixth fastest 50 free time and the tenth quickest 100 time for the Brown and Gold.
Katie Smethurst and Elizabeth Thompson each earned Second Team All Mid-Con accolades a year ago as members of the record-setting relays. Smethurst was a part of both the 200 and 400 relays and showed steady improvement throughout the year. Thompson was on the 800 free relay and was solid in the middle distances. Her 200 free time ranks seventh on the all-time list while she also cracked the top-10 in the 500 event.
Katie Cissell leads the distance freestylers. Her mile time as a rookie ranks seventh on the all-time charts for the Crusaders, and she was just seconds away from the all-time list in both the 500 and 1,000.
Sophomores Kristy Shew and Emily Penninga also add depth to the freestyle events, as they both are able to swim nearly every distance. Ellen Chase should help to add depth in the sprint races, having competed at 50 and 100 yards a season ago.
Elise Bugenske and Karen Berg should lead the backstroke contingent for the Crusaders during the 2007-2008 campaign. Bugenske ranks fifth all-time in the 100 and seventh in the 200 for Valpo, both after just one season in a Brown and Gold suit. Berg moved into eighth place on the all-time list in both events as well, and the duo will look to climb even higher this year.
Jenny Nam also will help the depth of the squad in backstroke events this year. The sophomore competed at both distances during her freshman season, and will also swim the individual medley this upcoming year.
Thompson is the team’s top returning flier, having set the school record in the 200 yard event by more than two seconds as a freshman with a time of 2:09.03. She finished runner-up at the Mid-Continent Conference Championships, and will look to leave her mark on the Horizon League in the years to come. Thompson also ranks among the top-10 all-time in the 100 fly.
Majercik and Katie Rader are Valpo’s only other returning butterfly competitors. Majercisk ranks fourth all-time at the 100 yard distance but did not compete in the 200. Rader adds depth in both events, swimming her top times last year in the championship meets.
Liane Schroeder and Amy Young return for the 2007-2008 season for the Crusaders in the breaststroke. Both continually improved their times in the event last season and will look to do more of the same Schroeder was the quicker of the two last year in the 100 while Young turned in faster times in the 200 breaststroke.
Nam also competed in the breaststroke as a freshman and can help add depth in the event as well.
The Crusaders return a pair of divers from last year’s squad which consistently improved throughout their rookie seasons. Anna Orwick earned Second Team All Mid-Con honors as a rookie, finishing runner-up at the league championships. She moved into eighth place on Valpo’s all-time list in diving. Her one-meter score was just one-tenth of a point shy of seventh place all-time.
Beth Niggemyer also returns to the boards for her second season after moving into tenth place on the career list during her freshman campaign.Schedule
Valparaiso will open the season on October 5 at the Dennis Stark Relays in Notre Dame, Ind. The Crusader dual meet season will begin one week later as the Brown and Gold battle Horizon League foe Cleveland State. Valpo’s home opener is slated for October 27 when Wright State visits the Athletics-Recreation Center pool. Western Illinois, Michigan State, and Eastern Illinois all will make appearances in Valpo this year as well. The season wraps up February 20-23 at the Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championships, held this year in Cleveland, Ohio.
While Valparaiso is young heading into the 2007-2008 season, the sophomores that do return have a great deal of experience. Four All-Conference selections return looking to repeat the honor while numerous members of the top-10 lists look to improve upon their times. If the 12 freshmen can make an impact as well, the Crusaders look to have a successful season in the water.