MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University swimming and diving team started its season on Saturday (Oct. 1) with the annual Green and Gold meet in the PEIF Pool. The Gold team defeated Green after the three-week long competition that was capped of by the swim meet. The ‘Cats return to the pool for its first competition on Oct. 21 and 22 as they travel to Moorhead, Minnesota to take on Minnesota-Moorhead and St. Cloud State.
The Wildcats enter the 2011-12 season after a seventh-place finish at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship last season. Nine members return for the season with the addition of 14 newcomers in second-year head coach Heidi Voigt’s first recruiting class. Kyle Bogner also joins the swimming and diving team as the graduate assistant diving coach.
“I expect us to do a lot better this year,” Voigt said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a little jump but a big jump up like two or three places at conference.”
Returning for NMU are captains junior Gaby Alzaga and senior Stephanie Rogaczewski. Alzaga swam a variety of events in her first two seasons with the Wildcats and Rogaczewski swam distances.
“Gabby and Stephanie have been doing a great job of leading the team and pushing everyone at practice,” Voigt added. “Gabby was sort of on her own last season but has had some great competition at practice so far this year.”
The other senior is Jenny Gallagher, “Jenny and Stephanie are my only seniors,” Voigt said. “Jenny had probably the best meet out of everybody at the Green and Gold meet. She dropped about four seconds off her time from last year in the 100 breaststroke.”
Also returning are juniors Olga Budiansky, Lauren Cockels and Jessica Linen. Sophomores include Meghan Cepela, Katie Lochart, Kelsey Sipple and Lindsay Stedman.
“We should have more national qualifiers this spring,” Voigt said. “Last year we only had one diver and have a chance to get some swimmers there this year.”
Fourteen newcomers join the team as Kayla Barr, Annie Bengry, Emily Bourguignon, Emily Brennan, Megan Crowder, Tara Dowling, Taylor Grimm, Jordan Iverson, Pam Johnson, Molly Kearney, Debbi Lawrence, Aspen McHugh, Dakota Sechena and Madisen Sechena found their way to Marquette.
“We have some great standout freshmen that are looking very good,” Voigt said. “Debbi Lawrence has been looking really strong in the water and right on her heels is Emily Brennan from Montana. They both have good shots at making nationals.”
“I’m lucky to have a pair of sister from Great Falls, Montana with Dakota and Madisen Sechena,” Voigt said. “Madisen is a great individual medley swimmer and butterfly swimmer. Here sister Dakota is another good individual medley swimmer and she also does backstroke and freestyle. They haven’t had as much consistent training at home and they have a lot of potential.”
First-year coach Kyle Bogner takes over the dive tank and must find a replacement for NCAA qualifying diver Kelli Vander Baan. Katie Lochart returns with some experience and Sophia Garris and Molly Kearney round out the divers.
After the trip to Minnesota the Wildcats travel to Grand Valley State (Nov. 12), Hillsdale (Nov. 13) and the Calvin College Invite (Dec. 1-3) before the end of 2011. The divers open 2012 at the Air Force Diving Open (Jan. 3) and the swimmers at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (Jan. 6-7). NMU will co-host the GLIAC Championships (Feb. 8-11) with Indianapolis in Jenison, Mich. NCAA Championships (March 13-17) will be held in Mansfield, Texas.
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