The UW Oshkosh swim and dive teams traveled to Carthage College over the weekend for the Carthage College Classic. The teams combined to take fifth out of ten teams at the meet with the men’s team coming in fifth place and the women’s team in sixth place.
The men’s team had a successful day in the water with multiple swimmers turning in personal and seasonal best times. The UWO dive team also did a nice job, with freshman Matt Wilke placing second in the one-meter dive and third in the five-meter dive.
Relays were a major way the Titans were able to score points during the meet, as four relays were able to place in the top ten in their events. Sophomore Bryan Solomon was a large part of these relays as he swam in all four of the events. With the meet spread out over three days, swimmers were able to participate in more events as they rested from day to day.
The team of Solomon, freshman Josiah Vandenberg, senior Grady Hilgendorf and freshman Jarrett Lieder swam to an eighth-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:46.49, which was good enough to beat out 12 other teams during the event.
Another team consisting of Solomon, Lieder, freshman Alec Leppla and senior Brandon Davison also placed eighth, this time in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:31.39.
Senior Grady Hilgendorf said leading the team in and out of the pool is important to the team’s success.
“I’m always cheering for my teammates, even the freshman that I may not know as much,” Hilgendorf said. “I am also making sure they’re getting their schoolwork done and all that stuff.”
Senior McKinzie Halkola and sophomore Sydney Challoner once again were near the top of the leaderboards in most of their events during the classic. Despite the effort of these two swimmers and the rest of the team, the Titans finished over 1,350 points behind the winner of the women’s portion and the host, Carthage College.
Halkola managed to post three top-six finishes throughout the weekend, placing fourth in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events and sixth in the 500-yard freestyle. The senior swam the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events in a field with 30 total swimmers and managed to come out fourth in both events.
Not to be outdone, Challoner posted three top-four finishes as she placed third in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard butterfly. She also took fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke race finishing just over a second off the lead with a time of 2:30.16.
Other UWO swimmers with top ten finishes were freshmen Jennifer Lutz, who placed seventh in the 100-yard butterfly, and Tessa Shorten, who touched the wall in 10th place in the 200-yard freestyle. Junior Gabby Kraus also gave the team a lift by placing third in the one-meter dive with a score of 378.30.
Shorten said the atmosphere varies of larger meets versus a dual meet with only one other school, but all relate back to one theme.
“For me it’s all about competition,” Shorten said. “In a dual meet, obviously there’s competition on our team and the other team but when you have so many teams like that, it really builds the competition and makes it more exciting.”
Head coach Christopher Culp said he was pleased with his team’s performance during the weekend.
“Normally I have a pretty good sense on how we’re going to do for this meet just by the way the training has been going and everything else but I walked into this meet not knowing at all,” Culp said. “Our first couple of races got us off on the right foot. We maintained throughout and there were a lot of season and even lifetime-best times so I was pretty happy about that.”
Hilgendorf also emphasized some points that the team can look to improve on during the upcoming break from the meets the team will be experiencing.
“The people that aren’t going on the training trip this year need to stay in the pool,” Hilgendorf said. “The people that are going on the trip need to focus more on our turns because we have been losing ground on those turns.”
Shorten explained the team needs to stay motivated and remain focused during the break.
“I’m a freshman so I don’t know how it will be to go over break and not swim for two weeks, but I know for me it will definitely be hard to stay motivated and look towards conference and everything,” Shorten said.
The team will be taking on UW-Stevens Point at home Friday. The Titans will then be off for finals week and taking a trip during the early part of winter break to Florida for their annual winter training trip before they travel to Lawrence University for a dual meet on Jan. 6.