200 Medley Relay
The women’s medley is going to be another great race to watch, with Calvin, Hope, and Kalamazoo all putting together dynamite relays. It should be a great race between all three schools. Calvin’s lineup will probably be Bressler, Counsell, either Price or Caitlin Alexander, and Colasurado. The loss of Kristen Kinzer hurts because Bressler will have to swim back, but Colasurado has been swimming well this year.
Kalamazoo’s relay team of Weeks, DeWald, Weber, and Edsall will be very strong as well, as these girls are more sprint oriented. DeWald and Edsall give them two great legs, but they will need Weeks and Weber to step up. Edsall’s relay exchange generally doesn’t give her a big boost though, mainly because her flat start is so good, but it’s worth noting she’s not going to have a huge drop from flat start to relay.
Hope’s lineup will most likely be Schewe, Heckenliable, Jasperse, and Westrate bringing it home. One question that arises though is which relay to sit Westrate. Since it looks like Hope won’t be able to top Calvin or Kalamazoo, she could end up sitting this relay. Hope has multiple options for a freestyle leg so they should be hurting that much.
Olivet should be able to hold off the rest of the pack, with strong swims from Jager and Lohr in the middle of their relay. They have a few questions on the bookends, but should be compensated enough with the middle. Alma won’t be far behind, as they have a 59 backstroker, 1:08 breaststroker, and a 1:01 flyer; three solid legs. Albion should be able to beat St. Mary’s, with the help of senior breaststroker Ashley Collins.
Kalamazoo should be favorites in this relay, although this will be a great race by K, Olivet, and Hope. Kalamazoo’s lineup should be Armstrong, Manning, Lodewyk, and Bazzell. They had big swims out of Manning (25.51) and Lodewyk (22.43) at midseason already and look to have a solid grasp on the event. Olivet’s relay looks like a three-legged horse, missing a sprint breaststroker. Beckwith will jump out to an early lead and Fiorillo will hold his ground as he split 20.7 this season, and between Harden, Maxwell, and Knight, the fly leg should be taken care of as well. Depending on the flyer, Harden, or Jackson could anchor the relay, but Harden has been 22.3 and Rafe 22.2 in the fly leg. Mauk looks to be the go to guy, and he will need a huge swim to get a B cut.
Hope will most likely go Hazekamp, Hunt, and Frayer. Ludema, Perkins, or Huisingh could also swim the breaststroke leg. Right now it is a question mark, as no one is the clear favorite. Hazekamp is more of a distance backstroker, and Hunt seemed a bit slow at midseason (22.67) and it would be nice to see Frayer in the 20. range.
Calvin should be able to put together a solid relay with Mitchell, Gorham, Peter Johnson, and Rushlow. They should be able to be in the 1.36 range. Albion and Alma will be a good race. Alma doesn’t really have a backstroker, and Albion has Venettis on breaststroke. Alma could also have Brunner swim fly or breast. I’ll give the edge to Alma, as I like the Hammer, Brunner, Marsh front three in this event.
Sarah Sohn of Hope is the returning champion and looks to defend her title, and fellow teammate Chelsea Wiese also looks to finish strong. This event looks to be deep, as all top 8 finishers from last year are returning. Rachel Colasurado of Calvin, Emily Bair and Kelly Bresnahan from Kalamazoo, Ellie Watson from St. Mary’s, and Holly Williams and Ashley Collins from Albion are all vying to make it back to the top heat. The competition will be more fierce with strong swims at midseason by Audrey Dalrymple of St. Mary’s, Ellie Price of Calvin, and Kristen Long from Olivet.
Jeff Shade is the top returner in the event, although Kevin Lodewyk has posted the faster time this season. This should be a great race between the two, as Shade and Lodewyk have been second and third for the last two years in this event, respectively. They are both looking at that individual title, now that Heyboer graduated. Not far behind them will be Ludema for Hope and Robinson and Kenny Heidel from Kzoo, another great matchup. Robinson had a great midseason swim of 4:16.8, but Heidel has been battling a back injury recently. Ludema has yet to swim the event rested this year, but as we saw last year, he will be able to finish strong, splitting 27.0 in his last 50 during MIAAs. Johnson (Calvin), DuCharme (Kzoo), Burgess (Olivet), Kraft (Calvin), and Bares (Calvin) are all looking to round out the top 8. This will be another crucial battle for swing points as Calvin can do some damage here and throw off the balance of power. The Calvin IMers could play an interesting role here, as Kraft and Johnson could bump some of the other swimmers from Kalamazoo and Hope down.
This is going to be a very tight race for the women, as the top two returners graduated last year. All the ladies in the event this year are very close together, and it will take some heads up racing in order to make it back to the top heat. Katie Grue of Kalamazoo leads the pack right now, going 59.36 during a time trial at midseason. Nine other swimmers have been in the 1:00-1:01 range this year, so this looks to be a very tight race. From Calvin, Alexander (1:00.02), Price (1:01.02), and Colasurado (1:01.02) have all posted solid times. Kalamazoo has their own contingency of flyers in Weber (1:00.45), and Danielle Williams (1:00.86). Hope has a few options in Jasperse (1:01.09), Heckenliable (1:00.78), and Tuuk (1:03.34). Olivet’s Lohr (1:00.91) cannot be counted out and should be able to be under a minute. Now, many of these women have been faster at leagues under a full taper, but none of them have been able to break a minute flat start, which should make for a great race in both prelims and finals.
The men’s 100 fly looks like it will be another great race, and a lot of swing points in the event, making it crucial for people to swim fast in the morning. Rushlow is the favored, having been 50.29 last year at leagues, but Jacob Hunt from Hope will be challenging him. Those two have been strides ahead of the rest of the conference, especially with some impressive in season swims by Hunt. Brunner is next, going 51.1 last year, but Rushlow and Hunt should be able to hold him off. For Kalamazoo, Benmark has been 51.4 at midseason, and the question for them becomes if he swims it, or let the depth guys take care of business. Kzoo is loaded with depth in this race, from guys like Chris Lueck (52.74) and Reid Carlson (52.47), among others. I say you put Benmark in it, and have him lead the 800 Free relay, that way he can get a flat start time. Olivet’s flyers are also expected to make the top heat, with Knight and Harden making it back last year and Maxwell barely missing out on top 8. If they are on, they should all be in the 51 range. Alma’s Max Marsh will be battling with Kzoo’s depth guys for the last few spots.
Libby Westrate looks in solid form, posting a B cut time already this year of 1:53.98. Freshman Alex Stephens of Kalamazoo has been 1:55.64, and she has been coming into form the last few weeks. This is her best event; will Westrate be able to hold on for the 200? After those two, there are a lot of people pretty close together. Calvin’s Fox started off fast, but we’ll see if she can hang on to the other two. Hope has freshmen Bethany Schmall and Skylar Daris; Cavlin has a lot of depth with Colasurado, Kendra Kinzer, Claire Strunk, and Shelby Cloyd, and St. Mary’s has Megan Price not far behind.
Fleming and Bazzell will dominate the men’s event again. If Benmark swims it, then I’d put him at third, even though he’s been a bit sluggish this year in the freestyle (and that is just my bias). Rose has been having a very good year, having already been 1:43.0 in the event and is showing more sprinting ability. It will be interesting to see how Grabijas does having been battling mono, although he looks to be back in form. Jackson and Battoclette will have a great race, as both have been 1:44 this season. Battoclette has been having a breakout season, and if he hits his taper, should end up third. Frayer has been able to put together a strong 200 but isn’t as strong in the longer event.
Freshman Molly DeWald is a virtual lock for the event. She has been 1:04 at midseason, less than half a second away from the A cut. Although Libby Counsel has looked sharp this year, I don’t see her touching DeWald. The Albion duo of Nicki Rockentine and Ashley Collins will not be far behind although Collins is a 200 breaststroker and Rockentine has looked off this year. Audrey Dalrymple of St. Mary’s and Crystal Jager of Olivet have both gone 1:08 this year, but Dalyrymple is more of a distance breaststroker so Jager will have the advantage. Hope’s breastrokers, Heckenliable and Krueger will be jockeying to round out the top 8 with Kalamazoo’s Edsall and Kate Chamberlain. Alma’s Madison Behmlander should also be in contention for top 8.
Chris Mannning is looking to repeat as champion in this event, and is only three-tenths off an A cut (and about two-tenths away from his school record). Hope has three solid breaststrokers in Huisingh, Ludema, and freshman Alex Perkins. Scott Venettis of Albion had a great season last year, let’s see if he can keep it up. Greg Gorham of Calvin has made a strong argument for himself this year having already been 59.3 at midseason. The last few spots are up for grabs and will have some more swing points that either will go to Kalamazoo or Olivet. Can Mauk get under a minute? Will Marquette be able to step up? Can Kalamazoo’s breaststrokers like Stetson and Eric Schuman have a big swim (I think Schuman will score)? If Waterstone scores for points, he could be under a minute and sneak into top 8. This event could be huge for Hope, as they could have four people in the top heat. The last few spots are up for grabs and will depend on who steps up.
Monica Bressler looks to be favored in the backstroke and is her event to lose. Hope is very deep in this event with Laura Cameron, but so far she has looked a little off. She has been battling some injuries but looks to be hitting her stride now. Katheryn Schewe (Hope) is also having another solid year, but Kaitlin Weeks is looking to place top 3. Also from Hope are Lisa Heyboer, freshman Maria Kieft, and Alicia Tuuk. Caitlin Alexander and Brianna Vanden Ende of Calvin will also be vying for spots. Jordan Newhouse of Alma could also make a run at the top 8.
Kellen Beckwith is looking to go out on top his senior year, and is probably hoping to break the 50. barrier. With four of the top eight finishers not coming back, there is a lot of room for people to move up this year. Alex Armstrong (Kzoo) has had solid drops at each taper meet he swims, while senior Steve Brower looks to get back down to the 51 range again after a great quad meet last weekend. Hazekamp will look to break up the Kzoo tandem, as well as get under 52 for the first time. Nick Edgar of Olivet and Aaron Rittenhouse of Hope have presented strong cases so far, while Andrew Mitchell of Calvin has been solid as well. Mike Mette of Olivet, Sam Allison of Calvin, and Tyler McFarland (I think he swims for points) of Kalamazoo will be looking to round out the top heat. This event has lost a lot of depth due to so many senior backstrokers last year.
Women’s 1M Diving
Samantha Klassen and Carmen Brummel of Calvin look poised to have strong finishes at leagues. Kyleigh Sheldon and Jessica Warner of Hope are also returning. Albion has a few divers in Amy Bell and Lauren Rao. The conference is once again weak in diving on both the men’s and women’s sides.
800 Free Relay
Hope College was flying at midseason, missing the B cut by about a second. The team of Sarah Sohn, Bethany Schmall, Skylar Darish, and Libby Westrate put together a time of 7:47.98. If Hope thinks they can beat Calvin, then Westrate has to be on this relay, although she has to sit one. Calvin looks like they will also put together a solid relay team but will most likely sit Monica Bressler on this relay. They have a lot of depth and should be favored, even with the big midseason swim by Hope. Kalamazoo should finish third with the help of freshman Alex Stephens. Albion looks strong and is returning all four swimmers. Olivet and Alma looks like it will be a good race, especially being so close at midseason. St. Mary’s team of Watson, Price, Dalrymple, and Griffin could challenge for fourth even after losing two of their legs.
Kalamazoo looks like the favorite hear, bringing back all four members of their 6th place team at nationals in the event. Bazzell, Benmark, Manning, and Fleming are probably eyeing the MIAA meet record, which they failed to break last year but have been much faster at midseason. Hope will probably sit Frayer on this relay, and go with Grabijas, Shade, Hazekamp, and Rose. Hazekamp was 1:46.3 flat start at midseason, but Ludema put up a solid time of 1:47.2. One thing that could be done is have their fourth leg (Shade, Hazekamp, Ludema) lead off to get another flat start time, with the possibility of getting an aggregate time to nationals.
Olivet has a few questions for their lineup. Beckwith is one of their fastest guys, but given the opportunity to take Hope in the sprint relays, I think he sits this one. Given that Fiorillo seems more of a 50/100 guy, they can sit him on this one and let Brock Jackson swim it. Austin Munn and Mike Mette were both on the relay last year, but have looked off so far this year. Maxwell had a nice split at midseason (1:47.2) so he could be their fourth option.
Calvin will be challenging Olivet, especially if they sit someone on this relay. Calvin is going to need huge swims out of everyone on the relay, especially Battoclette. Another question is whether or not Rushlow is going to sit this relay as well. He is more sprint oriented, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he sat this one. Bares and Cooper are likely to round out the relay as this will be a strong relay for them. Alma is a sleeper in this event, and if they stack this race, they could take out Calvin. Brunner, Case, Hamer, and Tobin all swam very well together at midseason, and could look to move up. Albion lacks the depth, as after Lundholm, they don’t have much.