Aqua ‘Cats race to victory in Wisconsin


The NMU swimming and diving team picked up their second dual meet win of the season, beating the St. Norbert Green Knights by a score of 133-70.

This weekend’s dual meet was unique because of the two-meets-for-one format used for scoring. Four teams competed in each event at the same time, but scoring was set up into two dual meets, one for the two Division-I teams (UW-Green Bay, and Butler University), and one for the smaller schools of NMU and D-III St. Norbert. UW-Green Bay won the other meet with a score of 103-74.

Northern dominated the small-school meet, winning 11 of 13 events against St. Norbert. The two events that NMU did not win were the 100-yard freestyle, where senior Sarah Dobratz finished less than a second behind St. Norbert’s Bre Heil, and the 200-yard. Relay, where freshman Kate Willems, junior Courtney Lowry, and sophomores Sarah Cempel and Lindsay VanderBroeck finished behind the Green Knight team by almost five seconds.

Of the overall competition, NMU was able to grab the two diving events from three-time defending Horizon League champion UWGB. The hosting Phoenix won all of the other events. The Wildcats fared much better against the other D-I team. Northern defeated Butler in eight of the 13 events.

“The swimmers and divers felt they could compete with small D-1 schools and they were surprised they could handle Butler,” said head coach Bob Laughna.

Laughna also said the swimmers competed in different events than what the athletes were used to. This was supposed to help the team get an appreciation for the other members on the team.

“Swimming (butter)fly hurts just as bad as swimming a distance event, so I can see where they are coming from when they are training it everyday at practice,” said Cempel.

With the mixed event listing, NMU was able to put up some competitive times. The 200 medley team of Dobratz, sophomore Sarah Van Oss, junior Emily Olsen, and senior Mimi Marschall finished second overall with a time of 2:00.14. Olsen was also able to grab second place in the 100 butterfly and third in the 50 free. Van Oss was able to finish second in the 100 backstroke and third in the 100 breaststroke. Marschall finished second overall in the 200 free and 500 free.

The twin freshmen duo of Kelli and Kara Vander Baan gave some much needed points by going 1-2 in both diving events against St. Norbert. Kelli won the 1-meter diving overall with a score of 209.85.

The Wildcats are still practicing hard at this point of the season, and the coaching style is starting to catch up with the swimmers. Almost all of the swimmers are having slower times than they have had at this point last season, but are expecting the benefits of the more difficult workouts.

“I’ve been around 40 seconds off of my best time, but it is mostly because I’ve been tired,” said Cempel. “But I’m hoping to go a best or even around my best at conference.”

The next action for the Wildcats is against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Titans. The Titans are coached by former NMU head coach Jon Wilson, who left Northern this July over the uncertain future of the swim and dive program.

The meet held will be held on January 26, in Oshkosh, Wis.