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Amelia Kashian
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Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererApril 23, 2024

Swim team falls to GVSU in home finale

The NMU swimming and diving team held its final home meet of the season on Saturday, losing to the Lakers of Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

Sophomore NMU diver Kelli Vander Baan scored enough points to earn a place in the NCAA Division II National Championship meet, to be held in March in Houston. Vander Baan’s qualifying score of 259.27 placed her second in the 1-meter event.

Because big meets like conference championships are often not conducive to meeting qualifying standards, dual meets like Saturday’s are a diver’s best chance at qualifying, diving coach Andy Ward said.

“She had a lot of pressure on herself,” he said, explaining Kelli knew it might be her last chance to qualify. “I was very proud of her for the fact that she ended up staying consistent, calm, cool and collected.”

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Divers who meet qualifying standards in one event earn the right to compete in both events at Nationals, so Vander Baan will also participate in the 3-meter competition.

“(I’d like) to do better than I did last year,” Vander Baan said of her goals for this year’s competition.

Last year she placed 12th in the 3-meter board and did not make it past the preliminary round in the 1-meter. She said she is hoping to finish in the top eight in at least one of the events and qualify to be an All-American.

Kelli’s sister Kara also contributed points for the Wildcats, finishing third in the 3-meter event and fifth in the 1-meter.

The Lakers won all 10 swimming events of the afternoon and took the overall meet by a team score of 170-69. Despite the large disparity in scoring, however, head coach Bob Laughna saw many positives.

“It was a good meet,” he said. “Their times are not that far off. They’re tired, we’ve been training more.”

Two athletes Laughna was especially impressed with were 400-yard individual medley swimmers freshmen Stephanie Rogaczewski and Elyse Sawka, who placed fifth and sixth, respectively.

“I was happy with Elyse and Stephanie,” Laughna said. “(It was) the first time they’ve swam that this season.”

Other swimmers who turned in solid performances were senior Emily Olson, (who placed third in the 100-yard butterfly), junior Sarah Cempel (third in the 1000-yard freestyle and fourth in the 500), and junior Brenda Zickus (fifth in the 100-yard freestyle).

In the closest race of the day, rookie Wildcat Ashley Oliver took second place in the 100-yard backstroke, less than two-tenths of a second out of first.

Another high point of the meet was the 400-medley relay team turning in a season-best time of 4:16.62.

“I was happy with that,” said Laughna, who has struggled to find successful relay combinations all season. The same team of Oliver, junior Hannah Bolger, Olson and Zickus will compete at the GLIAC Championships.

The next and final meet on the Wildcat’s regular season schedule is the GLIAC conference meet, which will be hosted by GVSU and will start on Wednesday, Feb. 11. To prepare for the meet, Laughna has his athletes tapering for the next week. Before the taper started, however, the athletes went through a rigorous workout period.

Additionally, over winter break, the team traveled to Coco Beach, Fla. for a six-day training trip. During that time, the swimmers practiced twice a day and accrued between 18,000 and 19,000 yards.

Right now Laughna wants to give his athletes easier practices to allow them to recover, meaning shorter practices and workout yardage.

With regards to his expectations for the meet, Laughna is hoping to place higher than last year.

“It’s going to be close,” Laughna said. “I’m sure that most of them will really do well. They’re looking forward to it.”

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