The Rams host Denver for their first home meet of the 2013-14 season.
Oct. 17, 2013
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The Rams will face their first home competition of the 2013-14 season Saturday, Oct. 19 at Moby Pool against the Denver Pioneers. The official meet will begin at noon; diving will begin at 11:15 a.m. and admission is free. Denver poses the first head-to-head opponent and a fierce in-state rival for CSU.
"I’m feeling optimistic heading into Saturday, especially after the way we performed last weekend (at the Intermountain Shootout)," Head Coach Christopher Woodard said. "We will definitely have to step it up to have any shot of beating the Pioneers. Brian Schrader runs a great program. He recruits well, he coaches well, and those girls will be ready for us."
Meeting up against Denver should prove to be a challenge, as the Rams are coming in on the wrong side of Denver’s three-season winning streak (2010-11: 180-120, 2011-12: 190-110, 2012-13: 181-117). However, this streak will be the ignition the Rams need to push their speed and execution to the next level.
"I think coming in with three consecutive losses against DU will be a motivator for some of the returners and especially the Colorado kids, who have grown up and competed against some of the girls from DU," Woodard said. "I think there’s always encouragement when you’re facing an in-state rival and a tough rival. I don’t think they’re necessarily going to look back on the past three losses and let that lay heavily on their minds I think they’re more focused on going in and doing what they can this weekend."
The Colorado State Rams opened the 2013-14 swimming & diving season with one of the youngest teams ever to jump in the water. Fifteen newcomers put on the Green and Gold for the first time, at the Intermountain Shootout, Oct. 11, matching evenly in numbers with seven sophomores, five juniors and three seniors.
"I think it’s a testament to how hard we worked, as well as how fortunate we were that we were able to land that many very qualified and talented freshmen," Woodard said. "That being said, I think we’re looking more at a four-year process with them. I think we addressed many of the weaknesses in our events, but primarily we are looking at diamonds in the rough, and I think we do have some future diamonds."
At the season opener, the large freshmen class made an immediate impact. Many times the freshmen took the highest placement for CSU in individual events. Karin Roh proved to be one of the more consistent freshmen of the weekend. She began by taking the highest finish for the Rams in the 200 Free (fifth at 1:56.99); continued her success in the 50 Free, where she placed third (24.53); and culminated her weekend in the 100 Free where she took first with a time of 52.80.
Freshmen Gabby Morely and Megan Lloyd also made big contributions to the Rams’ success in the distance freestyle and butterfly events respectively. Lloyd had the highest placement for the Rams at fourth in the 200 Fly (2:11.01) and the 400 IM (4:43.18). Her highlight of the weekend was undoubtably her first-place finish in the 200 Breast (2:23.08). Morley’s biggest hits were in the 1650 (18:14.10) and 500 Free (5:16.02), taking third in both races and the Rams’ fastest time in the 500.
"I feel confident in their abilities to develop," Woodard said. "I was maybe a little surprised at how fast some people swam in their very first collegiate meet. That’s just all the more encouraging to me that their progress is going to happen at a little faster pace and maybe with a better end result than we originally anticipated."
SUCCESS ON THE BOARDS
Although the pool is filled with many young faces, CSU returns intimidating strength on the boards. From the 2012-13 season opener, it was clear diving was going to be a highlight of the team. Stepping on competitive collegiate boards for her first time, Ariana Milone won both the 1- and 3-meter diving events, breaking a pool record and landing herself as the second-highest scorer in CSU history on 3-meter boards. For this performance Milone was named the Mountain West Diver of the Week.
Though the diving team had to overcome several serious injuries throughout the season, they made an impressive stand at the MW Championships with every CSU diver scoring in the finals. Milone had the highest finish of the diving squad with sixth and 10th place on 3- and 1-meter boards, respectively. CSU continued its success and brought its largest NCAA Diving Zones team since 2005, taking three divers: Paige Greely, Milone and Maxelise Thorn.
"We should almost be called ‘CSU Diving & Swimming.’ Our diving team is phenomenal," Woodard said. "Obviously Ariana is at the top of that list right now, but across the board all of them scored at conference. Now we have three newcomers, so we’re very excited to see what they can do."
At the season opener the diving team started out the 2013-14 season with the same vigor that they opened the 2012-13 season. The Rams swept the 3-and 1-meter events with huge margins. Taking first, sophomore Greely had her lifetime best performance in the 3-meter diving event. Already holding the position as fifth-highest-scorer in Rams history, Greely bettered her record from 285.45 to 287.55.
The Rams will look to their upperclassmen to lead the new faces on how CSU approaches its dual meets and the proper principals of training. Fortunately, CSU returns several talented athletes, namely seniors Yana Garvey and Madeline Mastrup, junior Tess Simpson and sophomore Jessica Shepard. All four rank among the fastest athletes in CSU history in their respective events.
"We have very capable scorers in Yana and Maddie," Woodard said. "We’ll rely on them pretty heavily in dual meets and when it comes time for conference. Tess and Jessica are also a great tandem; they allow us to do a lot of different things. They both know what it takes to reach the finals at conference, and they fill some very important roles for us in dual meets."
This season the coaching staff — featuring Woodard, head diving coach Kevin Witt, and newly hired assistant coach and former CSU swimmer MacKenzie Brown — will refocus their efforts to polishing process rather than just the win-loss record. However, the team is still determined to continue to improve and make a mark at the MW Championships.
"Our expectation as a staff is to continue to move up the ladder in the Mountain West, and try to finish at .500 or above in our dual meets," Woodard said. "But I’m going to get away from that this year and focus more on process than wins and losses. We have to learn how to do things the right way, the right time, if we want to have success in the future."
Up next for the Rams is the second home meet of the season, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 against Northern Arizona at Moby Pool at noon.
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