CSU will face No. 13 Tennessee, Duke and Kentucky this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn.
Nov. 14, 2012
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The Tennessee Invitational
The Rams are ready for the opportunity to redeem their 0-5 win-loss record at the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville, Tenn. at the Jones Aquatic Center. The Invitational will begin Thursday, Nov. 15 and continue through Saturday, Nov. 17.
“I feel good, as always, heading into this invitational,” Head Coach Christopher Woodard said. “If we’ve done the work that we were supposed to do, and I think we’ve prepared well all season, then rest is the remedy. Rest should bring us great results.”
First break of 2012-13 season
The swimming & diving team began its season with a lineup of its toughest opponents right from the beginning. There has been little opportunity to rest with back-to-back meets and invitationals every weekend since their first meet against Denver, Oct. 20. This past week, Nov. 4-10, was the first week the Rams did not have to prepare for an upcoming weekend competition. The coaches made sure the past two weeks allowed the athletes ample opportunity to rest.
“We’ve pulled back a little bit on the overall intensity in our workouts and a little bit in our volume and probably just taking out some of the dry land and weight lifting sessions,” Woodard said. “Removing that component allows their muscles to recover. Sprinters are able to sprint and distance swimmers are able to hold slightly faster paces.”
For the third season in a row the Rams have hit a five-meet losing streak. During the 2011-12 season the Rams used the losses to motivate them heading into the Cougar Classic Invite. There they exceeded expectations and finished fifth out of 10 teams. CSU is hoping for a similar comeback at the Tennessee Invitational.
“In a way [the losing streak] was good, because the girls knew we had talent coming in this year and they saw that we were voted fifth in the conference in the preseason poll. And I don’t think they thought it was going to be easy, but I think this teaches them that nothing is a given,” Woodard said. “You can’t always think that your team is going to be at 100 percent and everyone is going to be available. They need to start looking at it as opportunities to address weaknesses in their own swimming and helping their teammates address weaknesses in their swimming as well.”
Injuries and illnesses
One of the causes of the losing streak has been the onslaught of injuries and illnesses that have hampered the team this season. Several of the new recruits, who were expected to add considerable depth to the team, have been out since the beginning of the season with injuries. The top diver of the team, Ariana Milone, was injured at the dual meet against Wyoming and has been out since. These injuries, coupled with common sickness, has left the team weaker than expected.
“A couple people are starting to heal and will be at 100 percent. Unfortunately we’re still going to be without five conference athletes and that’s certainly difficult,” Woodard said. “But at this point it’s about who is healthy in the water and who can go. We’ll give our injured and ill kids as much support as we possibly can and hope they return in the second half of the season.”
Mountain West Championship preview
CSU was planning on attending the Houston Invite this weekend, but to allow for more time in the pool for the athletes, Woodard made the decision to join the Tennessee Invitational instead. At Tennessee, the competition will allow for valuable practice with night swims at a competition very similar to the MW Championships, which take place Feb. 20-23.
The Invitational will be scored the same as the Championships and have the same number of events. The Rams will face morning preliminary swims and dives where the top 24 in each event will be invited back for the finals. In the finals, the top 16 athletes will score points for their teams.
“In an invitational situation you don’t have that head-to-head competition [of a dual meet], everyone is just fighting for night swims,” Woodard said. “It’s a good conference preview. Obviously it doesn’t have the depth, but the talent is undoubtedly there . . . I expect everyone will be ready.”
The Lady Vols have an unbeaten season so far and are coming off their most recent win against Ohio State, 191-109. Tennessee won 15 events in the 16-event meet. Three of those 15 events were won by Lindsay Gendron, who was just awarded the Southeastern Conference athlete of the week for Nov. 4-10. Gendron has top-10 times in the country in four freestyle events.
Tennessee is arguably the toughest opponent the Rams have faced this season. Tennessee is currently ranked 13th in the nation and is the only nationally ranked team the Rams have faced in their season so far.
Duke Blue Devils
Duke has had an up-and-down season so far with a 2-3 record, but has gained national recognition after its most recent meet against Miami. Colorado native Christine Wixted has recently been ranked in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke, and will pose a challenge to CSU’s top breaststroker Kelly Mathews.
The Wildcats have a diving team that will test CSU’s squad. Kentucky’s Rebecca Hamperian was named SEC Female Freshman of the Week for her performance on boards Oct. 28-Nov. 3. At Kentucky’s dual meet against Auburn, Hamperian won the 1- and 3-meter diving events with lifetime bests in both events and the first sweep of her career.
What to look for
The freshman class has been allowed a unique opportunity with several of the upperclassmen out for the considerable future. The gaps created by their injured teammates have allowed the freshmen to step up and earn much-needed points for the Rams.
Bailey Williamson, Erica Stock and Jessica Shepard were all recognized by Woodard for their quick adjustment to all the added pressures of swimming at the collegiate level.
The group add their skills to the team in the backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. At the Albuquerque Invite, Shepard finished third in the 100 Backstroke (58.30), Williamson was third in the 200 Butterfly (2:12.90) and Stock placed fourth in the 200 Breaststroke (2:26.35).
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