By Andrew Zuhosky
Starting on Feb. 25, the top aquatic talents in the Horizon League will converge on the Brown Deer, WI Walter Schroder Aquatic Center for the 2015 Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championship, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers.
The Penguins had a strong showing at the event in last season’s championship, highlighted by Bec Stafford placing third in the one-meter dive. Jana Janson later broke the program record in the 50-yard freestyle for quickest time (23.72 seconds).
Youngstown State University looks to have a repeat performance this year. There are several teams that look to test Youngstown State University heading in the championship. Multiple teams look like they could come out ahead of the Penguins.
Senior backstroke swimmer Ashley Dow said she believes that either the Milwaukee Panthers or Oakland University Grizzlies will provide the toughest test for the Penguins come time for the championship.
“They’re both really strong teams, and they have really strong swimmers,” Dow said.
Dow predicted that the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames will give YSU the most fits when the championship arrives.
“We were really close to UIC and Oakland’s got some good girls, too,” she said.
Dow couldn’t zero in on one person as the team’s best swimmer. The team is composed of young talent that had to compete early.
“We have a lot of good girls, like McKensie Stelter and Lydia Scheringer for diving, all four of the freshmen we got in this year are amazingly fast,” she said. “I think they’re going to do wonderfully at the championships.”
Neither Dow nor freshman freestyler Viktoria Orosz think YSU can take the title at the end of the month.
“We don’t really have the numbers,” Dow said. “We’ve got some fast girls and strength on our team, but we don’t have the numbers.”
Orosz said she thinks her toughest test will come from a swimmer from UIC, citing their similar times on the 1,000-meter freestyle.
“We had a good competition a couple of weeks ago on the 1,000-meter,” Orosz said. “I can’t wait for the race.”
Freshman diver McKenzie Stelter suffered a concussion earlier in the season. Members of the team said they believe Stelter is one of the best divers on the team. Unfortunately her diving hasn’t been consistent since returning.
“McKenzie was out for a month probably with the concussion from the beginning of November to December,” head coach Matt Anderson said. “She’s been back for a month now, but she’s just had a bit of a rough time getting everything put back together as far as where her dives are at.”
Stelter has been a workhorse in her preparation for the championships.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work and extra training, so I think it’s all going to pay off for conference,” Stelter said.
Orosz said that the team’s been looking forward to the conference championships since the year began.
“We train the whole year and we just started to taper to rest,” she said. “I think we’ll be ready for the tournament.”
Unlike her teammates, Stelter was more optimistic when asked about the team’s championship chances.
“We have a lot of good girls on the team,” she said. “I think that if we all do our best, then we have a good shot.”
Freshman swimmer Madison Aranda echoed Stetler’s optimism heading into the conference championship.
“We have a lot of really good swimmers and divers,” she said. “I think that we, all of us together, working really hard, can accomplish a lot.”