Oct. 23, 2013
RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada swimming and diving team hosts Pacific at Lombardi Pool at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. The meet with the Tigers will be the first of the season for the Wolf Pack.
“This should be an exciting meet because our teams have very different strengths across the various events,” second-year Nevada head coach Abby Steketee said. “We are in a very demanding training phase but have high goals for ourselves in terms of precision, determination, and unity.”
Wolf Pack Swimming & Diving Season Preview
With a number of experienced swimmers and divers returning to the pool this season, second-year head coach Abby Steketee will look for continued improvement out of the University of Nevada Wolf Pack, with strong results again expected at the Mountain West Championships.
“It’s a young, versatile group on the swimming side and a veteran group on the diving side,” she said. “We’re very strong in the IM/mid-distance events, as well as diving. We’ll focus on peaking at the MW Championships and constantly work to manifest our two mottos: Train with purpose, race with passion and Maximum Cumulative Effort.”
Last season, the Pack finished fifth at the season-ending event in San Antonio and saw a host of personal bests throughout the event.
Mengjiao Mi, multiple school record holder in the pool and a three-time individual MW champion a year ago, graduated after last season, but Mountain West Diver of the Year Stephanie Hansen (senior) will be back alongside the conference’s reigning coach of the year, Jian Li You. En-tien Huang (senior) will also be back on the diving board, as she looks to conclude her brilliant career in style. Huang is the defending three-meter champion in the MW, while Hansen claimed the one-meter and platform titles a year ago.
The diving lineup will be rounded out by senior Jennifer Arnold and sophomore Krista Palmer, who should add depth to the squad.
On the swimming side of things, Wolf Pack fans can expect to see another strong season out of Yawen Li, who set two Nevada all-time records as a freshman in 2013-14. She is currently the school record holder in the 200 Breaststroke at 2:12.78 and the 200 IM at 4:12.74. This season, Li will also see some time in distance freestyle events, as the Nevada coaching staff looks to fill the gap left by Mi, one of the school’s best all-time competitors.
Junior Luzia Vieira will continue to lead the Pack in backstroke events, coming off another strong season in 2013-14. Vieira was 13th at the Mountain West Championships in the 100-yard backstroke at 55.36 and 17th in the 200 back with a time of 2:00.83. Those times were good enough for the best among Nevada swimmers all year. Junior Michelle Forman should see more time in the pool in relay events this season, providing depth in every race. The versatile junior is a native of Carson City, Nev.
A host of talented newcomers will help Nevada compete in a loaded Mountain West this season, including Sita Kusserow, Teresa Baerens, Arantxa Medina-Alegria and Sophia Cieplucha.
“With the addition of last year’s WAC champion San Jose State, the MW became even deeper,” Steketee said. “We are a team that savors challenge and has faith in our ability to work together, bringing out the best in each other. In addition, we want to improve in the classroom and continue engaging in meaningful community service projects.”
Kusserow will specialize in the 200-yard butterfly, where she joins the Pack as the fastest swimmer in that race. She will also develop her skills in mid-distance races. Baerens will also focus on mid-distance races in her first season at Nevada.
Medina will shine brightest in breaststroke and freestyle races, bringing a variety of skills to the pool this season. Cieplucha should compete in the 400 IM and breaststroke events in 2013-14.
“We’ll have to assimilate the freshmen to the intense, fast-paced style of collegiate meets,” Steketee said. “Back-to-back racing is a tremendous component of dual meets and the conference championship.”
Steketee stressed the idea that despite the talented individual pieces on the team, how well the Pack works as a group will determine whether or not they can improve in a competitive Mountain West.
“This year we’re defining success as maximum cumulative effort,” she said. “In other words, how hard we work together on a day-in, day-out basis will determine whether we’re proud of ourselves at the end. Even though swimming and diving are usually seen as individual sports, our success will depend on how we come together; basically, the season is a puzzle and we’re each a piece that determines how the final picture comes out.”
- @NevadaWolfPack --