Sept. 23, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — There’s a new level of hunger on the University of Iowa swimming and diving team heading into the 2015-16 season.
The men’s team had five NCAA qualifiers in 2015 — a year where the team finished 35th in the country with eight points. The women had four qualifiers for the biggest collegiate meet of the year, finishing 38th nationally with 10 points.
The Hawkeyes are aiming for more in 2016.“We’re blessed to have the returning NCAA qualifiers and point scorers. That adds a level of maturity to this young team that the coaching staff can look to.”UI head coach Marc Long
“Even though we had some qualifiers, we didn’t score the points we wanted to (at the NCAAs),” UI head coach Marc Long said Wednesday during media day at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium.
“That makes us even hungrier because we want to be a top 25 program at that meet and beyond. Now it’s time to get there and do more damage.”
The Hawkeye men have four returning NCAA qualifiers in seniors Roman Trussov and Addison Boschult, junior Jackson Halsmer, and sophomore Jerzy Twarowski. Boschult was an honorable mention All-American on the platform, finishing 10th in the event.
The women have two NCAA qualifiers returning in juniors Emma Sougstad and Calli Head. Sougstad posted eight top 10 finishes at the Big Ten Championships and finished 18th in the 100 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships.
“We’re blessed to have the returning NCAA qualifiers and point scorers,” said Long. “That adds a level of maturity to this young team that the coaching staff can look to.”
The Hawkeyes lost two program stalwarts in Becky Stoughton and Grant Betulius. The duo’s names are littered throughout the Iowa record books. They’re gone, but are still providing inspiration to the current roster.
“You don’t replace them,” said Long. “What they leave is what this program has done. Both had tremendous time drops and performance improvements. They leave as inspiration in showing what this program has done and will continue to do.
“There are some Beckys and Grants in this class; it’s a matter of getting the performance out of them.”
Long is excited about the youth in the program, consisting of 18 underclassmen on the men’s roster and 19 on the women’s team.
“We have some freshmen and sophomores we have big expectations for,” said Long. “(The sophomores) come back as different people both physically and mentally in year two. We feel like we’ll have some swimmers emerge in that group.”
The men’s team has two international swimmers — Jack Smith from England and Kenneth Mende from Germany — that could be impact freshmen in freestyle and backstroke events. The women’s team likes the potential of high school All-American Abbey Schneider in distance freestyle events.
Long is eager to get his first look at the 2015-16 squad when the Hawkeyes hit the road this weekend to face Illinois Chicago.
“Having a meet this early is a great team-building experience,” said Long. “We like the energy of this team, and they know there is a lot of development (to be had). We have a hungry group of competitors, and it’s going to be fun to coach.”
Friday’s meet begins at 4 p.m. (CT) from the Flames Natatorium in Chicago. Saturday’s action starts at 10 a.m.