Confident Hawkeyes Head to NCAAs


March 15, 2016

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    Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


    IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving student-athletes are headed to the NCAA Championships this week, joining 318 participants in the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta. For two Hawkeyes, it marks a return trip to the meet with higher goals and expectations.


    Juniors Calli Head and Emma Sougstad are returning to the championships, while junior Lydia Lehnert qualified for the first time in her career. Sougstad and Head’s has given them a better idea of what to expect this time around.

    “I am excited,” Sougstad said. “I am not as nervous this year because I know what to expect. I had a pretty good (performance) at the Big Tens, so now I am looking forward to going there and bettering my times there.”

    Sougstad will swim in three events — the 200 IM and 100 and 200 breast. She holds the ninth-fastest time in the country in the 100 breast, coming off the Big Ten Championships where she swam a time of 59.22. She hopes to learn from her experiences last year and become an All-American.

    “I learned a lot last year from my former teammate Becky Stoughton, who became an All-American,” Sougstad said. “I saw what she went through and how hard she worked. I know I have to step up in order to be an All-American, so I am excited to see what happens.”

    For Head, she is coming off an seventh place finish at the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships on March 9 to earn her a spot in NCAAs. Her return has given her more confidence going into an always chaotic atmosphere.

    “Last year was a little intimidating,” Head said. “It was a new experience, I had never gone before and it is a big and competitive meet, but I after going there I realized I can be competitive there. Going into the championship with that new level of confidence should help me.”

    As for the first-time NCAA qualifier, Lehnert has the luxury of going to this meet with two teammates who have gone through the process before. The key is to not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event and enjoy the experience.

    “I want her to go and have fun because it is such a cool experience,” said Head. “This is one of the biggest meets and she should trust in herself and her training because we are all prepared and ready to do well there.”

    “I still have to learn how the NCAAs work,” Lehnert said. “I know they were pretty nervous last year and I think they are more confident going into it now, so I want to watch and learn from them this year.”

    Overall, the Hawkeyes are poised for success with two experienced Hawkeyes and one eager to take it all in.

    “This whole year has been about confidence,” Sougstad said. “I am excited to go, compete, beat some girls, and tell my teammates about it.”

    The NCAA Championships take place March 17-20 in Atlanta.

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