Men’s squad, Becker shine

By Josh Sinclair

Feb. 23, 2016

The Whitewater men’s swimming and diving team tied the program’s best finish at the WIAC Championships, taking second in the competition on Feb. 20.

The women’s team finished third out of five teams, and finished 113 points behind UW-Lacrosse, who won the meet.

“The men and women raced really well,” head coach Joel Rollings said. “It was a hard year with illnesses and injuries setting people back. The athletes were really mentally tough after everything they had to go through. We had some great performances and a few people swimming events they haven’t tried before to get more points for the team.”

On the men’s side, the Warhawks, who last finished second at the conference meet in 1970, collected 742.5 points to finish behind UW-Stevens Point (916.5), which claimed its 17th-straight conference title.

  Junior Josh Kanute placed highly in every event he entered throughout the weekend, winning the 200-yard freestyle, finishing runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly and taking second in the 500-yard freestyle.

“I had a long season dealing with a back injury, and to be able to nearly match my best times and come home with an individual win was definitely a success,“ Kanute said. 

Kanute added an All-WIAC finish as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team, along with junior Paul Hill and freshmen Peter Loftus and Sam Douglass. The quartet set a school record and placed second in the event with a time of 3:05.49, just one second shy of the title.

“The reason we saw so much success this year is because we trained like a team, not just as individuals,” Kanute said. “We were able to push each other every day, and also get behind each other and motivate each other at every opportunity.”

Freshman Thomas Stigler led a group of four Warhawks among the top eight in the 200-yard breaststroke. Stigler touched the wall in 2:08.18 to place third, while junior Alex Carroll finished fifth with a mark of 2:09.96. Junior Kyle Amundson was sixth with a 2:11.17, and junior Spencer Twining was seventh with a 2:11.88.

For the divers, seniors Riley Maher and Keefer Kuhl each placed among the top five in the 1-meter dive. Maher scored a 384.10 to finish fourth and Kuhl tallied a 374.15 to place fifth.

The women were led by senior Sierra Becker who earned the WIAC Women’s Diver of the Meet award for the second time in her career after finishing a clean sweep of the diving events
Saturday. After winning the 1-meter dive for the fourth straight year, Becker claimed the 3-meter dive title with a total of 460.55 points, just one-tenth of a point shy of her school record in the event.

“We lost a lot of All-Americans and we have a very young women’s team,” Rollings said. “Placing third is a really good accomplishment. With a large team there are performances across the board the swimmers and divers put a lot of time in energy into their sport, and we’re always evaluating what we did well and what we need to improve on.”

Senior Stacey Kincade placed in a pair of events to lead Whitewater’s swimmers. She earned All-WIAC accolades in the 1650-yard freestyle, taking second place with a time of 17:37.98. Kincade was also fourth in the 200-yard butterfly with a 2:12.51.

Kincade was joined on the medalist stand in the 1650 by junior Margaret Lotzer, freshman Emily Champa and junior McKenzie Asplund. Lotzer was third, Champa was seventh and Asplund was eighth.

“Next year, we return almost everyone from this conference team so I’m hoping the women come back in even better shape and ready to go,” Rollings said. “The top two teams lost a lot of seniors so next season is a big opportunity for our program.”

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