The Augustana swim team swam away with a fourth-place finish and several personal achievements at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference swim meet in Bismarck, North Dakota, Feb. 12-15.
The conference championship is the biggest meet of the year, according to freshman Ruth Huffman. Although some of the girls were nervous, they felt prepared.
“It was really nice to have the upperclassmen,” Huffman said. “They let us know ahead of time what the environment was going to be like. We had also already been to the pool during the season, so it helped to know where everything was.”
According to Coach Lindsie Micko, the swim team always has the goal to compete the best they can and get as many swimmers into the finals as possible.
“We are more competitive this year than we have ever been in the conference,” Micko said.
The Vikings took that goal to heart as day one opened with junior Taylor Beagle winning the 1000-freestyle, setting a new school record of 10:10.65 along the way. Senior Emma Miller joined Beagle with a third-place finish and time of 10:17.08, and freshman Cailey Scott came in fifth with a time of 10:31.70.
Later, junior Micah Hudlet placed eighth in the 200-yard IM, and Huffman followed, finishing 13th.
The first day of the meet closed with the 200-yard medley. Senior Destini Oehlertz, sophomore Kamryn Robarge and juniors Merriam Hagadom and Hudlet came in seventh place with a time of 1:46.88. The Vikings’ ‘B’ team took 10th place, as freshman Chrislin Nieuwoudt, sophomore Isabel Waite and seniors Maggie Oberg and Linzie Kreizel finished with a time of 1:49.10.
The second day of the competition started with a successful 400-IM race for the Vikings. During the prelims, Beagle broke the Augustana school record and qualified for the NCAA national meet with a time of 4:28.34. Beagle later won the race with a time of 4:29.64. The Vikings filled out the top 10 with junior Kelsey Gilbert’s fourth place time of 4:36.56 and freshman Huffman’s sixth place time of 4:36.91.
Beagle said she was excited to swim the 400-IM and even more excited to break the school record.
“I was super excited to swim this event, because I’ve trained for it more this year, and it’s my only non-freestyle event,” Beagle said. “I also hadn’t cut time in it since my senior year in high school.”
In the 200-freestyle team relay, Miller, Oehlertz, Robarge and Gilbert snagged a fourth-place spot with a time of 1:36.53. Miller later earned sixth place in the 200-freestyle with a time of 1:53.73.
Day two ended with the 400-medley relay. The Vikings took seventh place and set a new school record as Nieuwoudt, Hudlet, freshman Justine Stellmaker and Huffman finished with a time of 3:55.59.
The Vikings started the third day of competition with strong performances in the 500-freestyle. Miller earned all-conference and third place with a time of 5:00.50. Beagle followed behind with a fourth place finish and time of 5:01.98. Both Miller and Beagle’s times were national qualifiers. Huffman, Gilbert and Scott rounded out the scoring with eighth, ninth and 12th placements, respectively.
Oehlertz took second place in the 100-backstroke with a time of 56.96, and Hudlet placed seventh in the 100-breaststroke with a time of 1:07.09.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Huffman’s time of 2:07.99 earned her a second-place finish; junior Abigail Magee also placed, with a time of 2:11.35 earning her eighth.
The third day concluded with the 800-freestyle relay. Miller, Robarge, Beagle and Oehlertz swam their way to a second-place finish with a time of 7:39.58. Kreizel, Gilbert, Hudlet and Hoffman snagged eighth place with a time of 7:50.59.
Day four of the conference meet started with the 1650-freestyle. The Vikings dominated the top five as Beagle swam to first place, Scott to third and Gilbert to fifth.
The meet continued with the Vikings snagging leaderboard spots across the day’s events. Hagadorn and Hudlet earned 10th and 11th respectively in the 100-yard IM; Oehlertz came in fifth in the 100-yard freestyle. Hudlet and sophomore Alysse Grohs placed eighth and tenth in the 200-yard breastroke.
Four days of swimming can get tiring, but Coach Micko said the girls got better as the meet goes on.
“By the last day, spirits were high and we finished off with some great performances,” Micko said.
At the end of the competition, the Vikings came in fourth place with a total score of 621 points. Beagle attributes the team’s success to the swimmers dynamic and hardwork.
“I think that the depth of the team this year really added to the excitement,” she said. “We had more people scoring in the top eight than we have ever had before.”
Some of the swimmers took home personal achievements, as well. Beagle earned the titles of NSIC Swimmer of the Year and NSIC Swimmer of the Meet, an Augustana first. She is the second swimmer in NSIC history to win both titles.
“It was such a huge honor,” Beagle said. “I was really surprised to have gotten these awards but honored and excited to represent Augie like this.”
Huffman also received the honor of being named Freshman of the Year, becoming the third Viking to earn the title.
“It was exciting getting called as Freshman of the Year,” Huffman said. “I was very caught off guard. When my name was called, I was taken aback. The entire team — for lack of a better word — lost it. They were all very excited.”
Oehlertz and Beagle are now training for the NCAA national meet on March 11-14 in Geneva, Ohio. Oehlertz will compete in the 50- and 100-freestyle, and Beagle will compete in the 500-, 1000- and 1650-freestyle and the 400 IM. The rest of the team is enjoying a two-week break before postseason practices begin.