PHOENIX, Arizona, January 17. SEVERAL of the top Division II schools will be in action this weekend, and any misstep could shuffle the rankings significantly. Wingate will compete in its first meet in a month and a half, while UC San Diego, Grand Valley State, Indianapolis and Florida Southern will look to build on their performances from last weekend. Here’s a look at four meets to watch this weekend.
UC San Diego vs. Cal Baptist
There may be no hotter team in Division II right now than the UC San Diego Tritons, who continue to put up impressive times against Division I opponents. The Tritons have already competed in three meets since the start of the new year, with wins over Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word and CSU Bakersfield on the women’s side and CSU Bakersfield on the men’s side. This weekend, they’ll take on California Baptist in the team’s second to last meet before the conference championships. Look for more strong performances from senior captains Nicholas Korth, Alex Merrill and Anji Shakya, who all recorded individual victories against Incarnate Word and San Jose State last weekend on Senior Day.
Grand Valley State vs. Indianapolis
Grand Valley State, ranked third on the men’s side and fourth on the women’s by Collegeswimming.com, will look to rebound from losses to Wayne State last weekend with a strong showing against Indianapolis. Three Grand Valley State athletes stood out last weekend, as Gianni Ferrero picked up three individual wins in the 200 free, 500 free and 200 IM and Danielle Vallier and Taylor Wiercinski swept the breaststroke and diving events, respectively. The Lakers actually outscored Wayne State in the swimming portion of the meet, but got walloped in diving. They’ll need a better showing from their divers to top Indianapolis, who is ranked 10th in the women’s standings and fifth in the men’s. Indianapolis is coming off dual meet wins over Wabash (men) and Hillsdale (women) last weekend, where three swimmers posted individual B cuts – Justin Rossillo (100 back), Musaffer Demirtas (100 breast) and Julie Madeira (50 free). The outcome of this meet could likely shuffle the top five teams in the Division II rankings.
Indian River vs. Florida Southern
Saturday’s matchup between reigning National Junior College champs Indian River and Division II Florida Southern should be one for the ages. The Moccasins swept Nova Southeastern last weekend in the team’s final home meet of the season, as Alli Crenshaw and Kelsey Gouge continued their domination this season with two wins apiece for the women. Meanwhile, Juan Tolosa picked up his fifth win in the 1000 free this season, and also finished first in the 500 free. Those three swimmers, along with a host of others, should give Indian River all they can handle in several events. Indian River has had a lengthy break from competition, as the team’s last meet came against Union College in mid-December. Prior to that, Indian River finished second at the Savannah College of Art and Design Invitational, right behind Wingate. With nearly 75 combined NJCAA national titles, Indian River will be ready for anything the Moccasins throw their way tomorrow.
UNC Wilmington vs. Wingate
The Wingate men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will travel to Wilmington, N.C. on Saturday to take on in-state Division I foe UNC Wilmington. This will be Wingate’s first meet in a month and a half, as their last competition came in early December at the Savannah College of Art and Design Invitational. A handful of Wingate school records fell at the SCAD meet, including the women’s 200 breast (Jessika Weiss, 2:18.21), women’s 100 free (Katie Pheil, 50.96) and the men’s 200 breast (Roman Kanyuka, 2:00.42). The Bulldogs will have to be sharp to top the Seahawks, who are coming off a split with College of Charleston last weekend and finished relatively close to the likes Tennessee and Duke in dual meets earlier in the season.