Division III Meet of the Week Preview: Hope vs. Kalamazoo

11/14/15 - Kalamazoo, MI: Kalamazoo College Swimming and Diving vs Albion. Kalamazoo College Women defeated Albion 187-112. Albion College Men won 201-99. © Chris McGuire Photography.
Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo

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Some intense conference match-ups are on the rise among Division III competition. This week, we look to the women’s side of the MIAA Conference for the meet of the week: Hope vs. Kalamazoo.

Meet of the Week: Hope vs. Kalamazoo (At Kalamazoo, 1 pm)

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Photo Courtesy: Lauren Seroka

Both Hope and Kalamazoo had swimmers or divers at last year’s NCAA Championships. Hope’s Sarah Sheridon is the reigning NCAA Champion on three meter and also placed third on one meter. Even though she has graduated, Hope still has three divers on deck. They will most likely be unable to out-score Kalamazoo’s Madeline Woods who also dove at NCAAs in 2016. At last year’s contest, Kalamazoo got the edge 157-143, but was then out-scored 740-717 at the MIAA Conference Championships.

Kalamazoo will look to 2016 NCAA qualifiers and seniors Tristyn Edsall, Christina Park and Colleen Orwin to each win events against a deep Hope squad. The trio were the only swimmers to win events for the Hornets at this meet in 2015. Park will have her hands full battling Hope senior Molly Meyer, who she out-touched narrowly last year by less than two tenths in the 200. Park will be more dominant in the 100 but expect these to be the races to watch.

While Edsall (sprint free) and Orwin (fly/IM) should win their repspective events pretty handedly, expect Hope to dominate in the the rest of the freestyle events. Sophomore Sydney Assalin had a pair of dominant wins last year and had solid backup from Elizabeth Fris and Chloe Palajac.

This depth could make the freestyle relay the event to watch, especially if it is a 400 free relay. Last year, Hope got the upper hand by .06 seonds after an incredible come-from-behind 52.52 anchor leg from Edsall. For reference, she swam a 54.66 in the individual event and a 52.49 at the MIAA Championships.

On paper, it appears that Kalamazoo’s veterans should lead them to victory over a young Hope team, especially with Woods potentially winning both boards this year. But Hope will certainly be in the mix and will need to win at least one relay to secure the victory.

Others to watch:

Pomona-Pitzer Invitational (At Pomona-Pitzer, 2 pm)

The Pomona-Pitzer Invitational will showcase some of the SCIAC’s and NCAA’s fastest swimmers in Division III. Pitzer returns all four All-Americans from last season on the women’s side, while the men return four of their five NCAA qualifiers including All-American Mark Hallman. For Redlands, NCAA-qualifier Ellie Jacques should lead the way in the IM events.

Adrian Hui has already made an impact in the 50 free, swimming a 21.37 last weekend, putting him sixth in the national rankings. Other swimmers to watch include Madison Kauahi, Angela Ling, Mackenzie Cummings and Sarah Jin for Pitzer. The group of four placed sixth in the 200 medley relay at last year’s NCAA Championships.

For Redlands, Katherine Canfield should be dominant in the backstroke events, while Kristina Fong will be a contender to win the sprint free and back events as well for SCIAC’s Chapman University. Her teammates Connor Broughton and Quinn Gates should do the same in the freestyle events. The duo will be up against a strong pair of Redlands’ men in Zack Amendola and Harlan Long, so these will definitely be the events to watch.

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Photo Courtesy: Pomona-Pitzer Athletics

Ohio Northern vs. John Carroll University (At JCU, 11 am)

At last year’s OAC Championships, JCU placed second while ONU took home third. At their dual meet last year, it came down to the wire as JCU got the edge 152-147. This year, ONU’s 2016 NCAA qualifier is not competing, so they will have to rely on junior Sydney Veon to have an upset swim or two against JCU. However, JCU also lost key breaststroker Lindsey Fano to graduation, the the field is evened a little bit in that regard.

Nonetheless, JCU returns a strong women’s squad this year. Sprinter Amanda Casamatta will lead the way after placing second in the 100 and 200 free at least year’s meet and second in the 50 and 100 free at last year’s OAC Championships. Junior Carly Adams will have a chance to get an edge on OAC competition in the backstroke races after being last year’s runner-up in both distances at the OAC meet. Sophomore Chloe Ruggiero will step up to fill the breaststroke hole for JCU, while junior Anne Crowley should win the butterfly events.

For ONU, junior Molly Wheeler should provide some competition in the breaststroke and sprint freestyle events. Junior Kasey Mucher was victorious in the 1000 at last year’s dual meet and will be looking to repeat that performance. She out-touched JCU’s Alex Iosue by .88 seconds by swimming a stellar last 50. Classmate Hailee Sautter will also have the ability to make an impact in the distance events after placing second in the 500 last year. ONU also won the 400 free relay last year, but this will be tough with the loss of two of their sprint studs from last year.

Overall, it looks like John Carroll should come out on top in the end this time around. But both teams lost some key players this season and have great depth overall. The sprint and distance freestyle events will play a big role in the final outcome, as will diving.