NCAA Division II Swim Meet of the Week: It’s Championships Season! Drury, Indianapolis, McKendree to Clash in GLVC Championships

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Bailee Nunn will be looking to win Drury its fourth straight conference title. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Division II Swim Meet of the Week

It is officially conference championship season in Division II swimming and diving circles as the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships will kick off this week in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and will be Swimming World’s NCAA Division II Swim Meet of the Week.

The meet will begin Wednesday morning (February 12) and will go through until Saturday night.

NCAA Division II Swim Meet of the Week

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Is this the year Drury can end UIndy’s streak? Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

On the men’s side, there will be four teams ranked in the top ten with #2 Drury, #4 Indianapolis, #5 McKendree and #8 Lindenwood all set to do battle for the conference title. Add in #16 Missouri-St. Louis, #21 Missouri S&T, and #25 Lewis, and you have one of the can’t miss meets of the Division II season.

Indianapolis has won the last two men’s team titles, first dominating in 2018 but then getting some serious pressure last year from Missouri S&T. The Greyhounds are the favorites to win a third straight title this season but it will not be easy this year with the presence of Drury, who passed them in the final Division II poll last week.

Indianapolis was #1 in the CSCAA Division II poll but fell to number four last week after being passed by UC San Diego, Drury and Queens. Now, UIndy will get a chance to stake their claim as a national title favorite against conference rival Drury to showcase who is in good shape to try and end Queens’ run at the top.

Indianapolis is ranked at the top of the conference in three of the five relays with Drury (400 medley) and McKendree (800 free) holding the other top spots. Relays will play a crucial role in the team standings this weekend and whoever’s sprinters will show up in the best shape will be key in who hoists the trophy on Saturday night.

Indianapolis has the strengths in sprint freestyle with Victor Antonon Rodriguez holding the top spot in the conference in the 50 free and Jeron Thompson holding that spot in the 100. Ante Lucev (backstroke) and Jan Zuchowicz (breaststroke) should also provide a strong front half to the medley relays for the well-rounded Greyhounds team. They are missing defending national champion in the 1650 Adam Rosipal, who has transferred to Kentucky, but they have a solid replacement in Stanislav Chalat, who is third in the conference in the mile.

McKendree also has the strengths in the relays as they have a very strong freestyle core that we have highlighted on this website before. The Bearcats have only been in existence as a swim team for four years as Jimmy Tierney has helped build a national Division II powerhouse in a short period. Xander SkinnerLuca Simonetti and Matija Pucarevic have been conference champions in all of the free relays at least once in their careers at McKendree, and now Pucarevic and Simonetti are in their senior seasons, so this will be a perfect opportunity for them to go out as winners. McKendree has been strong up front with relays and individual champions, but they have lacked the depth to really contend for a team title. Now they have that depth, and this is their chance to shine.

Drury is a Division II powerhouse that has been around the scene a long time, winning 12 national team titles with the last coming in 2014 before the start of Queens’ run. They are led by Pavel Semochkin this year, who has the top time in the conference in the 100 fly and 100 breast, as well as Nathan Bighetti, who is the top backstroker in the country. Perhaps Drury will be saving themselves for the NCAA championships in four weeks, but they will likely want to put on a good performance in the conference championships to springboard some momentum into nationals.

Can anyone end UIndy’s two-year winning streak? Can McKendree complete the impeccable four year rise to the top with a conference title? Can Drury get back to the top of the national rankings?

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Drury women will shoot for their fourth straight GLVC title. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The women’s meet should be competitive as well as #3 Drury and #4 Indianapolis are both shooting for the conference crown. The meet will be different this year with the presence of #8 Lindenwood, who is making its debut in the GLVC this year. Add in #20 McKendree and the women’s meet is equally as stacked as the men’s meet in terms of national talent.

Drury has won three straight conference titles and looks to be in prime position to win a fourth straight with Bailee Nunn and Tori Sopp set to score a lot of points. Nunn is the NCAA record holder in the 200 breaststroke but hasn’t performed up to expectations this season. But Nunn should never be counted out as she looks to help Drury claim its first national title since 2014. Drury has had seen big swims out of Rebecca Cross as she is the top ranked swimmer in the 200 breaststroke. Laura Pareja is the top ranked in the 100 backstroke that should make the Drury medley relays tough to beat.

The long distance group of Erica Dahlgren and Amanda Weber should also be tough to beat for the Panthers alongside Lindenwood’s Jana Hellenschmidt as Hellenschmidt and Dahlgren are ranked in the top ten in Division II in all three events.

The UIndy women have a strong team this season that could push Drury all four days of the meet. Edda Skoric is the top ranked swimmer in Division II in the 200 backstroke and UIndy also has Marizel van Jaarsveld (200, 400 IM) and Maria Rezilho (100 breast) as number one seeds in their respective events.

Both schools have the star power to win, but it may come down to who can get more fifth and sixth places, as well as who can have more B-Finalists. Every little point matters in a championship meet, and it should come down to the last day to determine a winner.

That is why it is the NCAA Division II swim meet of the week.

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