The Gustavian Weekly

Gusties head to National Championship: Swimming sends six to Shenandoah, Texas to compete

By Michael O’Neil - Staff Writer | March 17, 2017 | Sports & Fitness

Senior Nicole Lohman, Juniors Kate Reilly and Kennedy Holwerda, Sophomore Tanner Sonnek and Maggie Webster, and First-year Matt Allison compete at nationals March 15 through March 18.

Senior Nicole Lohman, Juniors Kate Reilly and Kennedy Holwerda, Sophomore Tanner Sonnek and Maggie Webster, and First-year Matt Allison compete at nationals March 15 through March 18.

The Gustavus Swimming and Diving team is sending six Gusties to Shenandoah, Texas to compete at the Division III NCAA National Championships. First-year Matt Allison and Sophomore Tanner Sonnek are representing Gustavus on the men’s side, while Sophomore Maggie Webster, Juniors Kate Reilly and Kennedy Holwerda, and Senior Nicole Lohman qualified for the women’s tournament. The meet began on Wednesday, March 15 and goes until Saturday, March 18. This marks the first trip to Nationals for Sonnek and Allison and Holwerda, but Webster, Reilly, and Lohman have all experienced the championships before. “We treat nationals like it’s a celebration of the season. We’re excited to go there, swim our hearts out and have fun,” Head Coach John Carlson said.

Both male swimmers had strong showings at the MIAC Championships, and are excited to compete against the top DIII swimmers in the country. Sonnek had an outstanding sophomore season, and was named MIAC Swimmer of the Year. At the conference championships, Sonnek won the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke as well as the 200-meter individual medley.  He will compete in all three events at Nationals, and is the No. 8 seed in the 100-meter breaststroke and the No. 14 seed in the 200-meter breaststroke.  His time of 55.10 was a MIAC championship record. “It is fun to see Tanner progress as a swimmer,” Carlson said. “He does everything right. The fact that he is at nationals is no surprise to any of the coaches or his teammates. He is a hard worker and works diligently on his technique and that is why he is one of the top breaststrokers in the nation. We look forward to his swims.”

Matt Allison also had an impressive First-year season, posting three all-conference times at the MIAC meet. He finished first in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 20.72, which gave him the 15-seed at Nationals.  He finished second in both the 200-meter and 100-meter freestyle. He will compete in the 50-meter at Nationals, and his 100-meter time at the MIAC meet was good enough for an NCAA B-cut time. Carlson was very pleased with Allison’s First-year season. “Matt Allison is having an amazing freshman year,” Carlson said. “We are very excited that he got into nationals and we like his chances both in the 50 and the 100.”

“We treat nationals like it’s a celebration of the season. We’re excited to go there, swim our hearts out and have fun.” — Coach Carlson

Kate Reilly was also a standout at the MIAC Championships, capturing three all-conference times, and participating in four all-conference relays.  She finished third in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle, and 100-yard butterfly. Her 50-yard freestyle time was good enough for an NCAA selection, where she will be the No. 17 seed, and her 100-yard freestyle time qualified her for an NCAA B-cut time. Her teammate Maggie Webster will also compete in the 50-yard freestyle, as he posted an NCAA B-cut time at the MIAC Championships. The Gusties combined to form a formidable relay team, and the four women will compete in the 200 and 400 freestyle and medley relays. “We are very excited to get a relay back at nationals again, on the women’s side,” Carlson said. “It is nice to have experience, three out of the four have been to nationals before.”

Both the Men’s and Women’s swimming and diving teams placed second place at the MIAC championships. For the men, this was a big jump from their fourth place finish last year, and one Carlson was very proud of. “The guys were focused after being fourth place last year,” Carlson said. “It has been their focus all year to get into the top two. It didn’t look too promising going into the meet but they swam their hearts out and swam for each other. In a sport that is innately individual, when you swim together as a team you can do some special things as a group.”

As for the women, the top of the MIAC was not new territory.  They have captured eight of the eleven MIAC titles dating back to 2006-07. “The women really came together as a team and put together some outstanding performances. We talked about swimming to inspire, we had swims light a fire under the rest of the team and it would just be one swim after another, after another,” Carlson said.

“We are very excited to get a relay back to nationals again on the women’s side.” — Coach Carlson

In total, the Gusties earned nine all-conference individual times, and had five relay teams with all-conference performances. The team and coaches look to conclude their season on a high note with strong performances at the National Championships. The event will be live-streamed online for viewers from St. Peter and all over the world to cheer on our Gusties.

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