Jena Root’s 100 back time comfortably qualified her for the NCAA Division III Nationals in Oxford, Ohio, two weeks from now. Becca Ney just missed, in all three events, by a total of 8 one-hundredths of a second. Being so close, she is obviously an alternate…the third alternate listed. We’ll have a good idea by Monday whether or not she’s likely to make it…and we’re hopeful, since the nationals go into the first weekend of Spring Break for many schools, and you never know if some swimmer or three across the country just may have already had plans (or a non-refundable ticket).
On the men’s side, we’ll have a good idea by next week at this time if TJ Hardy makes it into the 50 or the 100 Free. It may be a long shot, but we’re hopeful. He’s sitting on the bubble right now, with the strong NESCAC conference still to swim this weekend.
In any event, what an amazing year it was for these three athletes, and our whole team. And, with Jena having another shot at the 100 Back, the 50 Free, and the 200 Back, we may not be done breaking records!
When I was younger, I loved the holidays. It was my favorite time of the year. My favorite holiday was Christmas. Then it was a tie with Halloween and Easter for second. Now as I grow older I still love the holidays, a time for families to come together and celebrate. But, I have added another favorite to the collection…March Madness.
March is the best time of the year for basketball players, fans and coaches. March Madness is when dreams are made, champions are crowned and preparation meets opportunity.
Although the opportunity is in the present, the preparation began long before the season started. During the off-season, players are visualizing hitting the last second shot or scoring the big free-throws to win the championship game. In Schoenecker Arena our players worked endlessly for this opportunity. In each of these situations, their team wins and they never face the fear of the unknown. Now, in the present, players are filled with anticipation, anxiety and hope. It is exciting. Through these emotions, you see team determination, commitment, and care. This is team unity. As these emotions continue to build, you begin to see teams handle them differently. Some teams display uncertainty, hesitation and fear. Other teams show a will to win, a determination to be the best they can be. This is what I want from my team. This is why I am most proud of them. They understand the true value of competition. How the emphasis has to be on the process and being your best and giving it your best shot. They have learned from the journey. This is true celebration. Being your best, with people you respect and care for. What an amazing process!
At this time of year, it is important to remember the beauty that athletics brings with its ability to provide opportunity for its participants to grow, develop and be the best they are capable of being. At St. Thomas we are blessed with players, Alumni, fans, and people who have given their best to make us special! This is our beauty…the people in our program.
God has given us gifts and talents to use to our fullest. Let us enjoy the gift of the present at this time of year. Take chances and risks to allow ourselves to grow and be the best we are all capable of being.
Enjoy this time of year. It is a holiday! A whole month to celebrate what is great about athletics and basketball. I know I am excited, prepared and ready for the great month of March. My Tivo is set to record all the games. Make the most of the opportunities provided and be your best. Make it what you want it to be… Make it something special.”Llife is not the amount of breaths you take; it is the moments that take your breath away! “-Unknown.
As you all know, a week ago, we just completed the most successful MIAC Championship in a long time, breaking 14 school records, producing 14 All-conference performances and and making 68 new entries in our All-Time Top 15 List. The kids swam so well, that the MIAC coaches voted me Men’s Coach of the Year and Women’s Co-Coach of the Year. And, while I am wildly honored, it’s the kids that did it…all of it. They worked hard and really earned the respect of the other teams and coaches in the conference. I’m so proud of them.
Then, one week later, we hosted an alumni meet and reunion, celebrathing 75 years of swimming and diving at St. Thomas. We probably had over 100 alumni at the meet and/or dinner, and had the chance to honor 94 year-old Bob Christensen, the first hired coach at St. Thomas, and the true Father of St. Thomas Swimming and Diving. We also honored Janet Grochowski, the first women’s coach, who started the women’s program in the two years following co-education in 1977.
The Alumni Meet featured children of alums, a generations relay where Alumni, thier children, and current swimmers all joined to make up relays. No racing was allowed, although a “grudge match” between brothers Dave Linn (’05), and Tony Linn (’10) was pretty hotly contested. It was just the joy of watching races like Hall of Famer Dave Willits (’87) swim next to the man who broke his 21-year old 100 Freestyle record, TJ Hardy (’08), or seeing Vickie Manuele Caulum (’83) and her handsome son Nate swimming on the same relay as Jim Beggs (’84) and his daughter Monica (’11).
And the Kids Relay…well…there was more “cuteness” than a warehouse full of kittens and puppies. Swimmers ranged from Lisa Tushaus Anderson’s 6-week-old to Nate Caulum and Jane Schnirring’s daughter Olivia, a freshman at Totino-Grace, and about 20 kids in between. I’m guessing that the whole pool felt as I did…that our hearts were about to burst with joy as these kids flopped, dove, and jumped into the water and swam a length or two in the same water their parents did.
After the meet, we shared a delicious dinner in the Murray-Herrick ballroom. It was a memorable and emotional evening, highlighted by a commemorative documentary created by senior Michael Jordan, whose new company, Epoch Videos, is off to a great start. The children ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and played with a group of about 10 of our current swimmers while the adults talked, laughed, and told stories, many of them true.
We talked about the generations of St. Thomas swimmers and divers, and our place in this wonderful history. For me, it was a day devoted to Family…the concept of family that has been the centerpiece of our program for three decades, and was present in degrees before that. We are, as corny as it sounds, links in a long and very strong chain. And Saturday’s celebration was a joyful reminder to me, as I told the crowd, “I can think of no greater honor than to be related to all of you.”
What can you say about a team that breaks 14 school records, wins four events, has a couple dozen all-conference swims, has 7 national B cuts, and makes about 40 new entries on our All-Time Top 15 list? It was simply the best conference meet we’ve had since the early 90s.
We’ve tapered beautifully over the years and always swum well at the conference meet, but this year, the team improved so much over the course of the year, that we were starting way ahead of most seasons.
I’ll follow up on this theme in a day or so (it’s almost 1:00 AM, and we are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of swimming and diving at St. Thomas with an alumni meet and banquet tomorrow). So I’m going to get some sleep, and enjoy tomorrow right down to my bones. Then, some sleep, and we’ll get Rebecca Ney, Jena Root, and TJ Hardy ready for nationals.
I’ll keep you all posted.
The school record count is now up to 8, and Rebecca Ney won her second event of the conference meet in the 100 Backstroke. Jena Root was 3rd, and both broke 59 seconds in the 100 back, a B national cut, and one that has a great shot at getting both women to Nationals. Becca is the conference Champ, Jena set the school record in the prelims.
This came after the 200 Medley Relay team was DQ’d for a false start (a call I didn’t agree with, but we’ll respect the officials and their decisions, of course). The team had comfortably made the B national cut, and broke the School Record by 2.3 seconds.
On 3m springboard, Kristin Jarnes repeated her all-conference performance of last year, taking 3rd with a great list, and Layla Clauss took second in the 200 Free.
The men’s 200 Medley Relay team of TJ Hardy, John Stark, Kevin Mullee and Tim Mullee broke the school record in the 200 Medley as well. The men’s 800 Free Relay team missed breaking the school record by 4 tenths of a second, and the women broke their 800 FR record by 14 seconds, finishing 3rd in a great race.
The men’s team is currently in 3rd…in a great battle with Carleton. The women’s team is solidly in 5th, trying to close on St. Ben’s.
Prelims tomorrow begin at 10:30, if you can make it to the Aquatic Center to support your courageous Tommie swimmers and divers.
We started the meet with some great swims in the 400 IM and 100 fly…ran into a little bad luck…two 9th places…one in the women’s 100 Fly, and the men’s 400 IM, but otherwise had some wonderful drops.
Then, in the 200 Free, we absolutely caught fire, and that carried over into the 100 Breast and 100 back.
Both Nick Frost and John Stark made it into the Champ finals of the breast, as did Jill Otterson. Krista Horejsi and Tom Becker also will score in the back 8.
Monica Beggs and Layla Clauss will swim in the champ finals of the 200 Free, and Becca Ney and Jena Root both broke a minute, with the school record going to Jena in the 100 Back. Jena’s time of 58.86 is already a solid B cut for Nationals, and will likely get in. But I’m betting that both Jena and Becca better that time, and will be heading to Ohio in March.
In the men’s 100 back, TJ Hardy set another lifetime best, and qualified 4th with a 52.79, which, like his 50 yesterday, is a national B cut.
I’m betting we swim better tonight…and we have two 200 Medley Relay teams that are going to fly, plus two very strong 800 Free Relays. In fact, we should have all four women in the 800 Free Relay under 2:00…and the old record was 8:08.6, set in 1987.
You can follow along in real time by clicking on
Even if you’re not in the stands, waving a purple “GO TOMMIES” bandana, you can cheer the team along.
So far at the championships: 6 new school records, 30 new entries in the All-Time Top 15 list, in only 11 events swum, with finals in six of those events yet to be swum.
No question about it, we’re having one the greatest meets in our history, and swim for swim, we’re swimming better than any other team at the MIAC Championships.
Last year, we had one of the best years in our recent history, with 7 new school records and about 20 new entries in our All-Time list of the Top 15 times. Well, we just about equalled last years performance on the first day of the MIAC Championships!
Becca Ney and TJ Hardy are both conference champions in the 50 Free, both under the national B cut, and the men’s 200 Free Relay was second. We had so many improvments, too, last night in the finals. Swimmers either dropped time or moved up places. It was one of those great days that coaches dream about…and the cool thing is, that we probably have better events, as a team, today and tomorrow.
We are having a spectacular meet…and while all the teams are swimming fast, I doubt that any team is swimming any better than the Tommie women and men. I’m so proud of these kids, and what they’ve earned.
Friday is going to be fun, and fast, and don’t be surprised if we take down another six school records!!
Well, I told the kids to dream the impossible, and then do what they knew they could do…and that the results would lie somewhere in between and probably closer to the impossible.
Well, after one Prelim session of the MIAC Championships, dreams are coming true in a big way.
Becca Ney is qualified 1st in the 50 Free and broke the school record. Jena Root went the 4th fastest 50 in school history, and is qualified 4th.
About six minutes later, TJ Hardy did exactly the same thing in the Men’s 50. Kevin Mullee is also in the finals, and Tim Mullee and Nick Frost are in the back 8. All four guys in the 50 placed their best times on the All-Time list.
Jeremy Anderson is in the finals of the men’s 3m with his best point total of his life, and newcomer Andy Peterson finished 12th, with a point total that puts him 12th on the All-time list.
Andrew Spratt dropped 17 seconds in the 500 and squeaked in 8th, with Mitch Johnson and Teddy Paterson in the back 8. Layla Clauss (7th) and Monica Beggs (10th) both dropped 7-8 seconds in their 500s, and Sam Zastrow (17th) took off 15 seconds, for a 5:31, her lifetime best by a bunch. Erin Weber, who is a flyer and just needed a Thursday event, dropped 12 seconds and went a spectacular 5:38 in her 500.
Elise Andersen and JoJo Nemec and Matt Moore are all in the back 8 of the 200 IM…with JoJo and Elise posting lifetime bests, and Matt almost…he’ll be there tonight with some “outside smoke” from Lane 8.
But maybe best of all, we have a real shot at breaking school records in all four relays, as well as improved performances by TJ and Becca. It’s going to be fun.
How do you put into words the excitement and anticipation and promise of this year’s conference meet? What should we expect from a team that already has a third of its member swimming at or better than their lifetime Personal Bests? The moon? The stars?
In my 29 years here at St. Thomas, I’ve never felt better about a team going into a championships…everyone is so ready, looking so good, and swimming fast in practice. Nobody is looking for the exits or lining up excuses…they’re all talking about records and great swims, and looking foward to competing. What a great feeling.
Come Sunday, I hope to be filling out national entries for a bunch of events, re-writing our school record book and top-15 times lists.
Results will be on the MIAC website: www.miac-online.org. Hope you enjoy following the results as much as we’re going to enjoy creating them!