2011-12 Preview: UR Swimming & Diving Strives for Excellence on Every Level
On the heels of a pair of second-place finishes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), the 2011-12 University of Redlands swimming & diving teams strive to consistently compete at a high level while raising the bar on their definition of success. With visions of local and national achievements, the men work to fill the voids left by a talented graduating class, while the women replenish their roster with versatility, determination and depth.
According to Head Coach Trevor Harp, the swimming and diving programs welcome one of the best rookie classes that he has seen at the U of R since his arrival as a freshman in 2003-04.
"We expect continued improvement and hard work from everyone, which will continue to up our chances of more national qualifiers," he commented. "Seeing everyone get better is what makes it all worthwhile and very exciting as a coach."
Last March, a quintet of men's swimmers pulled off a seventh-place national finish en route to collecting numerous All-America accolades, with junior Chris Depew (Naperville, IL) and seniors Collin Gladys (Yorba Linda, CA) and Tyler Harp (San Bernardino, CA) leading the charge. This year, Depew enters his third season after an impressive showing at the 2011 NCAA Championships where he finished second in the 200 Individual Medley. Gladys strives to build off of his various individual accomplishments, which are highlighted by his 2010 national title in the 200 IM. After capturing his third consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Male Athlete of the Year award, Tyler Harp approaches his final campaign with hopes of individual repeats and even bigger team accomplishments.
With an overall talented crew of competitors, the Bulldog men sit in prime position to bring the big numbers and fast times at every opportunity.
The sprint freestylers, who are among the strongest groups for Redlands, pack quite a punch with a diverse package of contributors. This benefits not only the sprint events but all of the strokes.
Former dual-sport athletes, seniors Steven Zarian (Superior, CO) and Ben Ballard (Riverside, CA), and sophomores Andrew Bone (Claremont, CA) and Spencer Peugh (Alamo, CA), enter the 2011-12 campaign with a newfound commitment to their swimming achievements. They all provide great depth to the squad, especially in the point-heavy relays.
The sophomore class also includes a talented collection of sprinters that works to build off of the momentum gained from last year's exciting run. The only freshman at the 2010 national meet, Clint Freeman (Brentwood, CA) stepped in to a variety of races with intense passion, setting the stage for a solid second year with the Bulldogs. Sophomore Nikolai Paloni (Coronado, CA) returns to action after an eye-opening rookie season that inspired a more dedicated commitment to his training. After putting in some time in the weight room, sophomore Tyler Lopez (Chino Hills, CA) offers improvement in his overall strength and technique, making him that much faster in the freestyle. Equipped with the ability to contribute in sprint and relay races, sophomores Brent Reed (Dublin, CA), Christian Ogawa (San Diego, CA) and Steven Cully (Anaheim Hills, CA) complete the returnees from this group.
Freshman Eric Loprete (Beaverton, OR) joins the team with high expectations to impact the Bulldogs' success, particularly in the sprint relays.
Following the departure of Alec Alders '11, Redlands relies on a smaller but mighty faction of competitors to work toward continued success in the distance free events. All-American Depew strives to step up in an even bigger role while showing off his versatility for longer races. Senior Greg Heinicke (East Wenatchee, WA) enters his final season with a focused mentality that bodes well for the Maroon and Gray. The Bulldogs also look forward to the contributions of sophomore Patrick Wall (Ladue, MO) after finishing second in the 1650 at last year's conference championship meet.
In addition, senior Jordan Suazo (Oceanside, CA), sophomores Quinn Curl (San Mateo, CA) and Grant Harrington (Poway, CA), and junior Ryan Lechleiter (Aloha, OR) offer freestyle talent that bolsters the overall depth of the squad. Rookie David Sekula (LaGrange, IL) brings solid high-school experience as a two-sport aquatics contributor, and shows promise for the future of the Bulldogs.
The individual medley corps emerges as the Maroon and Gray's newest strength for the team. Led by Depew, this unit brings incredible versatility while creating depth and success in all aspects of competition. Freshman Jeff Depew (Naperville, IL) joins forces with his older brother, while Gladys embarks upon his final season with the opportunity to reclaim his title in the 200 IM. Sophomore David Ortyn (Bainbridge Island, WA) and freshman Tim McLaughlin (Pleasanton, CA) offer expertise in this multi-faceted race as well. Senior Jeff Parsons (Newark, CA) looks forward to making the transition from his All-Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) season to the IM as a well-rounded competitor.
According to Coach Harp, the fly has been one of the team's most vulnerable strokes in the past and he looks forward to reloading this group with hungry talent and determination.
"Last year we had several very talented butterflyers on the team, but when it came time for conference, we ended up swimming them in different events," explained Coach Harp. "With a very well-rounded team and a deeper set of men, it looks to be a much stronger year for our butterfly group."
Following his SCIAC championship in the 100 Fly, Gladys inspires the Bulldogs' expectations for competing at an even higher level with his leadership-by-example style. Freshmen Ryan Connolly (Lafayette, CA) and Aaron Magill (Palo Alto, CA) join this contingency as incredible rookies with the ability to make an immediate impact. In addition, senior Will Houser (Redmond, WA), C. Depew and Reed return as contenders in this exhausting yet exhilarating stroke.
J. Depew also serves as the possible missing puzzle piece for the Bulldog backstroke, particularly in the medley relays. Magill and Ballard also supply options in these events, while Heinicke and Peugh join the scene as capable point-scorers.
In addition, junior Patrick Roth (Cottonwood Heights, UT) and sophomore Alex Keith strive to translate their water polo experiences into dedicated breaststroke success. Houser, Paloni and sophomore Tom Sorenson (Greenwich, CT) offer the ability to compete in the breaststroke as well as the sprint free events.
The Redlands women look forward to reloading the roster after a small recruiting class from a year ago. Combining this reality with a heavy graduation of point-scorers, Coach Harp was forced to fill a sizeable hole in the depth of his squad with an impressive influx of talent. With their efforts complementing that of the high-quality returnees, the Bulldogs sit positioned for an exciting 2011-12 season.
Overall, the sprint freestylers boast overall depth and versatility for relays.
"I believe the women's team has the potential to qualify for nationals, particularly in the relays," commented Harp. "We have five to 10 different swimmers who can really compete for that fourth relay spot."
Following numerous top-three finishes at the 2011 SCIAC Championships, junior Allie Bollella (Palo Alto, CA) works to return to the form of her rookie campaign when she was named the SCIAC Female Athlete of the Year.
In addition, the team welcomes freshmen Chandra Lukes (Escondido, CA) and Margo Macready (Redlands, CA) as viable competitors for the Bulldogs. While building off of strong high-school experience, they possess the ability to impact a variety of races. In addition, rookie Summer Harp (San Bernardino, CA) looks to follow in the footsteps of her older brothers as a successful swimmer at Redlands.
The distance free group includes many well-rounded competitors, including seniors Joy Corona (Lake Bluff, IL) and Jenny Bates (Littleton, CO), along with junior Jessica Medvec (Tualatin, OR), as the three most experienced. Corona continues the momentum she established as a strong one-miler in 2010-11, while Bates brings the ability to compete in just about every distance. A multi-faceted and unselfish swimmer, Medvec works to return to the national scene that inspired her as a freshman.
Junior Nicole Pederson (Temecula, CA) and rookie Carolyn Peterson (Lynnwood, WA) add to the Maroon and Gray's options in the various freestyle events.
Despite being abroad in the fall, juniors Lauren Zehner (Portland, OR) and Lauren Campbell (Dana Point, CA) remain committed to training and look forward to rejoining the team later this spring. They both boast the ability to complement the distance lineup while contributing in other events.
Redlands' IM-ers appear young as a group but they boast strength in the leadership of senior McKenzie Nakamura (Kenmore, WA), who embarks upon her last year with determination and optimism for a stellar finale.
Junior Missy Utama (Walnut, CA) returns to action after showing consistent improvement during her sophomore season, which culminated in a third-place finish in the 400 event at the SCIAC Championships.
The Bulldogs' largest component comes out of the butterfly, which includes Zehner as one of the team's best after nabbing back-to-back titles at the SCIAC Championships. Macready's all-around abilities bode well for the squad, with her personal strength coming in this most taxing stroke. Utama and junior Kendall Irish (College Park, MD) bring additional experience, while freshmen Christina Almazan (Anaheim, CA) and Mary Cate Reinert (Parkville, MO) arrive on the scene as the top rookies. But first-year swimmers Hannah McGrath (Haverhill, MA), Megan Jansen (Covina, CA), and Rachael Perius (Redondo Beach, CA) also are poised to score points for the Maroon and Gray.
Redlands boasts a mighty group in the backstroke that shows promise as valuable contributors to the team's overall success. Among them, juniors Caitlin Michaels (Hanover, NH) and Jessie Chansler (Kirkland, WA) look forward to returning from a semester abroad as dedicated and talented swimmers. They head up a crew of newcomers, highlighted by a pair of sophomores who bring incredible depth and versatility for the team's overall betterment. Sophomore Danielle Garza (Redlands, CA) arrives on the scene as a first-year transfer student from Southern Methodist University, while sophomore Jessica Glenn (San Jose, CA) reenters the swimming world after sitting out last season. McGrath, Peterson, and Perius also break into the ranks as viable competitors in the backstroke.
Likely the team's strongest area, the Bulldog breaststrokers anticipate a phenomenal season in which they utilize their higher-end talent and strong leadership.
"Our women's breaststrokers have been and continue to be one of our largest groups on the team," Coach Harp stated. "We are looking forward to replacing several of our strong seniors from last year with new talent this year."
Nakamura strives to round out her impressive career after resetting the school's record in the 100 Breast and 200 Breast. Also wrapping up their swimming tenures at Redlands, senior Jaime Nippert (Gresham, OR) and Bates bring the ability to sincerely influence the Maroon and Gray's scores with their contributions in these events. Utama, along with juniors Lauren Craig (Newcastle, WA) and Stephanie Taylor (Sacramento, CA), provide substantial depth for the squad as well.
In addition, Thiltgen, freshmen Lauren Marzalek (Newbury Park, CA), Paige Valenzuela (Indio, CA), and Rachel Weinstein (Coupeville, WA), along with junior transfer Jennifer Morrison (La Verne, CA), all add to the mix as possible options for the breaststroke and freestyle.
Redlands also looks to a handful of dedicated divers to supply integral points during meets. On the men's side, sophomore Eli Niebuhr (Las Vegas, NV) leads the charge with his solid experiences from a year ago, complete with meticulous form on the boards. Senior Reid Coultas (Hesperia, CA) joins the high-flying performers as a former football player who brings size, strength and athleticism to the boards. In addition, the team welcomes Cully and junior Alex Dow (Temple City, CA) as up-and-coming divers that provide supplemental points for the Maroon and Gray.
The women count on senior Shelby Mann (Bainbridge Island, WA) to finish out her career on a high note. Senior Andrea Bo (Mountain View, CA) and freshman DrewAnn Andrews (Pasadena, CA) rely on their relentless work ethic to contribute to the Bulldogs' success.
With sizeable numbers and dedicated performers, the Bulldog swimming & diving programs look forward to taking on hearty competition in preparation for the conference championships. As they focus on consistent improvement, Redlands sits poised to raise the bar of excellence while chasing after national opportunities.
"Having a little more depth to the team this year will hopefully provide a better-rounded group of competitors," Coach Harp added. "As always, our goal is to be competing for the top spot in conference. I think this is a team that has a good shot at doing some great things within the conference and at nationals."