The University of North Dakota women’s swimming & diving team welcomes 12 newcomers this season and with just two seniors, the freshmen will be counted on to play a big role in the team’s success. The two seniors have already left their mark on the program. Veronica Medon is coming off her most successful campaign which saw her establish new team standards in the 100 backstroke (55.62), 200 backstroke ( 1:59.62) and 200 IM (2:03.86). Kara Fisher has played a key role in freestyle relays and last season began to establish herself as a force in the 100 breaststroke. Both seniors will be counted upon to help lead a young, but fast team this season.
Last season, the North Dakota women finished with a 7-8 mark in their first
season competing in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The UND women will again
have their hands full with a schedule that includes the likes of Nebraska,
Kansas, TCU, Air Force, and Wyoming on the docket.
“I believe this is the toughest schedule the North Dakota women’s team has faced in the pool,” said fourth-year UND head swimming coach Steve Parsons. “For us to be successful this season we will need to have everyone step up into their roles. The freshmen have great potential and it will be exciting to see how quickly they adjust to college competition.”
In the freestyle events, UND has a good amount of talent returning from last season. The women sprinters will be led by a trio of juniors in Kelsey Richels, Kara Fisher and Sami Puk. Adding to that experience will be sophomore Rachael Wessman, who finished last season as the fastest 50 freestyler for the UND women. In her rookie season, she turned in the number two times in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events. Fisher-- who logged time in the 100 and 200 freestyle events-- is expected to be a force again this season in both the 50 & 100 freestyle events this season.
Three incoming freshmen-- Courtney Funk, Cassie Walth and
Jenny Einhorn-- add much needed depth to the sprint events. Funk comes into the program as the top 50
Freestyle from the state of North Dakota last year.
“Courtney has a lot of power behind her stroke, I really think if we help her refine that stroke she will be a major force in the sprints this season,” Parsons noted.
Walth is equally as fast in the 100 free and has great speed in the 50 free as well. Coach Parsons expects Walth to have an impact in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events right away.
“Einhorn has just as much skill as Courtney and Cassie and will be a force in the 50 and 100 freestyles this season,” said Parsons. “Jenny has the intangibles you look for in the sprints – size, speed and power.”
All three women will also vie for spots on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays this season.
“With the depth we have in the sprint events this season, these young women are going to be battling every practice and meet, it sure will be fun to watch!” Parsons claimed.
Morgan Lynch and Allie Maxwell return for an improved
distance group this season. Both young
women are seasoned and with that experience comes high expectations. Lynch is coming off a record-setting
sophomore season that saw her set new team standards in the 500, 1000 and 1650
“We are looking to continue our development with Morgan, she has shown great desire and has a work ethic that really paid off last season in a big way,” said Parsons. “We will once again look to Morgan to have a solid impact in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle.”
Maxwell is looking to bounce back from what Parsons called an up-and-down sophomore campaign.
“Allie has shown great potential and is expected to have an impact in everything from the 100 freestyle events thru the 1000 freestyle,” he said.
Newcomers Ali Church and Caitlin Quon will add much needed
depth in the distance freestyle events.
Church, a local product from Central High School, comes in with some
great times in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events and will look to
contribute right away while adding the 1000 free event to her repertoire.
“Ali has great potential, we have seen it the 200 and 500 freestyles and will look to see if she can also bring some of that potential into the 1000 freestyle too,” Parsons said. “Another freshman, Caitlin, is one of the most versatile swimmers we have on the team. She seems to get faster as she goes up in distance so expect her to have an impact in the 1000 and 1650 freestyle events this season. This distance group is much stronger this year and should be fun to watch throughout the year. I look for them to be a key factor in our success.”
Medon is coming off a junior season that saw her establish
herself as one of the best to swim for the University of North Dakota. Medon set three school records last season,
two of which came in the backstroke events, setting both the 100 and 200
backstroke standards last season.
“Veronica is one of the most talented swimmers we have ever had here at UND,” Parsons said. “It has been fun to see her mature and develop into truly one of the best to swim at UND. We are looking for Veronica to once again lead the way in the backstroke events this season.”
Joining Medon in the backstroke events this season will be juniors
Sami Puk and Caitlin Jung, sophomore Erin Grabanski and freshman Lotte DeWit.
“Look for the backstroke events to be some of our strongest stroke events this season,” Parsons noted. “With our depth in backstroke, we have a lot of options which is always a good thing. Sami and Erin add depth in the 100 backstroke and Lotte is expected to have a big impact in the 200 backstroke this season. All three will need to be on for us to have success this year.”
Parsons sees the breaststroke as an area for improvement from a season ago. UND returns its top breaststroker from last season, junior Camille Merwin. Her sophomore season was a solid one in which she showed a lot of consistency. Coach will look to Merwin for leadership and noted that she is overdue for a breakout season.
Joining Merwin as returners in the breaststroke events will
be Fisher, junior Caitlin Jung, sophomores Kelli Renner, Rachael Wessman, Kate
Fitzgerald and Alison Tonsanger. Along with a trio of freshmen – Patricia
Tedjaskmana, Alexa Weyer and Kasey Bosch— the breaststroke events will be very
deep events for the UND women this season.
Said Parsons: “Fisher developed into one of our fastest breaststrokers last season and we are looking for her to have that same impact this season. Tonsager had a breakout year in the 100 breaststroke at the conference meet last season and will be looking to expand off that success. Our freshmen will have to step up this season if we want to have success in the breaststroke event. Patricia comes in with great potential to have an impact early and Alexa has shown signs of her potential. It should be exciting watching them battle it out for spots in the breaststroke events this season. Mix in our upperclassmen and the breaststroke events will be deep but speed will be key for early-season success. The talent and foundation are there we just need to bring it out.”
Butterfly may be the biggest unknown this season for UND,
according to Parsons. The loss of
Caitlin Conci to graduation leaves a big void to fill. Looking to help fill that void will be juniors
Allie Maxwell and Jung along with a couple of freshmen in Teresa DiGregorio and
“Maxwell has been strong the past two seasons in the butterfly events,” said Parsons. “For us to have success early this year she will have to make her presence felt from day one.”
Look for the versatility of Medon to help the butterfly group this season as well.
“Expect Veronica to see some action in the 100 butterfly this season,” Parsons noted. “She posted the second fastest time last season in the 100 fly so, look for her to have some opportunities to swim that event some this season.”
Top newcomers DiGregorio and Smith will be looking to
challenge this season for the top spot in the 100 and 200 butterfly
events. DiGregorio comes in as one of
the flyers from the state of Minnesota while Smith is looking to transition to strengthen
the butterfly events.
“We are looking for Teresa to challenge for the top butterfly spot this season in both the 100 and 200 butterfly events,” said Parsons. “Smith comes into the season as maybe the least tested in the butterfly events. However, she has shown great promise early on and is expected to have an impact right away. She has been a pleasant surprise, she works hard and we see real potential with her swimming abilities. The butterfly is not our strongest stroke event on paper, but we may surprise some people this season with this group.”
UND will once again turn to veterans Medon and Merwin to
solidify the 200 IM and 400 IM events. Look
for junior Allie Maxwell to add additional depth in the 400 IM as well.
“Medon, Merwin, and Maxwell are all experienced and we expect them to challenge anyone we face this season in the IM events,” Parsons said of his returners. “Veronica has been consistently the top performer in the 200 IM and 400 IM and we will look for her to improve off of her 2011-12 season accomplishments. Merwin and Maxwell are a nice two- three combo in the 400 IM.”
Freshmen Quon and Tedjaskmana are expected to add depth and
even challenge for top spots in the 200 and 400 IM events.
“Quon comes in as one of the fastest 400 IM swimmers to step foot on the pool deck for UND,” Parsons bragged. “We have high expectations especially when it comes to the 400 IM. Tedjaskmana will add some much needed depth and she should have a positive impact in the 200 and 400 IM events this season.“
With the return of the duo of Rachael Waldbillig and
Jennifer Anklan– the UND female divers are
expected to have strong performances throughout the season. Waldbillig and Anklan will challenge one
another for the top spot in the one and three-meter diving events.
“Rachel will be fighting for the lead spot in terms of top diver on the women’s side,” UND head diving coach Brian Strom said. “I’m looking for her to do better at conference and a goal for her would be to qualify for NCAA postseason zones.
“I’m looking for big things out of Jen, too. Last year, we did a lot of things that were hard for her. But doing that work will payoff for her. She’ll be fighting for the top spot with Rachel. I’m just happy with her progress and as a sophomore, she’s only going to get better.”
As UND has proven year in and year out, it will be solid across all boards again this season. North Dakota adds a newcomer to help strengthen the depth of the women’s diving squad in Alexis Eissinger.
“As a freshman, her job is to survive,” Strom admitted. “She’s learning the 3-meter and platform and with the strength and conditioning programs, she’s already improved immensely. We’re looking for her to improve every day.”
UND officially begins its 2012-13 season with home meets each of the next two weekends. The team will play host to Nebraska and St. Cloud State for a pair of separate two-day duals beginning Friday at Hyslop pool.