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Zak Gosney and the UND swim teams open their 2012-13 season Friday at Hyslop pool.
Men's swim team opens season against familiar foe
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Updated: Friday 10/12/2012 13:39:52 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- The University of North Dakota swimming and diving teams get their 2012-13 season underway Friday with a home two-day dual against former North Central Conference rival St. Cloud State at Hyslop pool.

SEASON PREVIEW
The University of North Dakota men’s swimming and diving team comes into the 2012-13 season with 10 newcomers and with just three seniors, head coach Steve Parsons will count on his incoming freshmen to play a big role in the team’s success this season.

“George Philbin leads the senior class along with Zak Gosney and Preston Youngdahl,” Parsons said. “Those three seniors will have to show strong leadership skills as we navigate another tough dual meet season.”   

Last season, the North Dakota men finished the season with an NCAA “B” standard in the 800 free relay, as well as having All-Conference performances from Adam Gannon, Richard Eberle, and Andrew Germain. 

“We are looking to expand on the end of season success we had last year,” noted Parsons. “I feel we are capable of so much more and the challenge this season is to take another step forward. For us to be successful this season we will need to have everyone realize they have a role to play and step up into their roles. The freshman class has great potential and it should be interesting to see how they develop over the season.” 

Freestyle:

In the sprint freestyle events, UND has a lot of young faces looking to leave their mark.  The sprint group will be led by junior Ian McKenzie, who is the only returner in the sprint events.

“Ian is due for a breakout season and we will need him to step up his game,” said Parsons. “McKenzie will be looked to for leadership and experience in the splash and dash events.”

Returning to the team after a year away is Wesley Schultz, who Parsons will lean on to strengthen the sprint group. 

“Wes has the talent and he comes back with a renewed drive,” Parsons said. “I look for Wes to help out with holding the sprints this season.”  

McKenzie and Schultz will be joined by four freshmen this season: Colin McQuarrie, Jacob Fisher, Eric McCague, and Josh Riepl.  All four have shown promise throughout the early training season. 

“The freshman group has to perform if we are going to have any success in the sprint this year,” noted Parsons of his sprint rookies. “There is no way around the fact that we are young but there is a good amount of talent in that group, too.” 

Gannon and Philbin will also see some time in the sprint events this season, too. Parsons believes that the duo is capable of winning events anytime they step on the blocks. Philbin and Gannon will also have a strong presence in the 200 freestyle event this season, according to their coach. 

“Philbin and Gannon have been a force in the 200 freestyle since their freshman year,” Parsons said. “Look for that to continue this season.” 

Philbin and Gannon will be joined again by Zach Stettner, who is coming off a solid campaign as a frosh.

“Stettner had a nice freshman season, I feel like he has a lot more to give and I am expecting big things from him this season,” said Parsons.

Adding depth and talent to an already strong group will be newcomers Aaron Chanas-LaRue, Michael Wegerson, Eric McCague and Matthew Koken. Coach Parsons is excited for their potential.

“This is probably the deepest and most competitive group of mid-distance freestylers we have had in a while,” said Parsons. “All of these guys have great range from the 50 freestyle up to the 500 freestyle. Look for this group to lead the way for the men’s team this season.” 

In the distance events, North Dakotaa will be led by Philbin and Gosney.  Also, joining that group will be Stettner and fellow sophomore Ethan Shrader. The latter was recruited as a backstroker but showed great potential last season in the 1000. Also joining the group is newcomer Chanas-LaRue. 

“Chanas-LaRue is a great talent, he has great range and we expect him to be a force this season in the freestyle events,” Parsons said. “The distance group will need to have success in the 1650 and 1000 more so than in years past for the team to have success this season.  We have been strong in the 500 freestyle and down through the 50 freestyle.  I expect this group to be much better with the additions.” 

Backstroke:

Shrader and Youngdahl come into the 2012-13 season expected to lead in the backstroke events.

“Shrader has shown a great deal of improvement over the summer, we are looking for him to have a breakout season,” said Parsons. “Youngdahl will be looking to have a senior year to remember after a summer of good training. He will be expected to step up this season if we are going to have success in the backstroke events this season.”   

Joining that pair will be juniors Gannon and Ian McKenzie along with freshman Michael Wegerson. 

“I expect our backstrokers to come out strong this season,” Parsons said. “We come in with talent in these events, but we lack depth, so our backstrokers will have to step up their game.” 

Breaststroke:

Breaststroke is one of the deepest strokes for this year, according to their coach.  Leading the way will be Gannon and Austin Smith, both of whom draw praise from Parsons.

“Gannon is coming off a great sophomore year in which he posted the second fastest time in UND history in the 100 breaststroke,” Parsons said. “But both of these guys will need to have another strong season in the breaststroke events if the UND men are expected to have success in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Smith showed he’s going to be a force to deal with in the breaststroke events for the next three years.” 

Three underclassmen join the pair: sophomores Wesley Schultz and MacIan Campbell, along with freshman Ian Ballantyne. 

“Wes is looking pretty good coming into this season, I expect him to factor into our success we have in the breaststroke events throughout the season,” Parsons said. “Ballantyne was the top breaststroker in the state of North Dakota last season as a high school senior.  He comes into this season expected to make his presence felt early and often. Ian has shown great potential and I would not be surprised if he challenges Gannon and Smith to become the top breaststroker this season. It should be fun watching these guys battle all season and they will need to be on top of their game every weekend they take to the pool.” 

Butterfly:

The biggest unknown this season may be the butterfly events, where Parsons expects newcomers to factor into the mix.

“This group has a strong core but to be successful this season we will need several freshmen to step up and have an impact,” Parsons admitted. “Expect Dan Jacobson to once again lead the way in the 200 butterfly, while Gannon, Smith, and McKenzie will be leading the way in the 100 butterfly as our returners.” 

Sophomore Austin Smith and freshmen Tim O’Brien, Matthew Koken and Eric McCague will be expected to contribute right away. 

“Our freshmen are talented and will need to show that talent early and often,” said Parsons. “O’Brien comes in as one of the fastest butterflyers in Minnesota a year ago. He has great potential and he works his butt off every day in practice. Look for him to compete for the top butterfly position this season. Koken may surprise some people this season, he has looked really good in the early season workouts. McCague will need to find his place in the group and is expected to show both his speed and endurance in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.

“Butterfly has the potential be a strong event for us this season but the freshman group will have to perform well for the UND swim team.”   

Individual Medley:

The University of North Dakota will once again look to returners Gannon, Smith, Shrader, Schultz and Campbell to solidify the 200 IM and 400 IM events.  Look for Gannon to lead the way in the 200 IM and 400 IM.  Shrader should add additional depth in the 400 IM event, while Smith and Schultz will add depth to the 200 IM. 

“Our upperclassmen will have to lead the way in the IM events,” Parsons noted. “Campbell is coming off a great freshman year. We are looking for him to pick up where he left off last season. He will add much needed depth to the 400 IM event this season.” 

Ballantyne, a freshman, will also have an impact in the 200 IM event.  |

“Ian has potential, with four really solid strokes,” said Parsons.  “He will have to step up if UND is to be successful in the short IM event.”    

Diving:

With the return of the duo of Richard Eberle and Andrew Germain–  the UND male divers are expected to have strong performances all season. Head diving coach Brian Strom is excited to see what the season will bring for the talented pair.

“Eberle has qualified for zones each of the past two years but couldn’t go because of the transition,” Strom said. “We’re looking for him to not just qualify but compete to potentially go to nationals. His best board is 3-meter and getting into the elite national field is impressive and takes a lot of talent.

“Last year, Andrew gave Rick a run for his money, there isn’t much fall off there. I think he can qualify for zones after he just missed last year. His strength is the 1-meter event, so we’re solid on both boards.”

A newcomer, Clayton Metcalf, already has experience in the higher events, including platform. He was a junior Olympic diver from the platform prior to coming to UND.

“I’m very happy with his transition from high school and club diving,” Strom said. “His strength is platform and if things go right he could qualify for zones also. He’s just improving every day.”

UND officially begins its season this weekend when it hosts former NCC rival St. Cloud State for a two-day dual.

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