Kansas seniors hopeful for successful final season opener
|Meet Event Order|
|Friday, Oct. 21 (5 p.m.)|
|200-yard Medley Relay|
|*1-Meter Diving (Women)|
|*3-Meter Diving (Men)|
|200-yard Individual Medley|
|800-yard Freestyle Relay|
|Saturday, Oct. 22 (Noon)|
|200-yard Freestyle Relay|
|400-yard Individual Medley|
|*3-Meter Diving (Women)|
|*1-Meter Diving (Men)|
|400-yard Freestyle Relay|
|*concurrent with swimming events|
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Hannah Angell has tried to erase her first-ever collegiate season-opening swim from her memory bank, but Leah Pfitzer brought it all back with two words while the pair of seniors reminisced in Robinson Natatorium earlier this week.
“Air Force,” Pfitzer piped while Angell struggled to remember through four years of collegiate swimming.
“Oh. Yeah,” Angell grumbled. “My first dual meet experience I felt like I was breathing through a straw because we were up in the mountains at altitude. I was doing the 200-yard backstroke and I remember the first 50 I pushed off and my body felt so heavy, there was no oxygen. So, yeah, it was a little rough. We’re in our home pool (this weekend). It’ll be a better experience.”
There have been many, much more happy memories since that narrow, 154-146, loss to open the 2013-14 campaign, and a nine-member senior class looks to create a few more as a new season starts with a two-day double dual against Missouri State and North Dakota in Robinson Natatorium Friday and Saturday. Kansas will host both the men’s and women’s teams at home this weekend, with Friday’s competition beginning at 5 p.m. and Saturday’s at noon.
On the first day, Kansas will wear pink caps in conjunction with the athletic department’s Jayhawks for a Cure initiative and on Saturday the senior class will be recognized prior to the start of competition.
Kansas will take on the Bears and the Fighting Hawks in a double dual on the women’s side, while the men’s squads for Missouri State and North Dakota will face off against each other. Most of the 19 total events will include two heats of women and one heat of men. Each athlete is eligible to compete in six races, three per day, throughout the duration of the competition.
“We’re ready to swim against other people and see what we’ve got right now,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “And all indications point to really good beginnings of a team.
“Both opponents are tough teams. Missouri State did a shootout format meet a couple weeks ago and had several teams in town and tied Houston for the win. It was a big meet for them and their top-end talent is really solid. Same with North Dakota, they had kind of a rivalry meet with South Dakota and swam great. We’ve got to bring our A-game for both Friday and Saturday, because if we don’t, I don’t think we can win. We’ve got to go and compete with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and start the season off well.”
Part of the yet-to-be-completed legacy of this year’s senior class was registering the program’s most points in Big 12 history in finishing second at last year’s Big 12 Championships. This year’s deep squad is laden with veteran leadership while mixing in a talented freshman class of seven that will be hoping to make a more favorable regular season collegiate debut.
“It’s always exciting, the first meet of the season, going out there and racing different people that aren’t your teammates,” Angell, one of nine seniors along with Graylyn Jones, Yulduz Kuchkarova, Lindsay Manning, Amanda Maser, Pia Pavlic, Pfitzer, Gretchen Pocisk and Sammie Schurig, said. “We’ve been swimming with each other for weeks now and competing against each other to get better. Now that we’re given the opportunity to race someone else, new faces, it’s fun. I’m looking forward to that.
“Seeing the freshmen race against other teams and have their first dual meet experience will be awesome. I have a ton of confidence in this team this year and think we can be one of the best the program has ever had.”
All home competitions in Robinson Natatorium are free and open to the public, but donations to Jayhawks for a Cure, supporting Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the KU Cancer Center, are encouraged this weekend. Due to the 11 a.m. kickoff for football and concurrent competition, swimming attendees are encouraged to park in Lot 90 south of the Robinson Center.
“It’s hugely important to continue to support Jayhawks for a Cure,” Campbell said regarding Friday’s designation. “One of our alumni was diagnosed with leukemia this year, so this year’s cancer awareness meet is going to hold a special place in my heart for a young lady who is battling right now. We’ve all been touched in one way or another and hopefully raising awareness and raising funds, we’re going to find a cure.”
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.