Coming off an impressive 10 – 4 record this season, the Hillsdale College swimming team took sixth place at the GLIAC conference championship at Jenison Aquatics Center in Jenison, Michigan on Feb. 11 – 14.
On the first day of the meet, senior Rachael Kurtz started her final conference meet strong, placing third in the 100 Freestyle, hitting the national B‑cut qualifying standard with a time of 51.76. She also placed second overall in the 50 Freestyle with a time of 23.46.
Kurtz was crowned All-GLIAC in all three of her events: the 50 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle, and a part of the 400 Freestyle relay.
Kurtz is the only swimmer guaranteed to swim at the Division II National meet due to her high ranking B‑cut times. NCAA Division II Swimming Nationals are in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 11 – 14.
Junior Jennifer Wheeler placed tenth in the 1650 Freestyle, with fellow juniors Zoe Hopkins and Mikalah Smith not far behind placing 12th and 13th place respectively. Wheeler’s time was good enough for a third place spot on Hillsdale’s record board with a time of 17:47.32.
“It was quite a roller coaster. We had a few obstacles, but the team was always supportive and cheering, no matter the outcome of the races. By the last day everyone was pretty exhausted. I always forget how exhausting and mentally and physically demanding prelim-final meets are,” Hopkins said.
In the 200 Breaststroke, junior Sarah Rinaldi broke the school record with a time of 2:24.12 and finished fifth in the GLIAC.
The highlight of the Chargers’ conference championship was the 400 relay. Kurtz, Wheeler, sophomore Emily Shallman, and senior Jordan Rucinski took third place with their impressive swims.
“The relay was a great way to finish a four day meet,” head coach Kurt Kirner said.
Shallman left an impression on Kirner with a new team record in the 200 Freestyle: a time of 1:53.81, which earned her fifth place and is fast enough to hit the NCAA B‑cut qualifying standard.
“A personal highlight was making the championship final in the 200 free, I was seeded eighth for finals and ended up taking fifth with a personal best, NCAA B‑cut and a team record. I was not expecting that at all, so that was pretty cool,” Shallman said.
Sicknesses, injuries, and a lack of rest before GLIACs, however, hindered the Chargers from moving up in the rankings.
“A few swimmers just did not seem to be rested enough and that was my fault,” Kirner said. “I certainly have had some outstanding championships in my career and hate it when I have a handful whose taper does not seem to work. We also had some unfortunate sicknesses and injuries plague us the week before and during.”
In addition to one of the best records the team has had in years, the 2014 – 2015 Hillsdale Charger swim team added two new school records.
“We had some great moments by all during critical parts of our dual meets and they stood the test. Of course having a season record of 10 – 4 is a nice feather in their cap also,” Kirner said.
Although the season has ended and the women are waiting to hear if their B‑cut times qualify them for the National meet, four swimmers, senior Ali Bauer, juniors Alissa Jones and Zoe Hopkins, and freshman Theresa Smith will swim at the Ashland University Last Chance Meet on Saturday, Feb. 21 to hopefully boost their times.
“I just wanted to give it one last shot,” Bauer said.