James Tananan Kamnuedkhun
For the first time in program history, the women’s swimming and diving team finished first in the GLVC Championship.
“Thinking about winning it was not something that we necessarily expect every year,” head coach Jason Owen said. “It’s something we want to do and definitely strive for, so to be able to do it this year was pretty special.”
The women’s team led the way with a total and final score of 1,781. It was a successful week on the men’s side as well, who tallied a third place finish with 1,393 points.
Across the four days, several athletes stood out with strong performances. On the opening day of the competition, junior Elle Christie won the 1 Meter Dive with 32 points, and freshman Matheo Mateos-Mongelos finished first in the 200 Yard IM.
“We had good results on Day 1, but they weren’t by any means perfect,” Owen said. “That’s always a factor in a four-day competition, how well people respond and adapt.”
Day 2 saw sophomore Beata Maruszczyk take home the gold medal in the 200 Yard Freestyle for the women’s team, as well as senior Lexie Winnett getting the silver medal in the 100 Yard Butterfly. The men’s team had freshman Elliott Irwin win silver in his 100 Yard Butterfly, putting up a time of 48.13.
Maruszczyk won another gold medal on Day 3, giving her two in three days.
“She’s gone to even another level and we could’ve used her in relays we didn’t even use her on because every athlete has a limit to how many races they can do,” Owen said. “Her impact is huge and you can’t understate that at all.”
She won her third gold on the final day of the Championship with a time of 2:13.72 in the 200 Yard Breastroke. Lindenwood earned a silver medal in the women’s 400 Yard Freestyle Relay, led by Winnett, Stephanie Marks, McKayla Siemiller, and Kirsten Votava.
For the men, junior Jan Hanzal wrapped up the week with a silver in the 1650 Yard Freestyle. Senior Jerry Brown also finished second in the 200 Yard Breastroke on the final day of the competition.
Christie was awarded women’s co-diver of the year at the conclusion of the GLVC Championship. Mateos-Mongelos and Lillie Schafer both received GLVC James R. Spalding Sportsmanship awards, and coach Owen was named the men and women’s head coach of the year.
“Personally, it [winning coach of the year] does mean a lot because I really respect the people in the conference,” Owen said. “But it is credit to the athletes, and that’s a team award.”
Up next are nationals, which will run from March 17-20 in Birmingham, Alabama. According to Owen, Lindenwood will have 12-13 athletes to get invited based on their times, and five of their seven divers. There will also be a last chance qualifier in a couple weeks as a last attempt to post times.
Despite the potential large number of Lions, Owens expects it to be stiffer than usual to make it to nationals.
“It’s the hardest year it’s ever been to qualify,” Owen said. “Everyone asks, ‘can you win nationals?’ and with a year like this you just don’t know. Anybody that can win the GLVC has the potential to do something at the national level.”