Ball State swimming and diving starts new year with tri-meet challenge
After a month off from competition, the Ball State men’s swim and dive start the spring semester with a tri-meet against IUPUI, Xavier and the University of Indianapolis.
It will be the first time the men’s team faces the Greyhounds this season. Head swimming coach Bob Thomas said this meet is a great test to see his athletes step up.
“They’re swimming in the Natatorium, which is probably one of the best facilities in the country, if not the world,” Thomas said. “Just to have that opportunity is just incredible. And it brings out the best of them.”
In the past four seasons at this meet, the Cardinals have not won this meet. Last season, the Cardinals lost to both the Jaguars and Musketeers.
“We’re going to go in and do the best we can at this point of our training,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have the strength like the other teams have, but that’s really not a deterrent. I think our guys will be ready to compete and do well.”
For the Cardinals, they come into this meet after finish in second place in the Eastern Michigan Invite. But what about the other three teams that are at this meet?
THE OTHER TEAMS SEASON TO THIS POINT
The Jaguars come into this meet with a 2-3 overall record. One of the meets that stood out in the first half was the House of Champions Invitational.
At the November event, the Jaguars placed third out of 14 teams. Freshman Mark Auger swam a season-best time of 1:48.43 in the 200-yard butterfly.
Also at this meet, the Greyhounds finished in second place. After starting the season off with two loses to IUPUI and Cincinnati, the Greyhounds come into this meet with a 2-2 overall record.
One of athletes to look out for from University of Indianapolis is junior Rodrigo Codo Berti in the 200-yard backstroke. Berti comes into this meet with a team-best time of 1:44.48, ten seconds faster than freshman Spencer Ball’s time (1:54.20).
The Musketeers come into this meet with a 3-3 overall record. At the Cleveland State Magnus Cup in November, the Musketeers finished in second place out of 10 teams.
Those are the events and athletes to watch for in this meet, on the swimming side, from the other teams.
Cardinals to watch for
Over break, Ball has been focusing on his underwaters and staying powerful. One of the workouts that have been beneficial to him were the lactate sets. During these sets, Ball said he usually holds around 26-27 seconds on each 50.
“I would say on our lactate sets just pushing each 50, when we break them up,” Ball said. “Keeping each 50 the same intensity as the last one and pushing myself.”
At this meet, both divers and swimmers will be at the iconic IUPUI Natatorium. Ball said he loves swimming at the Natatorium.
“I have swum there multiple times, since I was seven-years old,” Ball said. “The Nat is like home and it’s a great pool. I know people on all those teams so it will be good to see them.”
Like Ball, sophomore Adam Pongracz will be returning to a pool that he swam at before swimming for Ball State. For Pongracz, he has been focusing on his race strategy for the 200-yard butterfly. When asked about the competition, especially Auger, Pongracz said he’s only focused on himself.
“I’m just going to take it like every other race and if they get season bests, they get season bests,” Pongracz said. “I’m just going to focus on me trying to swim my race and not letting their results dictate how I feel like I swim.”
Another Cardinal to watch is junior Cullen Tyler, who had a season-best time in the 200-yard breaststroke at the EMU Invite.
A Cardinal with a streak
Coming into this meet, Tyler carries over a one meet winning-steak in the 200-yard breaststroke. This comes after he won the event at the EMU Invite. Tyler said during this break he has been pushing himself and making sure he holds the right times.
“I’m just going to push each 50 every time I swim it,” Tyler said. “I hope that I can come out on top and give a race to every single guy that I’m with.”
When asked about Tyler’s streak in the breastroke events, Thomas said it’s hard to predict him winning the event.
“Right now, you go in and do the best you can,” Thomas said. “You can’t predict winning. It’s obvious it’s a good goal to have, but no. That’s why we race to find out who's the best that night.”
Aside from the swimmers, the divers have had some success over break.
Diving into a tri-meet
After missing the first part of break to be with the women’s team, head diving coach Nick Gayes said his divers have made some progress.
“Tuesday was the first really good water practice we have had,” Gayes said. “ Sean is back in the water now, which is good. I think we’re going kind of round into shape here for the next three-four weeks for the guys. (These weeks) are going to be pretty telling on how we set ourselves up for that last little run.”
For both junior Gabe Dean and freshman Trey Mathesis, it would have been a month since their last meet. But for freshman Sean Wolfe, a little longer. Wolfe didn’t dive at the EMU Invite, due to a ruptured eardrum. At this meet, Gayes said he is looking for his divers to be more consistent with their dives.
“If we can get on our head six times in a list, we’re going to be in decent shape,” Gayes said. “If you don’t land on your head, you’re not going to be in the mix. Consistency is going to be the biggest thing for us.”
For the diving events, two divers from University of Indianapolis are the ones to watch for. Sophomore Josh Zylstra scored 499.55 points at the Delta State Diving Invitational and sophomore Payton Stamen scored 469.00 points. Gayes said it’s always good to face good competition.
“I think it puts a little bit more pressure on you and they’re going to have some good competition at the end of the season,” Gayes said. “You need to face good competition to be ready to face some good competition. I don’t think it benefits you to just go beat up on less talented divers all the time.”
Over break, Mathesis went and trained with his high school team in Jasper, Indiana
“It was a little difficult, cause I couldn’t really trained much three-meter,” Mathesis said. “But I trained a lot of one-meter and got a lot of good stuff done there with my high school coach. It was nice to get back to where it all started.”
Mathesis comes into this meet with season-best of 172.35 points against Grand Valley State. Mathesis said he has been working on his back two-and-a half and inward two-and-a half during break.
The meet is slated to start at 6 p.m. at the IUPUI Natatorium on Jan. 5.