Illness engulfs team going into meet

-á-á-á-á Revenge is sweet. But for the men's swimming and diving team, it is a taste that may elude them this weekend due to a rash of illnesses. The Cardinals will travel to Oxford, Ohio on Saturday to face Mid-American Conference rivals Miami and Northern Illinois. Whether they will do so at full strength remains to be seen.

-á-á-á-á "I've never had so many sick guys at once in my 22 years here," coach Bob Thomas said. "That (sickness) is a possible sign of overtraining and hopefully we caught it in time, and the guys will have an opportunity to rest up."

-á-á-á-á The Cardinals will need the rest to come away with victories in Oxford. Miami was the MAC runner-up last season and returns several key members from that team. Seniors John Carroll and Eric DiSalle accounted for five individual conference championships and senior diver Dylan Nichols was named MAC Diver of the Year. Four more returning RedHawks garnered all-conference honors last season.

-á-á-á-á "Miami has a lot of team depth which is their strong point," Thomas said. "They may not win an event here or there but they'll go 2-3-4 on you."

-á-á-á-á The Northern Illinois Huskies were perhaps the Cardinals closest rivals last season. The two teams traded punches throughout the MAC meet, with Ball State finally passing the Huskies on the final night to claim fourth place. The Huskies are led by senior sprinter Dario Fuentes and talented newcomer Anders Schonek, who has already posted times on par with the returning Husky star.

-á-á-á-á "We are very close with them, and we're two very comparable teams," Thomas said.

-á-á-á-á Despite the sickness that has plagued his team as well as the daunting odds this weekend, Thomas is confident that the Cardinals will be ready to race.

-á-á-á-á "These are big rivalries for us and we've always competed well against these teams," Thomas said. "The true competitors will show up Saturday."


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