Winter sports set sights on success

 

As the Ohio days grow colder heading into winter, the swimming and diving and basketball teams are preparing to begin their playing seasons.

Swimming and Diving

Both men and women’s swimming are very excited to enter the 2013-2014 season, especially after last year’s success.

Recently capturing two victories out of three swimming meets for the young season, the men’s swimming team has continued on the successful foundation that they established last winter.

Pioneer men’s swimming team recently won two out of three contests in the young 2013-14 season. The team hopes to continue its success throughout its first eligible year in NCAA Division II. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

First year head coach Devin Murphy has transitioned in smoothly and can already see the potential for this year’s team.

“We would like to move up in conference placement on the men and women’s side,” Murphy said. “I really see that happening on the men’s side, but it will be difficult for the women due to Marta’s injury.”

Sophomore swimmer Marta Jankowska, the lead swimmer for the women’s team, suffered a season-ending injury that will force teammates to step up to fill her void.

The women’s team will look towards freshman swimmers Charis Parker, Olivia Bently and sophomore Stephanie Brookens to help carry the team through the season in light of Jankowska’s injury.

The men will be expecting big contributions from sophomores Bartosz Zarzecki, Tim Collet, and Hector Gonzalez.

“I expect those three to qualify for nationals,” Murphy said.

The Pioneers look to finish near the top of the conference on both sides.

“I think we are going to be right in the middle of it all,” Murphy said. “We might not be at the very top, but we are definitely nowhere near the bottom of the competition.”

Many athletes take an off-season, but as for the swimming team, swimming year round is strongly recommended to stay on top.

“Swimming is one of those unforgiving sports,” Murphy said. “If you take off a couple of weeks, you completely fall out of shape.”

Although staying in the pool is essential for training, the Pioneers also headed towards the weight room to add an edge against competition.

“We worked really hard in the weight room and it’s going to pay off big time when it comes time to rest for conference,” Murphy said.

Men’s Basketball

After last year’s 14-12(overall) record and 11-11(GLIAC) record, the men’s basketball team knows what it will take to compete on their quest for the GLIAC championship.

[pullquote]“We know what to expect this year and we know we just have to bring it every night,” senior guard Che Richardson said. “If we do that then Malone will have another GLIAC champ.”[/pullquote]

The Pioneers have the core of their team returning from last year and expect to finish in the top three in the GLIAC south in order to make the tournament.

Head coach Tim Walker said, “We got a lot of guys coming back, so we have some pretty high expectations going into the year.”

The team will lean heavily on senior captains Richardson, Isiah Elliot and Cory Veldhuizen to show leadership and carry the team to the tournament this year.

Also, sophomores Christian Graves and Stephen O’Daniel III are expected to have big years from game experience from last year’s season.

“Our guys had a really good summer and worked really hard,” Walker said. “Isiah rehabbed and got healthy which is a big deal coming off his injury.”

Walker also commented on how being eligible this year changed the team’s mindset.

“It brings more meaning to some of these conference games,” Walker said. “There’s a little extra added excitement to what we are doing here.”

Richardson also shared his thoughts on the team’s first eligible year in the GLIAC.

“I think this year we have a real good chance to not only compete well in the GLIAC, but I think we can win it,” Richardson said.

Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team posted a 14-12(overall) record and finished with a 10-12(GLIAC) record last year, and is entering this season with a winner’s mentality.

“Expectations are always tricky, but we like to expect to win,” head coach Jason Mishler said. “We expect to win and compete as hard as we can.”

The Pioneers have key returners who performed well last season and look to continue their success.

Sydnee Penn had a really good off-season, Selana Reale, Logan Pastor and Debbie Simmers,” Mishler said. “Those are players we count on to be as good as there is on the floor.”

Mishler points to his bench and role players to be an integral part of the team.

“We got a lot of kids that are going to have opportunities,” Mishler said. “I feel like that is the strength of our team.”

Penn also has high hopes for growth this season.

“In the preseason we focused on being competitors and just another team in the GLIAC,” Penn said. “Not only getting stronger physically, but mentally as well.”

Along with working hard over the off-season, the Pioneers took part in some team bonding trips that they hope will contribute to the season’s success.

“We have gotten together as a team a number of times,” Mishler said. “Over fall break we all went down to Ho;mes County and basically had like a mini-camp with two-a-days and did some fun stuff together.”

The GLIAC is a meritable league in NCAA Division II, but the Pioneers know that when a new season comes along, it is a clean slate to push ahead.

“Every team starts off 0-0,” Penn said. “The way we compete in practice and games will determine our team’s success.”

 

 Tim Woods and Justin Davis are sports writers for The Aviso AVW.

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