The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have concluded their regular seasons at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championship.
This year, the men’s team claimed its 16th straight WIAC title, while the women’s team placed third overall at the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer.
The men’s team finished in the top spot with 920 points, more than 220 points ahead of UW-La Crosse (697 points) and UW-Whitewater, which rounded out the top three teams with 693 points.
The Pointers captured their 19th WIAC championship win in program history with the help of 11 event titles over the three-day meet.
Sam Jekel, a Pointer sophomore, was a multiple event championship winner and came home with three gold medals in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly and 50-yard freestyle.
Evan Catani, a sophomore, won two titles in the 1,650-yard freestyle and 400-yard individual medley, despite starting his season with an injury.
“I had a shoulder impingement at the very start of the season,” Catani said. “I did my absolute best to rehab it and let it recover so I could compete.”
Catani said he had an excellent meet, but said in the end it is not a single athlete who wins a conference title.
“Personally I think I had a phenomenal meet given all of the sacrifices I had to make with my shoulder. I’m happy to see my hard work pay off, but it’s not just about one swimmer,” Catani said.
He credited the team’s determination in practice as a key attribute to winning the WIAC title.
“When you’re a part of a team that puts in endless amounts of effort in practices,” he said, “Then you see it pay off in the end with a championship title. There are really no words to describe how amazing it feels.”
Joe Hollman, a junior, placed first in the 200-yard breaststroke as well as the 200-yard individual medley.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Jekel, sophomore Andrew King, junior Kyle McNair and senior Hans Peters captured the championship title in 3:02.30.
On the women’s side, the Pointers placed third behind second place UW-Whitewater (750 points). UW-La Crosse repeated its winning ways with a fourth successive team-conference title and 826 total points.
Amanda Walker, a senior, was named swimmer of the meet, with four event titles won. She defended her 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle titles and helped her teammates win two relay titles.
Juniors Gemma Pillsbury, Alexa Pronga, Emily Nenhaus and Walker were champions in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:29.24.
Sean Cloghessy, a sophomore diver, was the top performer of both diving teams. He completed his conference meet with a pair of fourth place finishes on the one-meter and three-meter competition with 397.40 and 368.00 points, respectively.
“Taking fourth place in both the one meter and three meter diving was definitely a great feeling and a big improvement from last year,” Cloghessy said. “I trained hard this year to clean up my dives,and I think it all paid off at conference.”
Cloghessy said it was great to help the Pointers win their 16th WIAC title.
“Winning conference was an amazing feeling, especially with this team,” he said. “Stevens Point has been defending this title for 16 years now, so it feels great to help continue the streak.”
Head diving coach Sara Schierl said her group of divers this year has been “one of the hardest working groups” she has worked with.
She said Cloghessy improved since last season.
“He is a great competitor when it comes to big meets,” Schierl said. “He has really come a long way since last year.”
Overall, she said she was happy with the team’s performance and is excited for next next season.
“I could not be more proud of this team and their efforts,” she said. “I am looking forward to building a bigger team next year and continuing the success of what we experienced this year.”