Women's Swim/Dive Gets Four Gold-Medal Performances at MIAA Championships

by Eva Dean Folkert

With three individual titles and one relay win on Friday night at the Holland Aquatic Center, the Hope College women's swimming and diving team showed some of its own depth and now trail leader Calvin College by only 37 points at the 2019 MIAA Championships at the Holland Aquatic Center. 

Emma Schaefer swims the IM The third day of league competition also saw the Flying Dutch achieve two national B-cuts for the NCAA Division III championship meet in March and establish one school record.

Hope retained its second-place position in the meet with 524 total points, moving closer to Calvin College which is in first place with 561 points. Albion College is third with 445, Kalamazoo fourth with 301, Alma College fifth with 160, and Olivet College has 126.

The night's competition started with a thrilling 200 medley relay victory for the Flying Dutch team of junior Allison Eppinga of Saline (Saline HS), sophomore Emma Schaefer of DeWitt (Saint Johns HS), senior Betsy Craig of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS) and sophomore Meg Peel of Spring Lake (Spring Lake HS). By touching the wall in 1:44.61, the quartet finished just .01 seconds faster than the second-place Calvin relay team. They also earned a national B-cut time and established a new school record, besting the 1:45.35 time set just last year by Peel, junior Paula Nolte, Chloe Palajac '18, senior Sydney Asselin.

Betsy Craig swims the butterfly. Schaefer, pictured top, got little rest to then continue the Hope victory string in the next women's event with a win in the 400 individual medley, clocking in at 4:32.53. It was Schaefer's second career MIAA title in the event. Later in the evening, she also claimed second place in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:06.06.

Also, in the 400 individual medley, junior Erin Emmert of Grand Blanc, Michigan (Powers Catholic) was third (4:37.15) while sophomore Hope Reynolds of Exon, Pennsylvania (Vila Maria Academy) was fourth (4:42.26).

Next on the top spot of the awards podium with a 100 butterfly title was Craig, pictured middle, with a time of 57.32.  The win was the senior's first career MIAA victory.

Lastly, Peel, pictured bottom, defended her 2018 MIAA title in the 100 backstroke, this year winning that event in 56.23. The sophomore also recorded a national B-cut qualifying time in the race.

Meg Peel swims the backstroke. "You look around at the environment tonight, and I think our women is just fed off it," said co-head coach Jake Taber. "This place was electric. It was just fun to be a part of. To open the session with a school record time in the 200 medley relay and to win by .01 of a second, it doesn't get closer, it just doesn't get more exciting than that. And really I think that that gave us a lot of momentum. Overall just a great night."

Other finals heat finishers on Friday were:

  • Senior Abigail Brinks of Commerce Township, Michigan (Walled Lake Northern HS) who took fourth (1:55.68) and Asselin of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) who finished seventh (1:55.98), respectively, in the 200 freestyle.
  • Nolte of Elmhurst, Illinois (York Community HS) claimed fourth place (1:06.89) while freshman Aubrey East of Farmington Hills (North Farmington) finished fifth (1:07.93) in the 100 breaststroke; and,
  • Eppinga and Reynolds raced in at fifth (57.69) and sixth (59.54), respectively, in the 100 backstroke.

Photos by Lynne Powe

Friday consolation heat finishers were:

  • Freshman Abigail LaDuke of Holland (West Ottawa HS), freshman Paige Kuhn of Dorr (Hamilton HS) and sophomore Mackenzie Ralston of Norton Shores (Mona Shores HS) who finished 10th (4:52.26), 14th (4:57.69), and 15th (5:01.31), respectively, in the 400 individual medley;
  • Senior Sara Hudson of Novi (Walled Lake Western) who claimed 12th (1:00.39) in the 100 butterfly;
  • Junior Alison Sobkowski of Portage, Indiana (Portage HS) who clocked in with 1:59.76 to take 15th in the 200 freestyle; and,
  • Junior Erica Slenk of Zeeland (Holland Christian) and freshman Alyssa Potyraj of Grandville (Grandville HS) who finished 11th (1:09.85) and 12th (1:09.89), respectively, in the 100 breaststroke.

The 2019 MIAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships conclude at the Holland Aquatic Center Saturday with prelims at 10:00 a.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.