Oct. 9, 2000
By Anne Miller Asst. Sports Information DirectorThe NC State Game Program – October 7, 2000
With 25 returning swimmers and 14 new freshmen, the women’s swimming and diving team is poised for another outstanding year in which they will challenge for the ACC Championship. The Tigers finished with a record of 8-3 overall and 1-2 in the ACC before finishing third at the ACC Championships last year.
Head coach Bruce Marchionda, along with assistants Kathleen Milloy and Jim McGinnis as well as diving coach Leslie Hasselbach, is very excited about this squad’s blend of leadership from the experienced upperclassmen and excitement from the incoming freshmen.
“We have a strong group of returnees and from top to bottom this is collectively the most talented freshman class we have had here in the last six years. They should contribute immediately and help move the program forward on a national level.”
Free Style The sprint freestyle events will be very competitive this year as there are several seasoned veterans who will help the freshmen develop. The strong core of returnees will be led by sophomore Jenna Burtch who was an ACC finalist in the 50 and 100 free and recorded a season-best time of 23.20 at the ACC time trials. Senior Leslie Anderson developed her sprint last year and is expected to be a solid contender while junior Patti Hider continues to improve on her personal best of 24.13. Junior Caroline Peterson and sophomore Elise Thieler round out the list of returnees. Marchionda predicts four rookies will challenge the upperclassmen – Lindsey Kroeger (Cincinnati, OH), Valerie Langley (The Woodlands, TX), Courtney Humes (Easton, PA), and Lisa Vilas (Greenville, SC).
The middle distance events will be led by a nucleus of four returners who should continue their dominance in this event. Sophomore Catherine Blaney will lead the group of returners along with sophomores Liz Dwors and Erin Heitz, and senior Charli Reasons. Newcomers Kensey Morris (Elliott City, MD) and Allison Gjervold (Plano, TX) will challenge the veterans.
In the distance events, Dwors, who set a personal best time of 4:51.83 in the 500 at the ACC Championships, and Blaney will lead the Tigers while junior Emily Hustead may continue to add depth in the event. Freshmen Kim Cober (Greensboro, NC) and Allison Gjervold will challenge the returnees for the top spots.
Butterfly The butterfly events might be the most challenging for the Tigers this year as they lost several of their specialists to graduation, including Erin Cumbie who led the Tigers in the 200 last season as well as Kendra Kelly. Four returning swimmers and a rookie must step up and fill the void left by the departed seniors. Sophomores Meghan Clifford, Emily Hustead and freshman Meghan Murphy (Lawrenceville, GA) will be challenged in a very strong butterfly conference.
Breaststroke “The breaststroke should be a very strong event for the Tigers in dual meets as well as the conference championships much as it was last year,” said Marchionda. There are five returners and two freshmen who will make a major contribution in the event for Clemson. Sophomore Mandy Commons, an NCAA qualifier last year, will compete in the 100 and 200 for the Tigers. Commons set Clemson’s all-time record in the 100 with a time of 1:03.09 at the ACC Championships in 2000.
Leslie Anderson is a 100 specialist while sophomore Courtney Ellis is a specialist in the 200. Both Eillis and Anderson have posted times in the top ten on Clemson’s all-time best list. Sophomore Sarah Keyes and senior Lauren Rafferty will add depth along with freshmen Katie Brown (Rockville, MD) and Caitlin Bissell (Virginia Beach, VA).
Backstroke Five returning specialists will be challenged by three newcomers in the backstroke events. Seniors Charli Reasons and Lauren Rafferty along with sophomore Krystal Ball, will lead the Tigers. Reasons and Rafferty both have times in the top ten all-time in the 100 and 200 while Ball is tenth in the 100. Sophomore Mary Brewer and junior Nina Douglas along with incoming freshmen Lindsey Kroeger, Elizabeth Noll (Birmingham, AL), and Kate Walker (Woodbine, MD) will add to the competitive atmosphere in the backstroke events.
Individual Medley The individual medley was one of the strongest events for the Tigers last year. Clemson returns All-American junior Ginny Kirouac in the 200 and 400 IM as well as Rafferty who made major contributions in the 200 IM last year. Kirouac is fourth all-time in the 200 with a time of 2:03.57 and second all-time in the 400 (4:16.03) while Rafferty is seventh with a personal best time of 2:04.90 in the 200. Courtney Ellis will continue to be a major force in both the 200 and 400 IM while freshmen Katie Brown, Allison Gjervold and Morgan Perry (Jacksonville, FL) will challenge the returnees.
Relay “The Tigers will have a tremendous amount of depth in the relay events. We have 36 swimmers who all have the opportunity to contribute and work their way up to the conference team,” said Marchionda. “We need the relay teams to be strong this year as their scores will be important if we expect to challenge for the ACC title.”
The sprint freestyle relay will be strong with the return of Thieler, Peterson, Anderson, Burtch and Hider. Newcomers Humes and Langley should challenge for spots on the 200 and 400 teams. Blaney, Reasons, and Heitz return to the 400 team, while the 800 freestyle team is up for grabs. Blaney, Dwors, Reasons, Gjervold, Langley, Walker and Morris will be in the mix for the 800 as well as Kirouac, Hider and Heitz.
Schedule The women’s schedule is relatively similar to the men’s in that the women will be facing several nationally respected programs such as Penn State, Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama.
“The team will be challenged in dual meets but should be able to step up and meet the challenge from the home opener with Virginia Tech to the ACC Championships. We have proven we can compete with almost anyone in the country and it is time to build on that,” said Marchionda.
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