|Senior Alison Hsu, a key NCAC scorer, was one of five Scots who missed part of last season due to studying abroad.|
The College of Wooster women's swimming and diving team turned in some breakthrough performances at the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Championships, and now 17th-year head coach Rob Harrington is hoping for some of that success to translate into national qualifiers this year.
"This could be an exciting year for the team," said Harrington. "While we graduated a talented senior class, many of our conference scorers from previous years were juniors who were abroad (for part of) last season. Their impact at the season's onset will allow us to fill the loss of our graduates. Much of the depth of our program comes from our sophomore and junior classes, while our first-years swim a wide variety of events and will look to make an impact immediately."
Sophomore Molly Likins, who recently won two silver medals and set four USA deaf records at the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Brazil, headlines the Scots' team. As a rookie, Likins helped both medley relays earn all-conference honors, and Wooster's 200-yard one was on the cusp of the NCAA Div. III "B" cut time. Individually, Likins did log a "B" cut in the 100 breaststroke, and given the level of success on both fronts, Harrington's optimistic she'll be able to push for a national berth this year.
"The fact that she trained all summer long for the World Deaf Swimming Championships makes me feel that she has a much better base this season," stated Harrington. "Molly has improved drastically from where she was at the start of last season."
Wooster could very well vie for a national cut in the 200-medley relay, as rising juniors Hannah Langer and Kate Murphy anchor a talented backstroke core, while classmate Brooke Brown, who swam the freestyle leg at last year's NCAC meet, also returns. In fact, the Scots have plenty of talent sprinkled throughout the stroke and individual medley events with Brown entering the season as the Scots' top sprint-specialist, and versatile junior Madison Whitman giving the Scots a formidable duo in the breaststroke events, in addition to her strong contributions in the 400 individual medley.
"Kate and Hannah really surprised us last year," added Harrington. "They used practice to push each other. I feel like both of them will continue to improve this year and move up through the ranks at the conference level. Brooke's our projected top scorer in the 50 freestyle, 100 individual medley, and 100 butterfly. It's also exciting to have Madison in the program because she adds so much versatility to our dual meet and conference lineup."
The Scots' junior class, which is rounded out by Anne Bowers, Leah Jorn, Heidi Likins, Lexi Riley-DiPaolo, Kera Sells, and Paige Sogandares, gives Harrington plenty of options to cover a plethora of events, and is a group the veteran head coach expects to "have a significant impact for our team both in dual meets and at the conference championships."
Senior Nell Kacmarek leads the way among the seniors and distance freestyle crew, and is coming off a year in which she was part of two top-five relays and three top-12 individual finishes at the NCAC Championships. Mady Ferguson, Sara Fikse, Megan Gross, Alison Hsu, Avery Pearson, and Sarah Stutler round out the class.
"We have an extremely talented group of seniors," added Harrington. "I'm looking forward to having them be a part of the team for a full season again, as we had five of them (Sara, Megan, Alison, Avery, and Sarah) abroad for a semester last season. This is a tremendous leadership group for our program."
While small, Harrington's confident Wooster's sophomore class will make a significant impact this year, thanks to a "tremendous amount of talent." The Scots' sophomore ranks include Emma Bossaert, Mia Chen, Molly Likins, and Kate Schlegel.
Wooster's season opens at the Kenyon Relays on October 19. The Scots host five dual meets this season, and the program's annual Wooster Invitational is set to take place December 5-7.