CLEVELAND, Ohio – According to polls of Horizon League head coaches, the Cleveland State University men's swimming & diving team was selected to finish second in the League in 2017-18 while the CSU women's squad was projected to place sixth.
Oakland was selected as the favorite on both the men's and women's sides, with the Oakland men earning 50 points in the poll, six more than CSU. The CSU women claimed 47 points in the preseason poll, just a single point behind fifth place Green Bay. Full poll results are available at the bottom of this article.
The CSU men posted 663 points in finishing second at the Horizon League Championships last year, the program's highest point total in four years. There are 13 Vikings on this year's roster that scored points as an individual at last year's League meet.
The trio of CSU men's seniors—Jonathan LaValle, Patrick Tippen and Grant Wethington—combined for five top-eight individual finishes at last year's League meet. Junior Jared Stergar will look to carry a strong ending to last season over to this year. Stergar had a breakout performance at the 2017 HL Championships, winning the 200 breaststroke and posting two other top-four finishes. Classmate Curtis Roden led CSU on the diving board last year, twice surpassing the NCAA Zones standard in the 3-meter event and finishing third at the League meet.
Sophomores DJ Arslanian and Tyler Stevenson had strong rookie seasons, combining for four top-five finishes at the League meet, and will look to improve even further with a year of experience under their belts.
The Cleveland State men also have 12 freshmen and three transfers who will be competing as Vikings for the first time this season. Included in that group is junior Jason van der Touw, who won two individual events as CSU opened its season last weekend, and freshman Matt Akers, who swept the diving events last weekend.
The CSU women improved two spots from the year prior at the 2017 Horizon League Championships while posting their highest point total during head coach Paul Graham's tenure.
Seniors Madisen Tretter, Jamie VanDewerker and Tobie Zeller combined to post five top-10 individual finishes at the League meet a season ago. Tretter owns the school record in the 200 breaststroke while VanDewerker and Zeller were on CSU's record-breaking 200 medley relay last year.
Juniors Molly McNamara and Cassandra Oltman return after also being on the aforementioned relay that broke a school record. McNamara broke school records and posted NCAA cut times in both butterfly events last season while claiming the League title in the 200 fly. Oltman scored in three individual events at last year's League meet and posted top-four finishes in three events at the Magnus Cup. Sophomores Meghan Bobick and Gabriella Marinelli both scored in multiple individual events at last year's League Championships as rookies.
Ten freshmen join the women's squad that will look to make an impact in their first collegiate seasons. Included in that group is Dana Bender, who won the 200 backstroke in a field of 32 competitors at this past weekend's meet. Alana Cartwright, Lexie Kostelnik and Gracyn McQueary all added top-three individual finishes in their first collegiate meet.
Cleveland State opened its 2017-18 season this past weekend at Colgate's Justin Jennings Memorial Invitational and combined to win six events. The Vikings will open their dual meet schedule next Thursday, Oct. 19, at Xavier.
Cleveland State will host the 2018 Horizon League Championships Feb. 21-24.
2017-18 Horizon League Men's Swimming & Diving Preseason Poll
School – Points
1. Oakland – 50
2. Cleveland State – 44
3. IUPUI – 41
4. UIC – 33
5. Milwaukee – 29
6. Green Bay – 28
7. Wright State – 20
2017-18 Horizon League Women's Swimming & Diving Preseason Poll
School – Points
1. Oakland – 78
2. Milwaukee – 71
3. IUPUI – 58
UIC – 58
5. Green Bay – 48
6. Cleveland State – 47
7. Youngstown State – 33
8. Wright State – 24