Eagles News
Swimming - Fri, Mar. 22, 2013
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By Jennifer Simons

The men and women of the Concordia Eagles swim and dive team traveled to Oklahoma City, Ok for the 2013 NAIA National Championships Competition.  Taking the championship for both the men and the women was Oklahoma Baptist University.  Concordia's men team earned the second place title with a total of 448.5 points and the women's team came in with a fifth place finish at 310 total points.

"We had some good swims all season, a great, positive attitude, and it really culminated in a great national meet," Concordia head coach Jeff Boss said.  "Once we got to Oklahoma City we knew what to do and I was very happy with the outcome."

All the seniors left a mark in Concordia history as they competed in their final swim meet of their college careers.  Each senior succeeded in the goal of making not only CU swim a better team, but attributed to the entire Eagle family.  Thirteen senior men: Jose Bahena, Peter Brecht, Michael Craft, Cody Ditsler, Devin Grimalda, Richard Hall, David Kauffmann, Josh Kloppenburg, Rex Learmouth, Taylor Mellinger, Matt Nellor, Evan Norton, and Billy Swanson, contributed to the CU team reaching the national competition.  Seven senior women: Kristina Bergersen, Jordyn Gosney, Kirstie Millar, Kayle Morris, Caitlin O'Rourke, Haley Ring, and Valerie Thorp finished their careers representing green and gold.  More than half these seniors finished their careers with national rankings in at least one of their meets.

Cody Ditsler contributed to a first place national championships finish in the 400 yard freestyle relay with his teammate's juniors Lucas Spencer, Kevin Donnelly, and sophomore Parker Simmons.  The team finished second place in the preliminary race at a time of 3:06.11.  In the championship round, they kicked into gear to improve their time by three 2.24 seconds setting the time to beat at 3:03.87.  They claimed Concordia's ninth NAIA Individual National Championship in school history.

Bahena finished his diving career off the one meter board with a silver place finish with his total score of 265.95, improving his preliminary score by 25.95 points and jumping up one spot on the leader board.  Off the three meter board, Bahena took a third place finish with 244.55 total points.  Throughout his career Bahena showed his consistency on the board finishing in the top spots numerous times.

Kloppenburg represented the senior class in a 50 yard freestyle swim off against UC Jeffery Snider and took away the spot touching the wall .1 second before his opponent at 21.36.  Craft contributed to final career performance with a third place finish in the 200 yard freestyle relay with the help of his teammates Donnelly, Spencer, and Simmons.  Together they earned the bronze stopping the clock at 1:22.38.  Seniors Hall, Ditsler, Kauffman, and junior Donnelly teamed up together in the 400 yard medley relay to earn the sixth spot on the championship leader board with a time of 3:27.62.  Kauffmann continued his history by leading the Eagles on the leader board in the 100 yard breaststroke and 200 yard breaststroke.  In his last 100 yard breaststroke race, Kauffmann touched the wall at 56.11 for fourth place.  In the 200 yard breaststroke, he finished with a time of 2:03.57, just under Spencer with the fourth place finish at 2:02.84.  In the 200 breaststroke, Kloppenburg, Kauffmann (twice), and Spencer (twice) all broke the school record five times, before Spencer finally set it.  Matthew Nellor finished off the leader board for the seniors in the 1650 yard freestyle for sixth place with a finishing time of 16:24.92 and a fourth place finish in the 400 yard IM stopping the clock for a final time of 4:05.95.

Senior Valerie Thorp pushed off the wall for the last time in the 200 yard backstroke event.  After a strong career at Concordia, she left her mark helping the lady Eagles take away fifth in the national competition by taking sixth place with a time of 2:08.23.  Thorp contributed in the 800 yard freestyle race with her teammates junior Carly Colin, freshmen Riley Smith and Samantha Leanza, for a seventh place finish at a time of 7:56.07.  The seniors Caitlin O'Rourke and Kayle Morris continued to bring in points for the Eagles in the 200 yard medley relay with the help of junior Brigitte Alexander and sophomore Kylie Fortier.  The women worked together to bring a solid eight place finish with the time of 1:51.45.   Morris worked with her teammates Alexander, sophomore Tara Bletcher, and freshman Sarah Eggers-Jamieson to take away the seventh place spot on the national leader board at a time of 1:39.48 in the 200 yard freestyle relay.  O'Rourke led the first leg of the race for the last time in the 400 yard medley relay with her teammates Alexander, Fortier, and Smith, to earn sixth place with a time of 4:05.47.  Senior Jordyn Gosney helped the Eagles qualify for the championship event in the 400 yard freestyle relay with her teammates Bletcher, Smith, and Eggers-Jamieson for seventh place at 3:40.84.  After a long year of rehabbing a shoulder injury, Gosney took her place on the block to give all she could for her team in the preliminary race.  Morris took her leg in the championship round bringing in the sixth place spot at a time of 3:36.67.

Sophomore Rachel Gray raced a swim-off event against the national champion OBU representative, Jade Young, in the 100 yard butterfly.  In a head-to-head match, Gray earned the spot with a pace setting time of 1:00.93, 1.5 seconds ahead of her opponent.  Colin, again, made a huge impact for the Lady Eagles in the 400 yard IM earning the fourth place spot with a time of 4:33.43, improving her preliminary time by almost four seconds and setting a new school record.  In the long 1650 yard freestyle event, Leanza represented CU with a solid time of 17:57.39 for seventh.  Not far behind her for ninth place was Colin at 18:07.20.  At the end of her first year for the Concordia Eagles, Smith holds a bright future for the swim program.  Competing in her first national competition, Smith showed nerves of steel.  In two solo events, Smith placed fifth in the 200 yard freestyle race with a time of 1:54.63, improving her preliminary spot by one and placed eighth in the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 5:08.96.

Concordia added 11 new NAIA All-Americans and four new Individual National Champions.  On the men's side, Jose Bahena, Michael Craft, Cody Ditsler, Kevin Donnelly, Parker Simmons, and Lucas Spencer all earned All-American status, with Bahena, Donnelly, Simmons, and Spencer taking it in multiple events.  Kylie Fortier earned All-American honors in the 200 breaststroke for the women.  Ditsler, Donnelly, Simmons, and Spencer engraved their names in the record books with the 400 free relay National Championship.

"The swimmers adapted a collectively positive attitude this year and worked really hard," Boss said.  "We are all very happy to be here and want to continue to improve."

Another year has been wrapped and tucked away in Concordia history forever.  The seniors took their final stand on the blocks and showed what it means to be an Eagle athlete.  Their legacies are left with those still to come through the program and proudly represent green and gold. 


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