INDIANAPOLIS -- The Oakland men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were both unanimously voted the preseason favorites for the third straight season in voting of the League’s head coaches (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the poll). As the season continues to unfold, both teams enter the season as the defending Horizon League Champions.
The 2016-17 season marks the fourth year for the Golden Grizzlies as a member of the Horizon League. Last year, both Oakland squads continued their dominance capturing their third consecutive Horizon League Championship, furthermore recording its 38th consecutive men’s championship and 23rd straight women’s title. The men’s team toward the charts with registering 840 points, while the women also put up commanding numbers with 827.50 points.
Last year’s Horizon League Swimmer of the Meet, also named Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year, Patricia Aschan, makes her return for the Golden Grizzlies after displaying a career season performance registering another NCAA B cut in the 200 backstroke. Former Freshmen of the Year, Devon Nowicki, also looks to have another impressive year as he now holds the League record in 200 breaststroke at 1:55.66. Senior Rachel Waite likewise has made her return for the Golden Grizzlies and will continue to make her mark in the individual medley and breaststroke races.
The men of Cleveland State took second in the poll with 29 points, while the women of Milwaukee also earned a spot behind Oakland, registering 42 total points. The Vikings return the men’s reigning Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year, senior Philipp Sikatzki, who last year finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in the 100 butterfly with a time of 45.37 seconds and for the women, Molly McNamara who was voted Freshman of the Year in the 2015-16 season. The Panthers graduated their top diver Rachel Margis, but already kicked off the season with a victory, defeating Grand Valley State 151-92.
Third-place finisher of last year’s championship, Wright State, secured the No. 3 spot with 27 points on the men’s side, while Milwaukee closely trailed with 21 points, placing in fourth. The UIC men followed the Panthers coming in fifth in the coaches voting with 17 points, as Green Bay finished sixth with 12 points and Valparaiso rounding out the poll.
Junior Brianna Hines aims to lead the UIC women’s squad as they placed third in the rankings, capturing 30 points followed by a three-way-tie for fourth place between Cleveland State, Green Bay and Wright State, each receiving 27 points apiece. Youngstown State and Valparaiso closed out the poll, taking the seventh and eighth places, respectively.
The 2017 Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championship hosted by UIC will take place February 22-25 at the Flames Natatorium, in Chicago, Ill.