Swim teams finish final home meet strong on senior night

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s and women’s swim teams celebrated senior night on Saturday and the women were also able to celebrate a pair of wins against Western and Butler.

The women defeated the Leathernecks for the second time this season, 125-76 and Butler by just one point, 102.50-101.50. The men lost to Western 121-84.

The men and women combined for a total of 10 first place finishes in the meet and they were also able to bring home 11 second place finishes.

Eastern honored the 10 seniors in the swim program prior to the meet. Dylan Ferguson, Jake Roberts, Kyle Ruckert, Bridgette Bowen, Caitlin Danforth, Kelsey Ferguson, Laura Horvat, Beth Houghton, Kaylee Morris and Joann Wakefield were all recognized for their respective careers as Panthers.

“Senior night is always bittersweet,” coach Jacqueline Michalski said of the 10 seniors who she has coached the last two years. “The more time I spend with a group of seniors, maybe the more bitter it is because I’m sad to lose them.”

Michalski added that the bond between the seniors on each team is very strong.

“Jake (Roberts) and Kyle (Ruckert) are inseparable at times and it causes a lot of funny, funny moments and Dylan (Ferguson) is one that kind of helps keep them in line,” Michalski said.

The women’s bond began when they all came in freshman year. All seven have been here together since the beginning.

Morris and Wakefield started their nights off strong by helping the 200-yard medley relay team win the first event of the night with a time of 1:50.67. Freshman Lauren Oostman and sophomore Dani Dimatteo were on the team as well.

Roberts and Ruckert also had strong starts to their senior nights by going 2-3 in the men’s 1000-yard freestyle. Roberts had another second place finish in the men’s 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:56.94, just .31 seconds behind Cameron Van De Velde of Western.

For Ruckert, Ray Padovan Pool became a second home.

“Saturday, definitely was emotional,” Ruckert said. “When Elliot (McGill) recruited me to swim here, I still remember walking into Ray Padovan Pool for the first time. Then over my four years, the pool became a second home for me, that I was honored to swim in given its history.”

Morris, as she usually does, won the women’s 100-yard freestyle with a time of 52.45.

“I couldn’t have imagined senior night going any better,” Morris said. “Having my family at the meet and winning both individually and as a team, it was one of the best meets thus far in my swimming career.”

Morris said with the season winding down she is just going to approach the last few meets focused and ready to race. She added she wants to enjoy the time she has left training with her teammates and coaches.

Another senior who had a top place finish on her senior night was Kelsey. Kelsey finished first in the women’s 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:09.65. She also earned second place honors in the 200-yard individual medley at 2:15.48.

While the seniors only have a few weeks left in their swimming careers, they have made impacts on the younger swimmers in just one year.

Oostman is just one of the swimmers who has looked up to the seniors in the short time they have been together.

“Even though I haven’t gotten to know them for that long, I got close with some of the seniors and they have helped motivate me throughout this whole season,” Oostman said. “If I ever need someone to talk to, I have them to talk to which is a great feeling.”

Oostman also had a strong night in the pool for the Panthers. She was a part of the 200-medley relay team that took first place, she won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.47 and took second in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:02.80. Fellow freshman Martee Grainger won the 200-freestyle at 2:01.79.

She had an in-season best time in the 200-yard medley relay at 28.71 and in the 200-freestyle at 2:02.80.

“I actually was not expecting that in any of my times,” Oostman said. “I’m very happy with how I swam (Saturday).”

This was the Panther’s first meet since Dec. 4. Michalski said she was happy with how the teams came back.

“We posted times that are pretty impressive for our first meet back,” Michalski said.

The women were also shorthanded for the meet and were able to beat a full-strength Butler team by just a point.

“It speaks well for the program and it is showing where our women’s team is going and even our men’s team to kind of swim that fast, it’s really boding well for our program.”


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]