Even though the Missouri swimming and diving team is coming off a record season and is a year and a half away from moving into a new facility, Rebecca Wolfe, a Tigers senior, says she wants more.
Wolfe won a Big 12 Conference championship last season in the 200-yard butterfly and holds the school record in the event. Finishing 24th in the event in the preliminaries of last year’s NCAA Championships disappoints her, though. It was the second time she swam in the meet.
“I haven’t done nearly as well as I should have in the past two years,” Wolfe said. “This is our last chance.”
Still, last season ranks among the most successful for the women’s team. The Tigers finished 13-1 and sent three swimmers to the NCAA meet, the most qualifiers Missouri has sent in coach Brian Hoffer’s 11 seasons at Missouri. Sarah Lo and Andrea Nigh also made it, Lo in the 100 and 200 backstroke and 100 breastroke and Nigh in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
None of the Tigers scored points.
“Rebecca probably had the most amount of expectations because she has been there before and has scored (in 2001 with Nebraska),” Hoffer said. “The other two, it was their first time there. I think they were happy to be there, and I think they did a great job when they were there, but I don’t know if they were quite ready to make that break into the top 16.”
All three qualifiers from last season return, and Hoffer says the Tigers could send more than three this year. Sophomore Liz Schoborg, who came on strong late last season, is one potential NCAA qualifier. She set a school record in the 100 butterfly as a freshman. Hoffer says getting more swimmers to the NCAA Championships is a goal he has set for the team.
With only 16 swimmers and two divers on the roster, depth could be a problem for the men’s team. The Tigers lost several key swimmers from last year’s 5-5 team, including Matt Ferrarelli and Radu Miclaus. Ferrarelli, in his final year of eligibility, was the only NCAA qualifier for the men. Miclaus, who graduated, will return this season as an assistant coach.
“I think the guys swam as well, or better then the women,” Hoffer said. “We lacked a little bit of depth that the women had, and that’s probably why we didn’t get ranked.”
Seniors Tyler Belanger (freestyle and butterfly) and Chris Musfeldt (freestyle and breaststroke) and junior Matt North (individual medley and breaststroke) are back to lead the team. Joining them is an exciting pair of sophomore divers, Evan Watters and Aaron Wionzek. Freshman Jason Lyons (freestyle) was a top-20 recruit coming out of Riverside Poly (Calif.) High.
“I think we’re going to see some underclassmen and some sophomores, and even some of these freshmen step up to fill those holes so we can still be competitive,” Musfeldt said.
The Tigers host the annual Black & Gold Meet on Friday at the University Natatorium.