||Divers steal the show in Cardinals' season-opening losses to Hamline
WINONA, Minn. They were the talk of the preseason.
When asked what he thought of his Saint Mary's University swimming and diving teams heading into their season opener against Hamline on Saturday, Eric Lindquist sang the praises of his freshman divers.
"Our biggest impact this season is going to be in diving, no question about that," he said. "Our diving has certainly taken a step forward."
Saturday afternoon, Erik Oksnevad (Blaine, Minn.) and Ellen Meloy (Rochester, Minn.) lived up to the preseason hype, as both captured first-place finishes in the one-meter diving recording national-qualifying standards in the process.
Unfortunately, Oksnevad's and Meloy's individual successes could not translate into team success as Hamline swept the dual meet. The Piper men outdistanced SMU 85-46, while the Hamline women cruised to a 114-85 victory.
"This was just about what we expected for a first meet," said Lindquist. "We were a little shorthanded (many of SMU's swimmers are competing in the national club water polo tournament), and that certainly had an effect on the final team scores.
"I think we'll get a better idea of where we are at next week (at Luther)."
Lindquist does need another meet to know where his divers are at the top.
Oksnevad finished with 266.45 points, shattering the school record en route to his first-place showing, while Meloy was equally impressive on the women's side, shattering the school one-meter mark with a 249.60 total. Not to be outdone, Holly Fujii (Elk Grove, Ill.) broke the school's three-meter record, placing first with a 225.00 total.
"To already put up national-qualifying numbers in their first meet is outstanding," said SMU diving coach Debi Piscitiello. "It's still very early in the season, but with this kind of start, we're in for an exciting season."
Despite having to play second-fiddle to the team's divers, there were plenty of other impressive performance against the Pipers.
Lindsay Salisbury (Waukesha, Wis.) placed first in the 500 freestyle with a time of 6:02.38, while also adding a second in the 50 freestyle (27.86). Louise Turnquist (Woodbury, Minn.) chipped in a first-place effort in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.30, while on the men's side, Ryan Girtler (Winona, Minn.) notched SMU's best finish, placing second in the 50 freestyle (26.19).