After getting swept by rival South Dakota State over the weekend, the University of South Dakota swimming and diving team must bounce back to take on the University of North Dakota this Saturday, then prepare for Summit League Conference Championships in two weeks.
Senior swimmer Lizz Hoffman said both the men’s and women’s squads have transitioned well to the higher division and new conference.
“This year we got a great group of underclassmen that really came to push us up to that Division I level. They brought a whole new level of energy, fantastic work ethic, and just a positive attitude,” Hoffman said. “With that, we’ve really been able to come together as a team this year.”
Hoffamn said the team has reached many of the goals they set out to achieve this year, one goal including a victory over SDSU. Despite the most recent loss, the women’s squad defeated the Jackrabbits 135-108 earlier in the season on Dec. 10.
“One of our goals was to beat SDSU, which we did,” Hoffman said. “Another one was to place second at conference, so that is something we won’t be able to accomplish until it gets to be conference time. That, hopefully, we will be able to do.”
On the men’s side, head coach Jason Mahowald is looking forward to senior leadership to carry the team down the home stretch of the season.
“They have got a good core group of senior guys who know exactly what to expect and they are starting to come right into their prime right now. Those seniors are really kind of leading the way and showing the freshmen and sophomores what they do to get prepared to tear it up here in a couple weeks,” Mahowald said. “I would expect you to see some great things out of our guys.”
The North Dakota meet is the team’s last dual meet before the Summit League Championships in Rochester, Mich. beginning on Feb. 15, and Mahowald believes the meet will be a close competition for the Coyotes.
“North Dakota is a great squad. Both their men and women’s squads are very tough,” Mahowald said. “We match up well with them in that where they’re weak, we’re strong, and where we’re weak, they’re strong. So we should go blow to blow with them.”
As a senior, Hoffman is looking forward to this tough last match-up.
“UND always has a really tough squad,” Hoffman said. “It’s one of those swim meets where we have to perform our best to be able to beat them and that’s just how it always is. So the competition is going to be tough.”
After the North Dakota dual meet, USD will compete in the Minnesota Challenge at the University of Minnesota on Feb. 3 and 4. before the Summit League Championships.