Champs again, swimming and diving wins HL Championships


photo courtesy of John Konstantaras

Day 4 – 2017 Horizon League Swimming & Diving Championships at the UIC Natatorium on Saturday, February 25, 2017 in Chicago. Oakland’s men’s and women’s teams won their 39th and 23rd straight Horizon League titles, respectively.

The 2017 Horizon League Swim and Dive Championships was one for the record books. Among a slew of swimmers shattering school records, the Golden Grizzlies cooperated as a team to propel past their opponents in the pool.

Oakland men’s and women’s teams finished with unparalleled scores of 839.50 and 842.50, respectively. Taking 22 of 40 events, Oakland triumphed in the water.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

After the first day of competition at Flames Natatorium in Chicago, Oakland took three Horizon League titles. The men’s team stood at first with 80 points, while the women’s lagged at sixth with 74 points.

Despite the hiccup, the women’s team still managed to dash a school record.

Grace Shinske, Takara Martin, Holly Morren and Katie Colwell concluded the 200-yard medley with a time of 1:39.8, a performance 0.29 seconds shy of first, but worthy of 34 points.

Continuing for the women’s team, Patricia Aschan, Arynn de Leeuw, Alysse Fischer and Holly Morren gathered a Horizon League title in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 7:21.25.

The men’s team was responsible for taking the other two Horizon League titles that day.

Losing the 200-medley relay title to Cleveland State last year, Paul Huch, Tony Eriksson, Tuomas Kiviluoma and Jeremiah Morren regained it for Oakland, finishing at 1:26.47.

The men’s team wrapped up the day with the 800-yard freestyle relay.  After 6:32.30 of grueling athleticism, the men’s team finished first, claiming 40 points and an additional league title.

Thursday, Feb. 23

Day two was the day of champions, with six Golden Grizzlies winning individual titles.

Aschan (200 IM), Micah DeJonge (500 free), Kiviluoma (200 IM), Holly Morren (50 free), Jeremiah Morren (50 free) and Joe Smith (1-meter diving) reigned for Oakland.

Smith’s first career diving title garnered him a score of 340.60, while Aschan’s time of 2:00.72 allowed her to take the 200 IM for a third consecutive year, making her the second female swimmer in league history to do so. Also competing in the 200 IM, Kiviluoma finished the event at 1:46.88.

DeJonge became the fourth consecutive Golden Grizzly to win the 500 free and claimed her first career title.

The Morren siblings demolished existing records. Holly Morren’s first career title came in the 50 free when she broke the pool, school and league records, clocking a time of 22.58. Her time made her the third swimmer in conference history to finish that event in under 23 seconds.

Complementing his sister’s accolades, Jeremiah Morren was one of two swimmers to win the men’s 50 free for three years straight. Colwell, de Leeuw, Amber Lefler, and Morren completed the day with a school-record performance of 1:31.50 in the 200 free relay.

Oakland finished the second day first in both the men’s and women’s categories with 311.50 and 271.50, respectively.

Friday, Feb. 24

With their lead now well-established, the Golden Grizzlies looked to further their dominance in the pool.

Placing five swimmers in the women’s top eight for the 400-IM and the men’s 200 free, Oakland demonstrated its versatility. Four Golden Grizzlies also placed in the top eight in the women’s 100 breaststroke.

Winning an additional individual title for her time of 4:15.06 in the 400 IM, Aschan became the first woman to win the event four years in a row.

Martin also joined the annals of history when she wrapped up the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:01.22, accompanying teammate Rachel Waite as the only two women in program history to complete the event in under 1:02.

Capping off the night in the women’s 400-medley relay, Shinske, Martin, Aschan and Colwell took first with 3:41.51.  Adding to the men’s accomplishments, Patrik Lofgren earned his first individual championship title going 3:54.73 in the 400 IM.

Kiviluoma garnished another title, thanks to his 1:37.32 performance in the 200 freestyle.

Oakland finalized the third day leading 559.50 in the men’s and 539.50 in the women’s.

Saturday, Feb. 25

Displaying her tenacity once again, Holly Morren set a new pool, school and league record in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 49.14. Waite also contributed to the women’s awards and set a new school record with her 2:11.94 performance in the 200 breaststroke.

Smith’s victory on the 3-meter board made him the first male diver in Oakland’s history to sweep diving at the Horizon League Championships.

Also sweeping events, Aleksander Danielewski claimed the men’s 200 backstroke title with his time of 1:45.56

In the end, Oakland toppled Cleveland State, Green Bay, Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago, Valparaiso, Wright State and Youngstown State, earning 39 and 23 straight league titles for the men’s and women’s teams, respectively.

“I enjoyed my last day of the competition the most,” Aschan said. “It is such an honor to know that I have been able to break some of the records that have been set by the best swimmers of Oakland history.”

Oakland head coach Pete Hovland weighed in on the role of the veterans this season.

“We have a special group of eight men and eight women, all seniors, that really established the culture and set the stage of excellence,” Hovland said. “They led right from the beginning.”

With the season wrapped up, Aschan speculated on the program’s future.

“I hope that my class has set an example for the rest of the team and that they will want to follow in our footsteps,” she said. “There is a lot of talent in the team, and I truly believe that they will do amazing next year.”