Swimming and Diving wins ninth straight Horizon League Championship


Photo courtesy of Oakland University Athletics

The Oakland University swimming and diving team won their ninth consecutive Horizon League title last weekend.

The Oakland University Golden Grizzlies men’s and women’s swim team won their ninth straight Horizon League Championship in a four-day meet from Feb. 16-19 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This marks the 44th straight for the men’s team, and 28th for the women’s team.

The Golden Grizzlies led in all four days to take home their record-setting championships, with the women’s team winning the meet in dominant fashion, scoring 917 points in comparison to the second-place Milwaukee Panther’s 598.5, and the men’s team surviving a late surge from the Cleveland State Vikings, winning the meet 745 to Cleveland’s 678. This Horizon League showdown also featured the hometown IUPUI, UIC, Youngstown and Green Bay.

Led by Horizon League Athlete of the Year senior Susan LaGrand, the women’s team started off strong against the competition, and it was never close. On day one, the Golden Grizzlies jumped to a 115-92 lead. From here on, Oakland’s women were unrelenting as they swept days 2-4 en route to a complete dismantling of competition in gold medals, silver medals and bronze medals as the Golden Grizzlies’ women took home their 28th straight conference title, ninth of the Horizon League.

The Golden Grizzlies men faced one of their toughest challenges yet as they faced off against a plethora of threats. Oakland started off dominant from day one, leading competitors with 479 points after the first three days. 

Day four is where the drama started, as top competitor Cleveland State Vikings briefly led the Horizon League champions in points as they pushed to make a late surge. Oakland’s Marko Khotynetskyi lead Oakland to quell any rebellion as he won several golds en route to hold off the Vikings, until a clutch victory in the 200 butterfly by Danylo Hrebelnyi would shut the door on their Horizon League Rival, and the Oakland Relay team increased the margin, securing the 44th straight title for the men’s Swim team. Khotynetskyi took home Top Swimmer of the Meet honors.

To go along with the Championship and Top Swimmers honors, Oakland’s Jonas Cantrell took home the Horizon League Freshman Swimmer of the Year Honors, and Coach Pete Hovland earned Coach of the Year honors, cementing Oakland’s dominance on the season. Though the top awards and times are mentioned above, this only scratches the surface of the Oakland team that earned their ninth straight championship.

Though history will show the titles and accolades that Oakland won this year, the gold only tells part of the story. The Golden Grizzlies were a team that blended young talents with veterans, experience with hunger, but most importantly, skill with perseverance. Oakland faced challenging opponents, some of the top swimmers in the Horizon League, but withstood the challenge with a stoic demeanor and battle tested mentalities. Their nine straight Horizon League titles are an amazing feat, but the Golden Grizzlies met the gold standard.