Two meets, same outcome for ISU swimming and diving team

Alex Crowl

A strong win is what ISU swimming and diving wanted heading into senior day, and that is what the team accomplished.

ISU swimming and diving had two dual meets on the slate Jan. 23 to 24, competing against Northern Iowa and West Virginia on back-to-back days. A less competitive meet was predicted for UNI and that is what the Cyclones faced.

The strategy for the event against UNI was different than usual. Iowa State changed some things up, placing swimmers in their second and third-best events in order to get some more experience for their girls once the Big 12 Championship approaches.

ISU coaches Duane Sorenson and Kelly Nordell still wanted their swimmers to be focused for a UNI team they said would be ready.

“We wanted to swim well, but we didn’t want to put too much emotional and physical effort into it,” Sorenson said. “[Jan. 24] is a big day and we will see what we are made of tomorrow morning.”

Iowa State cruised past its in-state competitor with little friction, knowing that West Virginia was coming to Beyer Hall the following morning for senior day. 

Coach Nordell spoke recently on her team’s methodology in back-half events and its ability to turn it on in the second half leading toward the end of meets.

This quality for the ISU swimming and diving team was certainly present at Beyer Hall on senior day against West Virginia.

After eight events in a 16-event meet, Iowa State only had victories from Sarah Deis and Amanda Paulson. Regardless of the inability to get wins early, the score remained close for the entire front half of the event.

Iowa State built momentum and a bit of a lead, negating its early struggles. Three straight victories for the Cyclones resulted in the largest lead of the meet at 121-105.

Just as the momentum started to build up to something for Iowa State, it was quickly torn down by a West Virginia sweep. After the finish in 1-meter diving, Iowa State lost its lead and found itself trailing 136-128 with just two events to go.

Senior Kristy Kunkel, on her final day performing in competition at Beyer Hall, was slated for the 400-yard IM but was asked to vacate the race for another swimmer. That swimmer was freshman Kasey Roberts, who stole the spotlight on senior day.

“She stood up like a trooper and went out and raced it,” Sorenson said. “I told all three of them … I said one of you three needs to win this race and don’t rely on the other two to do it.”

With Roberts leading the way, Iowa State was able to sweep the event and regain momentum heading into the final and deciding relay.

Roberts was nothing but smiles when asked to compete in place of Kunkel. She kept the smile throughout the rest of the meet and after the meet as well.

“It was Plan B, but Marissa [Engel], Sarah [Deis] and I all stepped up and really gave it our all,” Roberts said. “We came away with the one, two, three, so it was great racing.”

Kristy Kunkel, known well for her cheering and support for the team, let Roberts step in for her on her senior day in order to get the win.

Coach Sorenson mentioned before the entire dual meet that the 400 IM was not set in stone.

“Duane came up to me and said we need to put Kasey [Roberts] in,” Kunkel said. “I said, ‘do it.’ She’s on fire. She can go out there and win it and she did. I’m very happy about that move.”

The crucial counter sweep for the Cyclones helped regain the momentum with only the final relay remaining. ISU swimming and diving finished first and third in the final relay, finishing the meet on top with a final score of 157-143.

ISU swimming and diving hits the road for its final dual event of the season against Kansas on Feb. 6 to 7 in Lawrence, Kan.