2006-07 Men's and Women's Season Reviews
MSU Places Second at the MVC Championship
The Missouri State women’s swimming and diving team finished second to host Southern Illinois at the 2007 Missouri Valley Conference Swimming and Diving Championship, after claiming four-straight titles from 2003-06.
The Bears, under head coach Jack Steck, associate head coach Randy Horner and diving coach Jim Huelskamp, were unable to outscore host Southern Illinois to earn their fifth-straight title. The Salukis were named the conference champions for the first time since 2002 with 894 points. Missouri State was the Valley runner-up with 807.50 points, followed by Illinois State with 740.50 points, Northern Iowa with 382 points and Evansville with 314 points.
The Bears broke three MSU individual varsity records at the Valley meet in addition to two relay records. The Bears also set new MVC marks in the 200- and 400-yard medley relays.
Eight members of the squad earned first team all-MVC honors and eight were given honorable mention accolades. Eight student-athletes were named MVC Scholar-Athletes as well.
The end of the season saw Missouri State ranked as the 11th-best mid-major program in the country, according to collegeswimming.com. The Bears fell five spots from their sixth-place ranking at the end of the 2005-06 season. Harvard University topped the 2006-07 season-ending poll.
The Bears had a rough start to the 2006-07 season, falling to Nebraska and Southern Illinois in the first two competitions of the year. Missouri State obtained its first win against former NCAA-II champion Truman State in late October and then won its first road meet two weeks later in Cleveland, Miss., over Delta State.
Missouri State competed against Drury University for the first time in MSU women’s swimming and diving history. The Panthers visited the Bears at home and won 137-106. Andi Rojas was the lone individual winner for MSU, winning the 200 IM in 2:09.03. Rojas also swam the second-leg of the 400 freestyle relay that ended the meet with a win.
In December, the Bears won the Delta State Christmas Invitational for the third consecutive year. Five 2006-07 season-best marks were set at the Invite.
Missouri State suffered five dual meet losses to start the new year. The first three losses were in Boca Raton, Fla., against Florida Atlantic, Clemson and Rice. The Bears were unable to score any first-place wins in the triple-dual. MSU competed at Arkansas a short three days later and dropped two dual competitions to Arkansas and Denver. Jordan Hawkins highlighted the Bears at the meet, swimming the lead leg in the winning 400 freestyle relay and she also picked up a win in the 100 freestyle.
In the Bears’ last home meet of the season, MSU scored a win over Henderson State 73-29. Missouri State earned nine event wins in the competition including Matana Wellman’s first collegiate win in the 200 freestyle. Wellman also won the 500 freestyle.
Steck and the Bears ended their regular season with three road meets. The first was against Drury and the Lady Panthers were able to prevail over the Bears for the second time. MSU then headed to Evansville, Ind., and scored its last dual meet win of the season over the Purple Aces. The following day, the Salukis handed the Bears their 10th dual meet loss of the season.
Andi Rojas earned MSU Swimmer of the Year honors for the second-straight year and Fran Moody was voted MSU Freshman of the Year and was awarded with the Jeck Steck Inspiration award. Chelsea Ray was named MSU diver of the Year and Brooke Paulsen was given the Darin Kent Spirit Award.
Steck concluded his ninth year as the Missouri State’s women’s swimming and diving coach with an overall women’s record of 66-60.
MSU men’s swim team finishes third in first sun belt championship
The Missouri State men’s swimming and diving team joined the Sun Belt Conference for the 2006-07 season. The Bears’ goal of winning their first Sun Belt title fell short, as they placed third behind defending champion Western Kentucky and runner-up Denver.
Under head coach Jack Steck, associate head coach Randy Horner and diving coach Jim Huelskamp, Missouri State ended its 2006-07 season with an 8-3 dual meet record and a third-place finish in the Sun Belt.
2006-07 MSU Swimmer of the Year Victor Serra highlighted the Bears at the Sun Belt Championship, claiming three championships and three conference records. Serra won the 200 individual medley in a time of 1:50.09 and the 100 butterfly in 48.92. He swam the third leg of the 400-yard medley relay that won in a time of 3:17.77 and also marked an MSU varsity record. Other members of that relay included Eduardo Pajares, Greg Temple and Ignacio Gayo. Pajares was the only other Sun Belt champion, winning the 400 IM in 3:57.81.
Western Kentucky has won the past three Sun Belt Conference Championships and this year scored 734 points to take home the crown. Denver placed second with 665 points and Missouri State was not too far behind with a third-place score of 627. Southern Illinois placed fourth behind the Bears with 598.5 points, followed by Florida Atlantic with 354 points and Evansville with 207.5 points.
Six MSU student-athletes were named to the Sun Belt All-Conference First Team with seven Brears earning honorable mention accolades. Serra was named the 2006-07 MSU Swimmer of the Year and Jesse Shalley was awarded Freshman of the Year. Cole Kalkbrenner earned the title of MSU Diver of the Year and the men’s Jack Steck Inspiration Award was given to Gayo.
The Bears started the season off with a loss to conference rival Southern Illinois. The Salukis were able to outscore Missouri State 49-37, winning six of ten events. Missouri State bounced back the next day with a win over Truman State University. The Bears swept all 16 events and dominated the Bulldogs 176-103.
In their first road trip of the season, the Bears rolled past Delta State University 197-92 in Cleveland, Miss. MSU had 11 event wins at the dual with Pajares, Serra and Johnson each winning two.
Missouri State competed against Drury University for the first time in over 20 years this season. On November 11, the Bears hosted the Panthers and outscored them 136-107, with commanding performances by Ignacio Gayo who came away with three event wins. MSU returned the visit to Drury on January 18, and eased past them for the second time, 142-101.
At the annual Delta State Christmas Invitational in December, the Bears claimed victory over Tampa and Delta State with 913 total points. This was the third year in a row the Bears have won this meet.
Missouri State began the new year with a win over Florida Atlantic and a loss to Clemson in Boca Raton, Fla., in a double dual meet. Gayo was the lone winner in the meet with a first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle.
On January 6, the Bears competed against Denver for the first time ever in Fayetteville, Ark. Denver outscored the Bears 165-133. Pajares was the top performer for the Bears in the meet with three individual championships and one relay win.
In its last home meet of the season, the Missouri State swim team dominated Henderson State 55-41. Serra, Pajares, Gayo and J.R. Pyle were all individual winners for the Bears.
Missouri State wrapped up its regular season with dual meet wins over Evansville and SIU. The Bears were victorious over the Purple Aces with a score of 120-96 and beat SIU 128-115 in Carbondale, Ill.
Steck concluded his 24th year at Missouri State with an overall MSU dual meet record of 213-80-1, and he has improved his 39-year overall men’s record to 347-130-1.