Tough Bears Swimming Slate Set for 2014-15
July 16, 2014
SPRINGFIELD - On the heels of one of its best seasons in program history, the Missouri State swimming & diving team will swim a tough schedule in 2014-15, one that features 12 regular-season meets, head coach Dave Collins announced Wednesday.
In all, the Bears will compete against four SEC schools, two American Athletic Conference schools and one each from the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12.
"This year's schedule will provide our programs with many opportunities to compete against some very good teams," Collins, who is entering his third full season as head coach at MSU, said. "It is definitely the most challenging schedule we have had since I have been at Missouri State University. With many teams that finished last season ranked in the top 25, numerous conference champions, and the Division II national champions, we will be tested every time we compete. I feel this schedule will put us in great position to achieve our end-of-season goals for the conference championships and the NCAA championships."
The season gets underway with the 10th annual Show-Me Showdown, hosted by Missouri, on Oct. 3.
Missouri State will then travel to Evansville and Southern Illinois for a pair of conference meets on Oct. 10-11. The men's team holds a combined 28-11 mark against the two schools, while the women are 18-12 all-time.
The Bears will renew their cross-town rivalry with defending NCAA Division II national champion Drury at Hammons Student Center Pool on Oct. 16 and Jan. 22 at Breech Pool. Both the Drury men and women captured national titles for the fifth time in six seasons in 2013-14. The MSU men and women swept the Panthers at Hammons in their first meeting of two last season, but fell in the return engagement on the road. The Oct. 16 meet is one of just two at home this season.
"Both fall and spring semester meets with Drury never disappoint in the level of excitement they provide," Collins said. "Drury has established itself as the premiere Division II program in the history of the NCAA, and it is great to have them eight blocks from our campus. There will be huge crowds for both meets, and the times will be fast."
Following the first dual with the Panthers, MSU will hold its annual alumni/intrasquad meet Oct. 18.
Missouri State heads to Lawrence, Kan., for a two-day dual with the Kansas women and former Sun Belt Conference rival Denver Oct. 24-25. The Jayhawks are coached by Clark Campbell, the father of incoming MSU freshman Canaan Campbell, and the Denver is coming off of a sweep of the 2014 Sun Belt championships.
"I am really looking forward to our two-day dual meets with Kansas and Denver in October," said Collins. "To compete against an up-and-coming Big 12 Conference team in Kansas, and reestablish an old Sun Belt Conference rivalry with Denver will be a lot of fun. Both programs are very well coached and will be ready to race."
The Bears will take on Missouri in Columbia on Oct. 31. The Tigers finished last season ranked 24th nationally by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America on the men's side.
Missouri State takes part in the Louisville Invitational, a three-day championship-style meet from Nov. 21-23. The event will feature Connecticut, SIU, Western Kentucky and the James Madison women with long-course events in the morning prelims and short-course races in the evening finals session. The Louisville men finished 12th in the final coaches poll and the women were 14th.
"Having the ability to compete in a long course (50-meter Olympic distance) competition for the prelims will allow our athletes the opportunity to achieve U.S. Olympic Trials cuts as well as international time standards," Collins said. "Then, they will get to switch gears and race the traditional college distance (25 yards) in the finals. This is a unique opportunity that will add to the excitement of our mid-season invite."
Following the Louisville Invitational, the Bears travel to Texas for their winter break training trip. The women will take on defending Conference USA champion Rice in Houston on Jan. 3.
The MSU men have the difficult task of facing Tennessee and Texas A&M in College Station on Jan. 8. The Volunteers finished 17th in the national poll a year ago while the Aggies were receiving national-poll votes at the end of the year.
"Having the ability to change the training atmosphere during the long winter break is a huge advantage for our program," continued Collins. "Last year's training camp in Colorado allowed us to take advantage of the benefits of altitude training. This year we will head south and utilize the great Rice facility and weather for outdoor training."
The Bears return home to meet Truman State on Jan 17 for senior day. The Bears swept the Division II Bulldogs last season at home (156-93 on the men's side, and 134-119 against the women).
The women's team faces another stiff test in traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., to swim Arkansas. The Razorbacks closed the 24th in the coaches poll. The men head to Rolla, Mo., that day to go up against Missouri S&T.
For the second straight year, the men will take part in the Shamrock Invitational, hosted by Notre Dame on Jan 30-31 in Notre Dame, Ind. Also in the field are Iowa - which the Bears defeated, 213-157, last year when the Hawkeyes were ranked 25th in the country - and Incarnate Word.
"In our last tune up before the MAC Championships we will return to Notre Dame for the Shamrock invitational," Collins said. "Last year, this meet provided us with an opportunity to race quality opponents and sharpen some final details before heading into our championship meets. Getting a win against a very good University of Iowa team was a highlight last season."
The Missouri Valley Conference championships will return to Carbondale, Ill., and begin Feb. 18. The Bears will be looking to lay claim to their eighth consecutive women's league title, while the Mid-American Conference championships will be contested at the SPIRE Aquatics Center, a 10-lane, Olympic-size facility, in Geneva, Ohio, beginning on March 4. The MSU men's team won its first MAC title a year ago and will be looking to repeat.
NCAA championships are slated for March 19-21 in Greensboro, N.C., for the women and March 26-28 in Iowa City, Iowa for the men.
"Something we discuss with the team the very first time we get together in August is the importance of being at the NCAA championships. Both NCAA championship locations are at great venues and will provide an incredible atmosphere that our athletes will be working daily to be a part of."