The Mavericks’ linchpin: MacDonald’s path to Mesa State’s swimming team takes interesting twist

Dan MacDonald made his decision, then changed his mind.

The Wyoming all-state high school swimmer signed a letter of intent with Division I University of South Dakota, but a couple days later decided Vermillion, S.D., wasn’t the right place for him.

“Two days later I had a breakdown,” MacDonald said. “I made the wrong decision.

“I come from a small town and Vermillion is even smaller. As a business major, I need a big network and Vermillion was just too small. I wanted to go where I can go out and meet new people.”

The Gillette, Wyo., native talked to the South Dakota coach and was released without any problems. He then called Mesa State coach Brian Pearson.

“He is one of our heavy hitters,” Pearson said. “We were kind of bummed out that his first intent was to go to South Dakota. Then the next day we got an e-mail saying he was coming to Mesa State.

“He’s kind of the linchpin in our recruiting. We needed four or five good people to come in and had about two months to recruit. He’s one of those kids who could be at a watered-down Division I program or an upper end top 15 Division II program.”

MacDonald liked the fact Mesa State was in the process of building a new indoor pool, which officially opened last week. The Mavericks men and women host their first meet at the El Pomar Natatorium at 10 a.m. Saturday. The guests are University of Northern Colorado, New Mexico and Adams State’s women’s teams and the University of Colorado men’s and women’s club teams.

Mesa State also hosts the CU club team at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“I’m ready to show the school we’re here to compete,” MacDonald said. “If anything, to say thank you for this way nice facility.”

He is one of 14 men in the first-year program. Six of them are taking redshirts this season.

“We had a lot of growing pains at the beginning,” MacDonald said. “Brian just let people walk on, which is fine because we needed numbers, but not all of them were committed swimmers. We have a core group now and they are ready to go. I think we’ve got our conference team in place now. It takes a lot of time to get the right people here.”

“We knew we were going to have growing pains and I hope he did,” Pearson said. “We had some kids who were up to freshmen antics at the first of the (fall) semester. That disenchanted (MacDonald) because he is a serious athlete. We wanted people who were serious or he wouldn’t stay here.”

MacDonald is, without question, committed.

“I don’t know what I’d do without (swimming),” he said. “I don’t think I’d be able to function. Coming to college where I don’t know anyone, swimming is awesome. The team is like another family.”

MacDonald is the Mavericks’ top butterfly swimmer and one of the team’s best in freestyle.

“Danny is a strong flyer and sprinter,” Pearson said. “He’s kind of a utility swimmer for us now because he’s our strongest swimmer in every event. Once we get more teammates in here for him, he’ll be more specialized.

“We told him, he’ll be a cornerstone for our program. It’s hard for him because he doesn’t have anyone to train with right now. Next year, it will get better.”


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