Mesa State swimmer capable of quick times in pool

Katie Wedel swims in the 100-yard breast stroke race during a recent Mesa State College meet at the Orchard Mesa pool.

Katie Wedel didn’t know what to expect her first year of college swimming.

Now that she sees what’s possible, she couldn’t be more excited.

The Mesa State College freshman from Pueblo is on the verge of being the first swimmer in the program’s four-year history to qualify for the NCAA Division II Championships.

“I didn’t know the times coming in, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations,” Wedel said. “Now that I’m there (close to national qualifying times) and see it’s definitely attainable, I’m excited.”
Wedel and the Mavericks compete in the first RMAC Championships from Thursday through Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.

The fifth-ranked Incarnate Word Cardinals, who are an affiliate member of the RMAC, are hosting the meet. Six teams will compete, including Mesa State, Incarnate Word, No. 25 Colorado Mines, Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Nebraska-Kearney and Texas-Permain Basin.

“We should be the top swimming team,” said Mesa State coach Brian Pearson, who doesn’t have divers this season. “If you took out the diving component, we should win the swimming component. When you compare apples to apples, we should be the champions.

“If we win two relays, it’s going to be really close. If we can win three relays, we can pull it off.”

Wedel is hoping to qualify for the NCAA championships in the 400-yard individual medley.

For her to do that, she needs an A cut time of 4 minutes, 33.09 seconds.

“I think it’s really promising,” Pearson said. “You don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch, but she is very capable of doing it, especially in a shave, taper, altitude, rest situation.

“She’s that type of kid that likes to race and is confident.”

Wedel secured a B cut time of 4:40.86 nearly a month ago in a home meet against Alaska-Fairbanks in the midst of a heavy training schedule.

Now she’s rested and ready to go.

“I was not feeling great that day,” Wedel said. “It let me know if I swim like that and get a B cut, that when I’m tapered and rested I have a good chance of getting the A cut.”

Swimmers who reach B cut times can enter their event at the national meet provided they’re on a relay team that qualifies for nationals.

Wedel has the second-best time in the 400 IM entering the RMAC Championships behind Incarnate Word’s Paulina Alexander, who is on the cusp of an A cut with a time of 4:33.64.

“It will be a great opportunity because she’s got a girl that she’ll be racing that basically already has an A cut,” assistant coach Dan France said. “That will push her to do it.”

Wedel is seeded second in the 200 IM, third in the 100 breaststroke and second in the 200 breaststroke.

“She could win three events at this meet,” Pearson said. “We’re hoping for best times and go from there.”

Another freshman, Jackie McMillen of Montrose, is closing in on a B cut time in the 200 backstroke.

“If she has an average race, she’ll have a B cut (in the 200 back),” France said. “The chips are there for her to do it. She swam a 2:11 high. The B cut is about a 2:09. She’s the type of kid that will taper like crazy, then throw the altitude in there…

“I’d be willing to go out on a limb for that girl. She’s a pretty tough kid. When you get her in a race in a competitive situation, she’ll thrive. It looks very promising. If she has a good race, she’ll get her B cut. If she has a great race, the A cut may be a stretch, but she’ll be very close.”

Freshman Karoline Fry of Delta has a shot at the B cut in the 100 back, France said.

Sophomores Sarah Hagerstrom and Megan Takakura have good seeds in several events.

Hagerstrom is seeded first in the 1,000 freestyle.


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