Things are going swimmingly for Mavs
Freshmen jump at chance to swim in college
Alex Rogers and Kelly Hogan knew they liked Colorado.
An opportunity to go to college and compete in an intercollegiate sport helped them decide to enroll at Mesa State College.
The two freshmen are among 29 new faces competing on the Mesa State men’s and women’s swimming teams this season. The Mavericks compete against Colorado School of Mines at 6 p.m. on Friday in Golden. Mesa competes in the University of Denver Relays on Saturday.
Rogers came out to visit a friend who moved to Grand Junction, met a girl and decided to move to River City.
“I didn’t come here with the goal of swimming,” he said. “I enrolled in school, found out they had a men’s team in its first year. I decided ‘let’s give it a try.’ “
The 23-year-old from Aiken, S.C., admitted he joined the team out of shape, but is motivated to compete to make him a better coach one day. He swims the individual medley and breaststroke.
“I want to coach and competing in college adds clout to what I say,” Rogers said. “Hopefully, I’ll get down to where I was. If I go beyond that, it will be amazing.”
Hogan, 18, of Crystal Lake, Ill., wanted to go to college in Colorado.
“I’ve been coming here with family skiing since I was 4 years old,” she said. “I wanted to swim, but I didn’t want to go Division I.”
Hogan received some athletic scholarship money, making it an easy choice.
“That’s what brought me here,” she said. “I like it here. I don’t want to leave Colorado. I love snowboarding.”
The middle-distance freestyler is one of eight freshmen on a Mesa team with 11 returning swimmers from last year’s RMAC runner-up, including 200-yard individual medley RMAC champion Katie Wedel. The others are Jessica Cort, Denby Gardiner, Sarah Hagerstrom, Gina Panacci, Madeline Morris, Kristen Peterson, Alex Delegeane, Brittany Linder, Jaclyn and Jordan McMillen.
Megan Takakura and Karoline Fry return, but are redshirting this year with knee and shoulder injuries, respectively.
“We have six or seven swimmers faster than our second person last year,” Mesa State coach Brian Pearson said. “Katie was overlooked a bit (on the RMAC preseason team), but I’m confident she’ll be one of the top swimmers in the RMAC.”
Freshmen Rebecca Reed, Rachel Bailey, Samantha Bright and Danielle Shabelski could make significant contributions as well.
The women are picked to finish third, but Pearson believes they can compete for the title with freshman divers Annie Rhoades and Kaci Winemiller.
“It will be a barn-burner,” Pearson said. “If we can keep Annie Rhoades on board, we have a legitimate shot. It will come down to relays and depth. If we’re third with lifetime bests, so be it.”
The men are picked to finish last in the RMAC by the coaches, but Pearson is confident they can do better, even with 21 freshmen on the 25-man roster.
“The men are a work in progress,” he said. “There are several other guys with untapped talents.
“I think we can make a run for third. I think we can give Texas-Permian Basin a run and, because of our depth, can beat Grand Canyon.”
Juniors Marshall Thurmon and Randy Fred bring some leadership and experience to the team. They competed in several meets last year as club status.