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Cougar’s Swimming and Diving split in Iowa

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's swim and dive team began its season in earnest this past weekend by traveling to Iowa to compete in the 2013 Mustang Women's Challenge against Division-II Northern State University and host Morningside College.

Despite facing a pair of foes that have been training a month longer than the Cougars, the UMM swimmers competed gamely and were able to defeat rival Morningside by a score of 203-168. Making that victory even more impressive was the fact that Morris was without the services of four swimmers, including captain Andee Quast and top performer Courtney Kahnk.

Sophomore Kaitlin Kamm had a solid meet, winning both the 50 yard (25.68) and 100 yard (56.29) freestyle events. Junior Natalie Reynen showed that she is ready to step up this season, posting a solid 26.49 in the 50 freestyle, good for 3rd place, and a 59.33 in the 100 freestyle, good for 4th place.

Distance stalwart and captain Kayla Gastecki displayed a lot of grit, competing individually in the grueling 1650 yard freestyle, 200 yard individual medley and 500 yard freestyle events.  Also, to help fill the void left by Quast's absence, Gastecki stepped in to compete in the 100 yard breaststroke. While perhaps not swimming up to her high standards, Gastecki demonstrated her value to the team by being the Cougars' top finisher in each of her four individual events.

With the season just getting underway and a number of new swimmers competing in their first official collegiate meet, Morris' relay performances were understandably uneven.  At the end of day one, the top two Cougars' 400 yard freestyle relay teams were disqualified, costing the Cougars valuable points and causing them to end the day behind Morningside 82-78. Day two kicked off with the 200 yard medley relay, and the team of Kamm, senior Sarah Dens, and freshman Hanna Gasaway and Tori Brua took fourth place, about a second behind Morningside College.  However, in the final event of the meet, the 200 yard freestyle relay, Brua, Dens, Reynen and Kamm flashed signs of the Cougars' relay potential, defeating every team in the pool with a winning time of 1:45.33.

Cougar head coach Dave Molesworth saw a number of positives in Morris' performance, including some encouraging swims by freshman Jill Burns in the 1000 and 1650 yard freestyles, despite a nagging hamstring injury. Molesworth was also pleased with the early-season performances of freshmen Kayla Kranitz and Gasaway, who are being asked to compete in new and different events.  It was the way the team came together and supported each other in Iowa that most pleased the head coach.  "Heading into the meet I was hoping to see some good stroke improvements and see the team getting behind each other like a team. I liked the way the team really supported each other.  We were missing four athletes, which changed the complexity of the meet both in individual events as well as relays, but at the same time it also shows me the team character by seeing who will step up and rise to the occasion to fill in for some of our athletes being out."­­­