Salukis restock for another title run

By Gus Bode

SIU women’s swimming and diving team hopes to overcome personnel losses to win sixth straight conference championship

Last season, the SIU women’s swimming and diving team had a dream season that ended in the Salukis winning their fifth straight Missouri Valley Conference Championship and the school’s seventh in the last eight years.

SIU head coach Jeff Goelz said last season’s win was especially sweet because he believed his squad had to fight harder to stay on top than in previous years.


On paper, I really thought that Evansville was the team to beat, and when they did the pre-meet poll, we had 32 votes and they had 31 votes, Goelz said. A lot of people thought that meet would be a lot closer than it was, and that just tells you a little bit about what these girls are capable of.

When all was said and done, the Salukis had cruised to an 833-705.5 victory over the Purple Aces. Rounding out the scores were Southwest Missouri State (622), Illinois State (540), Northern Iowa (382.5) and Bradley (188).

Winners for the Salukis were departed senior Brooke Radostits, winning both the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes for the fourth straight year; junior-to-be Brigitta Olson, taking the 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly; and Leane Pienaar, who left SIU to return to South Africa, winning the 500 and 1650 freestyle.

Two of the Salukis’ relay teams also took home titles with the 400 freestyle team of Radostits, Courtney Corder, Rachel Green and Jenna Meckler and the 800 freestyle team of Olson, Amber Mullins, Dana Morrell and Ashley MacCurdy bringing home titles.

After the meet, Olson, who along with Mullins will be a co-captain this upcoming season, was very emotional.

This is probably the most amazing moment for me ever, Olson said after last season’s MVC Championships. This is more than I ever expected of college swimming. This is probably my favorite swimming moment ever right here, right now.

Now, with February’s championship meet a distant memory, the Salukis have the difficult task of replacing an eight-person senior class.


Gone after four years of productivity are Corder, Meckler, Morrell, Radostits, Breanne Hay, Carly Hemphill, Caty Kinnaman, Adie Neal and Mary Trailov.

Goelz knows this group is going to be hard to replace, not only in the pool, but out of it as well.

It’s going to be really hard, Goelz said. It’s hard not only from the swimming standpoint, but from the maturity level. I’ve got a great group of incoming freshmen and transfer kids, don’t get me wrong, but they’re untested. They’re not veterans.

The incoming freshmen are Briley Bergen (Jacksonville, Fla.), Melissa Hanson (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Kelsey Kinsella (Gridley), Elizabeth McGowan (Fort Worth, Texas) and Megan Simms (Phoenix, Ariz.). Also coming in is transfer student Suzanne Souders (Belleville), who comes from the University of Minnesota after just her freshman season.

Goelz is hopeful that his newcomers will mix with his returning girls to make an immediate impact.

But if they need some time, Goelz is OK with that.

The Salukis will have just two seniors next season in Mullins and Amy Legner meaning the team has time to grow together.

We’ve got a ton of talent, Goelz said. It’s just going to be a matter of getting that talent to work together and give those new people the kind of focus to come in as freshmen and make a commitment and make a splash right away. We need those people to come in and mature instantly, which may or may not happen.