Daily Egyptian

Restless Salukis stay afloat

By Aaron Graff

The swimming and diving teams had their final non-conference meet Monday in Champaign against the University of Illinois and Olivet Nazarene University.

SIU came off a meet two days prior, but that did not stop both teams from beating Olivet 198-94 for the women and 147-133 for the men. However, the Saluki women fell 199.5- 96.5 to Illinois.

Coach Rick Walker said the team struggled the first half of the meet.

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“We walked into the pool pretty worn out,” he said. “It showed right off the bat. Both our men and women came out of the gate really stale.”

Walker said the Fighting Illini coach indicated her team would be worn out. However, he said that was not the case with Olivet, as looked well prepared and fresh for the meet.

The University of Illinois does not have a men’s team, so SIU’s men were only facing Olivet, and senior George Minkel said he did not expect the meet to be so close.

“Honestly, at first no one really thought anything about them because they’re a smaller school,” he said. “We didn’t give ourselves a chance to compete as we should have.”

Minkel said the Salukis have gone into meets with a loosing mentality and lost because of it.

Walker said the meet came down to the final men’s race.

“We had to win the relay to win the meet,” he said.

Walker said he was disappointed with the start of the meet, but was proud of the men getting themselves back into the meet.

Minkel said his shoulders are the sorest part of his body, but it is not an excuse.

“Swimming is such a shoulder-heavy sport,” he said. “But I’m sure a lot of people are just as tired or even more tired than I am.”

Senior diver Brittany Weigel said she felt good, given the circumstances.

“Any athlete is sore all the time,” she said.

Weigel said diving uses the legs more and are a common part of the body to get sore for divers, but she still feels okay for the rest of the season.

“Diving is a little bit different than swimming,” she said. “We don’t have the endurance with the arms but our main thing is our legs get tired.”

Senior Pamela Benitez said this meet was another fun challenge and she wants to do well in her last conference championship meet in February.

“Right now, I’m focusing more on conference,” she said.

Benitez said she wants to do well in her final meets as a Saluki and the team has been working hard all season. She said she likes SIU’s chances at the conference tournament.

“Whatever the results are, I know that everyone worked pretty hard for that,” she said. “I’m really confident about the team doing its best job.”

The Salukis have a week off before hosting their final regular season meet on Feb. 1 against the University of Evansville.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected] dailyegyptian.com, on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE, or 536-3311 ext. 269.

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