The St. Cloud State swimming and diving teams qualified 12 swimmers and divers to this year’s Division II National Championships in Geneva, Ohio.
Six divers qualified for the Huskies in Tyler Magalis, Aaron Rooney and David Sufficool for the men and Tori Raihle, Emily McIntire and Mary Woodson for the women.
The diving competition begins on Tuesday night. The top 18 men’s divers and the top 22 women’s divers from the prelimaries advance to the finals later in the week.
Swimming competition begins on Wednesday night and runs through Saturday.
Alex Bryson (500, 1,000 and 5,000 freestyle) and Jake Stoll (50, 100 free) qualified for the men. Erin Hart (100 backstroke, 200 medley relay), Kelsey Leeson (200 medley relay), Lindsey Mikrut (200 medley relay) and Abby Rasmussen (200 medley relay) all qualified for the women.
St. Cloud State head coach Jeff Hegle said it was harder this year than ever to qualify for nationals.
“Over the course of the last four or five years, Division II swimming has gotten remarkably faster,” Hegle said. “Our men’s 200 relay time this year would have won them a national title six years ago. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in international students swimming at the D-II level. That’s made a big difference.
“The rest of the country got a lot faster this year and that made it more difficult to qualify than ever.”
Stoll and Bryson have both been to nationals before. Hegle thinks both have a legit shot to get to All-American status, which is a top-eight finish.
“They have legit shots to score,” Hegle said. “Jake is seeded eighth in the 50 and ninth in the 100. Alex is in the top eight in the 500 and 1,000. I think they’ll score some points for us.”
The 200 medley relay team of Hart, Leeson, Mikrut and Rasmussen has been solid all season. The team will also have a chance to score points in the 400 medley relay. Mikrut is the only swimmer who hasn’t been to the national meet before.
“We think they have a good shot to get in the top eight for both,” Hegle said. “They’ve put together good times. If they keep swimming like they have been, they’ll do some good things.”
Hegle is hoping for a top 15 finish as a team for both the men and women.
“With the number of kids we have this year, a top 15 finish for both would be great,” he said.
Follow Andy Rennecke on Twitter @AndyRennecke.