18 NMU swimmers, divers going to NCAAs


By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — Eighteen swimmers and divers from the men’s and women’s teams at Northern Michigan University will take part in the NCAA Division II Swim & Dive Championships.

The meet, March 13-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina, will include nine men and nine women from NMU.

A number of swimmers from both Northern teams may end up racing nine times, four in individual events and possibly in all five of the meet’s relays.

They include sophomore Rachel Helm on the women’s side. Northern’s first national champion since 1999 in last year’s 100-yard backstroke, Helm returns to defend her title in that event, where she is ranked third this season.

The GLIAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year also is No. 1 in the country in the 200 back, 11th in the 200 individual medley and is qualified for the 100 butterfly. She won four events at the GLIACs.

Freshman Gabriella Spajic is another four-event qualifier. Along with qualifying in the 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle, she is ranked 12th in the 200 fly and 14th in the 400 IM.

Freshman Lena Soulas will compete in the 50, 100 and 200 free; junior Regan Kilburn in the 100 and 200 back; and freshman Katharina Springhetti in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

Kilburn ranks 14th in the 200 back and 15th in the 100 back, while Soulas won the GLIAC meet’s 100 free and Springhetti did the same in the 100 breast.

Helm, Spajic, Soulas Kilburn, freshman Margaret Vaitkus, sophomore Madelyn Irelan and junior Dana Stroven are available to compete in all five relays at nationals.

The Wildcats’ 200 medley relay is ranked 10th and 400 medley relay is 11th. Other relays they’ll compete in are the 200, 400 and 800 free.

Northern sophomore diver Jamie Kimble is also qualfied.

From the NMU men’s team, sophomore Lajos Budai and junior Ryan Leonard each have qualfied for four events.

Budai goes in the 50, 100 and 200 free and 100 back. Nationally, he ranks fifth in the 100 free and seventh in the 100 back as he won both events at the GLIAC meet.

Leonard qualified in the 200 and 400 IMs, ranking sixth in the 200 that he won at the GLIACs, along with the 200 fly and the 200 back.

The cowinner of the GLIAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year, NMU junior Grantas Dapkus will swim the 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free after he won the 500 and 1,000 at the GLIAC meet.

Junior David Miranda will compete in the 200 fly, which he won at the GLIACs, 1,000 free and 400 IM.

Junior Renars Bundzis qualified in the 200 back, where he’s No. 2 nationally, 100 back at No. 12 and 200 IM. He won the 200 back at the GLIAC meet.

Sophomore Jonas Reinhold and junior Arnoldo Herrera are available for relay races at the nationals. Northern’s 800 free relay is ranked 12th nationally and won three straight GLIAC titles, while the 400 free relay also qualified. Due to the men’s team placing four swimmers in individual races, NMU will be able to compete in all five relays in North Carolina.

A pair of Wildcat divers, junior Kyle Flickinger of Brimley and junior Charlie Pavlak, are also qualified.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.