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Iowa looks to earn first Big Ten meet of the season

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | OCTOBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s swimming and diving team will try to earn its first Big Ten victory of the season when it hosts Michigan State today.

The meet will also feature Northern Iowa. It will be the first home meet of the season for Iowa, as well as the first action the team has seen since it hosted the annual intrasquad scrimmage Oct. 11.

“It’s a Big Ten team, so there’s obviously a lot of talent on the roster,” head coach Marc Long said. “The entire conference top-to-bottom is solid, so we know they’re going to come in well-coached and ready to compete.”

While the Black and Gold roster is stacked with talent, the Hawks also have one of the youngest teams in the conference.

“It’s a young team,” Long said. “We’ve got a real young group, and even though it’s an early meet for both teams, we’re really ready to race.”

Young is an understatement. The men’s roster features 11 true freshmen who will swim in their first home meet as Hawkeyes. They will be led by first-year standout Nick Zito, who was recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after a strong showing against Michigan.

The Hawks have something of a hot streak going when it comes to meets. Going back to the 2008-09 season, the Hawkeyes have been dominant, posting an overall record of 38-8. While the team will certainly try to improve on that, it knows the importance of blocking out the expectations and focusing on themselves.

“We really don’t like to put expectations and added pressure on ourselves,” senior Gianni Sesto said. “When you do that, it just limits the potential that we have, but we realize that there are high expectations. Obviously, it’s a deep conference, so we’re going to have to come ready to make an impact.”

Iowa is currently ranked No. 20 in the country, and even though Michigan State is not ranked, Sesto knows that they must take every opponent serious regardless of rank.

“To go in and race against these opponents, you really have to take everyone seriously,” Sesto said. “You can’t overlook anything. Just because they aren’t ranked, you can’t take them lightly.”

While the team is young, it also has an excellent group of juniors and seniors who are striving to start their final seasons at Iowa on the right foot.

Junior Grant Betulius and senior Andrew Marciniak both earned All-American recognition last season and were also part of the relay team that broke a world record in the 200 short-course mixed medley relay at Michigan.

“Coming off of Michigan and the intrasquad, I really think we just need to do the little things right to be successful,” senior Tyler Lentz said. “Working on turns and working on starts or other things that we may not have done as well against Michigan are things we can work on.”


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