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Hawkeyes exceed season-opener expectations

BY SHELBY STITES | OCTOBER 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Hawkeyes entered their season on Oct. 3 with a clean slate and new opportunities. A day later, they came out of the pool 1-1 in Big Ten competition and had exceeded expectations.

“Whenever you get a win over a Big Ten team, it is a good thing,” head coach Marc Long said after the Oct. 4 competition. “Michigan handled us well, but we had some good swims. The win over Nebraska is outstanding; we are happy about that.”

Iowa topped Nebraska in the season-opening double dual by scoring 191 points to Nebraska’s 109. Michigan was able to outscore Hawkeyes 188.5-105.5.

Michigan was the heavy favorite coming into Iowa City. The Wolverines earned a first-place finish in 15 of the 21 swimming and diving events.

With that said, it was a race for second place. The Hawkeyes placed second 10 out of the 15 times Michigan finished first.

These second-place finishes were in result of the freshmen on this young Iowa team stepping up and proving themselves in the water.

“I’m just really happy seeing all the freshmen perform well,” senior captain Becky Stoughton said. “They surpassed my expectations, and I thought it was a great way to start out.”

For Long, it was exciting to see eight lanes of competitive swimmers racing for the finish. But all in all, he was able to see his freshmen race, because this will prepare them for the end of the year.

“We are facing some of the top teams in the country, and that is perfect, that is what we need to see,” Long said. “You’ve got to be on your A game.”

Sophomore Emma Sougstad proved why she belongs in the water by surpassing one of her own Big Ten times, and she is well on her way to eclipsing her personal goals.

However, the fun seemed to slow down before Sougstad entered her 200 individual-medley heat. Tears rolled down her face before she began her least-favorite competition.

“I just have a wall up against it and I cry every time before it,” Sougstad said. “I swam really awful in it at Big Tens last year, and ever since then, I have been trying to get back into it.”

But after she was the last out of the pool, she was met with the comfort of her teammates. This seems to be the contributing factor to the Hawkeyes success: a strong team bond.

“It is really exciting because we all just came together and raced,” Sougstad said about her 400-medley relay team. “I think it has a really good shot at making NCAAs.”

If anything was proven this weekend it came from the success of the freshmen swimmers. They are a part of Long’s rebuilding process in order to prepare for the months ahead.

“With all of these young swimmers we saw sparks, we have a lot of development that still needs to happen,” Long said. “We see some things that we obviously need to work on, but it is a proud group of competitors we’ve got.

“We want to get better and we will.”

Follow @shelbystites on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team.


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