CLEVELAND, Ohio – Fresh off of a season that saw nine program records re-written, the Case Western Reserve University women's swimming & diving program is geared up for a new level of success during the winter of 2011-12.
The Spartans improved a spot (to sixth) in the University Athletic Association standings last season and set seven school records at the conference championship meet. The team also produced four NCAA "B" cut qualifying marks at the championship.
"The most important aspect this season is to keep improving," said second-year head coach Doug Milliken. "We made some nice strides last year and surprised some people. We want to keep that momentum going, and with that will come higher expectations and loftier goals. If the team works hard, which I have no doubt about, they will be able to accomplish what they have set out to achieve."
Under the tutelage of Milliken, the Spartan women roll out a roster of experienced veterans with championship experience and a number of talented youngsters.
Despite the graduation of several key scorers from last year's squad, Milliken is confident in the leadership that his current senior class will provide.
"This group has seen the program go through a transition and has had to adapt to a lot of changes," noted Milliken. "With that being said, they have never wavered, they have never complained, all they have done is go out and work like crazy to make themselves better and their teammates better. We are fortunate to have a tremendously talented group of women who mean a lot to me as their coach because I know that I can always count on them -- whether it is to push a teammate, to win an event, or to be the leader helping to take this program to the next level."
Stephanie Campbell (Highland Heights, Ohio/Mayfield) leads the Spartan senior class along with Lucy Bollinger (Boulder, Colo./Fairview), Taylor Dorsey (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West), Jessica Nuhfer (Warren, Pa./Warren Area) and Laura Thompson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon).
Campbell set two individual school records at the UAA Championship Meet in the 100-yard backstroke (59.25) and 200 back (2:09.11) and was a member of the record-setting 200 and 400 medley relay teams – each quartet hit NCAA "B" cuts. Campbell also swam a leg on the All-UAA 200-yard freestyle relay in 2010.
Dillione set three school records as a freshman, including the 100 fly (57.41) and 200 fly (2:06.07) at the season-ending Midwest Invitational and the 200 individual medley (2:10.96) at the UAA Championship Meet. Also a two-event "B" cut qualifier, Dillione swam a leg on the school record-setting 200 and 400 medley relays at UAAs and earned individual All-UAA honors with a runner-up finish in the 100 fly and a third-place finish in the 200 fly. She was a two-time UAA Athlete of the Week and the recipient of the CWRU Nancy Gray Rookie of the Year award.
"Maggie is one of those student-athletes that any coach would love to have on their team," said Milliken. "She is hard-working, energetic, supportive of teammates, and holds herself to a high standard. She is someone that I know we can always count on to give it her all. Maggie has placed very high expectations upon herself, whether it's winning an individual conference championship or making the NCAA meet. I expect her to keep performing at her best, and the rest will take care of itself."
Tillie hit her own provisional qualifying mark of 4:36.69 in the 400-yard individual medley and was a member of the school-record 200 medley relay. Tillie also posted team-best times in the 1,650 freestyle (18:16.22), 500 free (5:11.27) and 1,000 free (11:02.53). In addition, she swam a leg on both the 400 medley relay and 400 free relay that hit NCAA "B" cuts.
Case's junior class consists of three letterwinners in Sarah Greenlee (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township), Krysta Payne (Ligonier, Pa./Ligonier Valley) and Brittany Sussman (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont).
Milliken also returns five additional sophomores that lettered as freshmen in 2010-11, including Hannah Altman-Kurosaki (New York, N.Y./Fiorello H. LaGuardia), Alison Brooks (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central), Catherine Gormley (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton), Kathryn Madalena (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side) and Kristen McKee (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson).
"We are fortunate to have a lot of women on the team that are self-motivated student-athletes who tasted some success last season and now want more," said Milliken. "It's exciting to have so many women with the same competitive spirit."
Milliken is also excited about bringing a large freshman class into the mix – his first complete recruiting class at CWRU.
"I have a lot of expectations for this group of newcomers," noted the head coach. "Overall, there is a ton of talent and potential, but the quality I like the most is their work ethic. They are an energetic group that comes to practice, does what we ask of them, and works every day to get better. We will be counting on them a lot in big spots to come through for us. They will be a lot of fun to work with and to watch develop over their careers. I am extremely excited for them."
The Spartans open the 2011-12 campaign in quad meet action with UAA foes New York University, Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) and host University of Rochester (N.Y.) on Friday-Saturday, October 28-29. Action is slated to begin on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
The squad's first home action will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 11-12, with the annual Veale Classic Duals at Veale Natatorium.