The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 115 of 155

114 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY MATT CARTER I n 2012, NC State swimming and div- ing coach Braden Holloway took his men's squad to the West Coast, chal- lenging them with an early-season test against Southern Cal. The men did well, but as Holloway also noted, "The men didn't win." This year, Holloway felt that his wom- en's squad was ready for a similar chal- lenge. They went to USC Oct. 16-17 for their own meet against the Trojans, whose women's swimming and diving program finished eighth at the NCAA Champion- ships in 2015. The result? NC State won the head-to- head battle with USC 190-144. The victory underscored a feeling that Holloway has had about his team since last spring: they are close to a breakthrough similar to what the men's program experienced last year when they won the ACC title and finished eighth at the NCAA Championships. Holloway was pleased that his swimmers were a "team" while battling the Trojans in Los Angeles. "I didn't have one girl come over and talk about her individual performance," Hol- loway noted. "They all asked about how many points do we have for the meet. Any time you get people thinking like that, it's definitely great. "I definitely feel they are ready as a group to go to the next level," he continued. "I think that they are understanding more about each individual's role for the team success and how they can maximize that role the best they can to help the team. They started to invest themselves in that role, and I think that's the first step." Last year, NC State capped its second straight top-20 showing at the NCAA Championships with a 17th-place finish. That was the first time since 1982-83 that the Wolfpack had back-to-back top-20 fin- ishes. The objective is higher this year. "Their goal is more focused on NCAA than anything else. We want to be a top-12 team," Holloway said. "And from there, they know the ACC goal is to be top three in the conference." To reach that, Holloway said that the key is more individual scores at the NCAA Championships. The Pack has already built a strong reputation with its relay teams. "It's now maintaining those strong relays, even get a little better on those relays, and having some individuals get some points as well," Holloway stated. He is counting on a solid nucleus of vet- eran swimmers meshing well with some tal- ented newcomers. The returning standouts include senior Riki Bonnema, Holloway's first individual ACC champ on the women's side. She won the 50 freestyle sprint last year at the conference meet and earned All- America honors at the NCAA Champion- ships in the event. Junior Kayla Brumbaum is the school's record holder in the 100 and 200 breast- stroke, and junior Rachel Muller has the best times ever at NCSU in the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyle races. Junior Alexia Zevnik was runner-up at last year's ACC Championships in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, and won three races (100 and 200 back, and 200 individual med- ley) at USC. Senior Ashlyn Koletic, a valu- able member of State's relay teams, won the 100 butterfly at USC. Fifth-year senior Rachel Mumma was an honorable mention All-American in the one-meter dive last year and has posted the best score in school history in the event. She earned a spot on the USA Diving National Team for the 2015 University World Games after finishing fourth in the one-meter com- ■ PREVIEW WOMEN'S SWIMMING Noting The Pack • The Wolfpack had two athletes compete in the 2015 World University Games in July at Gwangju City, South Korea. Fifth-year senior diver Rachel Mumma was third in the one-meter dive after the prelims, and then she finished second in the semi- finals to advance to the finals. She concluded the competition in eighth and was the lone Team USA representative at that round. Junior swimmer Lotta Nevalainen, a native of Finland, represented her country in four events: the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter backstroke. • NC State selected its team captains in May. Representing the women's side are juniors Natalie Labonge, Lydia Jones and Alexia Zevnik. RISING UP The Wolfpack Is Ready To Take Next Step Senior Riki Bonnema holds the ACC record in the 50 freestyle and was an All-American in the event at the NCAA Championships. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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