Commonwealth-bound Eagles set to open season against Patriots

Commonwealth-bound Eagles set to open season against Patriots

Paige McCord Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman men's and women's swim teams opened the 2015-16 regular season on the road as they travel to Williamsburg, Ky. for a showdown with the University of the Cumberlands Patriots at 1 p.m. at the Dinah Taylor Aquatic Center.

Both programs are coming off 2014-15 seasons where the teams competed at the National Championship meets as the Eagles compete in the NCAA's Division II, while the Patriots swim at the NAIA-level.

Last season, Carson-Newman hosted the Cumberlands and won the every event and won the meet by a combined total of 276-125.

"I think they are a strong team. I think they have recruited really well and improved dramatically. Coach Eric Skelly is a great coach and hats off to him," coach Paige McCord said. "For us, we need to just work our game plan, which is have our athletes come in, swim their races well and get confidence so as we go into our mid-season meet at Georgia Tech, we will have the experience under our belt."

The Patriots return Igor Dozortsev who is an NAIA All-American in the 200 Fly, while on the women's side, Cumberlands's leading-returner is Grace Van Ryckeghem who finished third in the 500 Free and is a NAIA All-American.

The Cumberlands's women's team finished fifth at NAIA National Championships and the men's side placed sixth. The meet against Carson-Newman is the first meet of the year for the Patriots.

For the Eagles, McCord highlighted the swims of her entire freshmen class at the Triple Splash. Freshman Olivia Winkler (Marietta, Ga.) won three events on the women's side during the intra-squad meet and Josh Terrell (Lawrence, Ka.), Seth Hughes (Kingston, Tenn.) and Jon Lancaster(Ringgold, Ga.) each won two swims. In total, 13 of the 24 events were won by the freshman class.

"I think the entire team is doing well right now. As far as who is going to beat who, that is not a large focus for us. At this point, we just want the team to do well. Specifically, on the freshmen, they've come in and exceeded expectations already and now will have their first opportunity for them to put it together against the Cumberlands," McCord said.  

The meet with the University of the Cumberlands begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Dinah Taylor Aquatics Center in Williamsburg, Ky.