MIAC sports roundup, St. Thomas teams prepare for important weekend


Several St. Thomas teams prepare for crucial away games

The No. 10-ranked women’s basketball team (28-1) will face Tufts College (23-6) in an NCAA Sweet 16 playoff game Friday at the University of Chicago. If the Tommies win, they will play the winner of the University of Chicago versus Calvin College game Saturday night.

Sophomore forward Taylor Young, who leads the team in scoring with a 13.1 point average, said she is excited for her team’s “huge opportunity” this weekend.

“It’s great that we get to prolong our season together a little longer,” Young said.

Men’s hockey squares off against St. Norbert College

After receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the men’s hockey team (18-5-2) faces off against St. Norbert College (17-5-5) Wednesday night. The winner will play Saturday in the national quarterfinal game against the winner of the Gustavus Adolphus College versus Milwaukee School of Engineering game.

Senior forward Robby Philipp said his team’s focus is solely on St. Norbert.

“We are preparing for a tough game and making sure from a system’s standpoint that we are prepared,” Philipp said.

Swimmers and divers look to make a splash at nationals

The NCAA released its list of swimmers and divers who qualified for the national meet, which will be held March 21-24 in Indianapolis.

The Tommies will be sending two relays to the national meet: the women’s 400 medley relay of sophomore Erin Hogan, freshman Mariann Kukielka, freshman Emily Punyko and sophomore Hayley Trace; and the men’s 400 freestyle relay of sophomore Ben Henrickson, junior Michael Hoelterhoff, sophomore Max Hubbard and junior Sam Rauchwarter.

Punyko also qualified in the 100 breaststroke. She is the sole Tommie swimmer to qualify in an individual event.

Two Tommie divers, senior Jennifer Easton and sophomore Nick Johnson, will also be competing at the national meet. Easton placed third in the one-meter dive last year at nationals.

Rauchwarter, who anchored the men’s relay at the conference meet, said he hopes he and his teammates can place better than their No.13-ranking.

“There are a lot of fast swimmers at nationals; we have to prepare to be just as fast or faster than them,” Rauchwarter said. “We have been practicing hard the past couple of weeks and are continuing to improve our endurance for our races. In addition to the physical aspect, we also have been working on preparing mentally.”

Track and field athletes race to nationals

Several St. Thomas athletes will be competing this Friday and Saturday at the indoor national track and field meet in Grinnell, Iowa.

For the men’s team, junior Cody Jerabek qualified in the 60m dash, senior Mike Hutton qualified in the 800m run and is seeded second overall in the event, senior Ben Sathre is seeded third overall in the 5000m run, junior Eyo Ekpo will compete in both the high jump and the triple jump, and junior Gavin Yseth and sophomore Maxwell Dunne qualified for the heptathlon.

The women’s team will send its distance medley relay of freshman Kayla Goeman, sophomore Emily Van Heel, senior Larissa Peyton and junior Taylor Berg. Van Heel will also compete in the triple jump.

Ekpo said he is feeling “a mix of anxiety and nerves” going into the meet because the men’s team has potential to place in the top 10 for team scoring.

“With all the work the six of us (guys) have put in and the support of our teammates and coaches, we know how potentially successful this weekend can be,” Ekpo said.

Baseball takes on No.6-ranked Warhawks

The baseball team (3-1) will play a doubleheader against UW-Whitewater Thursday at the Metrodome. The Tommies, who split their last doubleheader against UW-LaCrosse, are ranked No. 25 and the Warhawks are ranked No. 6 in a D3baseball.com poll.

Junior pitcher Dylan Thomas believes the Warhawks will provide a “tough test” for his team this early in the season but thinks the Tommies will have a slight advantage having practiced and played in the Metrodome several times.

“We have started hitting well as of late, and our pitching will get us deep into games. The games against Whitewater will be tough but a great series,” Thomas said.

Tommie tennis takes on the Pipers

Both the men and women’s tennis teams have matches against Hamline University Saturday. Both Tommie tennis teams are 3-0 in conference matches this season. Sophomore Rachel Wright said the team is looking forward to continuing its undefeated conference streak.

“I am preparing for Hamline by focusing on the consistency of my ground strokes and serves,” Wright said. “(This) is a conference match for us, so it is important that we do well.”

Hayley Schnell can be reached at schn3912@stthomas.edu.