Nov. 2, 2006
By Matt Crouch
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University men's and women's swimming & diving teams return to action this weekend at the Missouri Dual Challenge at the University of Missouri.
Both Saluki squads are currently 3-0 in dual meet competition, but the Missouri Dual Challenge offers a different kind of format as five teams come together for competition.
"Each meet has a different format, different events against a different team. It's kind of luck of the draw as to who you get, what your strengths are, and what their strengths are. You can only hope that you match up and your strengths are going to overcome the strengths of your opponent.," said SIU head coach Rick Walker.
The Salukis open up action in the meet at 5 p.m., Friday Nov. 3 against Iowa and host Missouri. Action will continue Saturday morning with SIU taking on Louisville before going heads-up against Drury.
The three-day meet will conclude Sunday at 9 a.m. with all five teams competing in an "invitational format."
"It's going to be fun and it's going to be very fast because the events will go by just like that. The meets won't last very long and it will be difficult because they have to shift their focus as our staff does, all within a matter of hours. So, you have to prepare for the next meet as soon as you get done," said Walker.
"If you get a victory, that's fine but you are not going to have time to enjoy a victory or wallow in your sorrow because you got beat because you've got another meet coming and nobody is waiting on you. So, it's very good, it's a good experience for your kids and will benefit us, not only for the Northwestern meet but also come conference time.
The meet should prove to be a tough test for both squads. Missouri is ranked No. 25 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) top 25 poll while Louisville is receiving votes.
"On paper, as I look on the women's side, Missouri, who is ranked, obviously is going to be a tough one. Iowa, we match up with on a couple events, but we've got to match up with on a couple more if we want to beat them. Louisville is very tough on the women and Drury we have beaten, so I think that is a team we can beat," said Walker.
For the men, the Salukis should come in as a favorite as it is the only one of the teams in the field receiving votes in the top 25 poll.
"On the guy's side Missouri is very good in some areas and Iowa is very good in the other areas. We happen to be swimming them in the same meet. So, I can't set a lineup for Missouri and expect that Iowa is going to just lay back. We are now having to devise a strategy so as to compensate for both team's strengths. But, they are in the same situation. Iowa could turn around and beat Missouri because Missouri concentrated too much on us and they don't want to see that happen," said Walker.
"Drury, we have beaten, but with the order of events that we drew against Drury, it is going to be a very tough meet. Louisville is very good, they have the fourth-fastest 200 butterflier in the country, so they obviously have some high-caliber athletes. We're looking for a tough meet."
On the whole, though, Walker is excited about the tea's progression. The Salukis dominated in their first three meets of the season and have had an extra week of practice in preparation for the Missouri Dual Challenge.
"Practice has been going very good. I've been very pleased. We really haven't let up on them with the exception of maybe today (Thursday). So, I expect to see good things as I have in the previous weekends."
Action kicks off at the MIssouri Dual Challenge at 5 p.m., Friday at the Mizzou Aquatic Center and will continue through the weekend.