IN 2015-16: The women placed seventh of 10 teams, and the men finished in seventh of eight at the four-day Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Senior Hannah Mattar was the lone Eagle to qualify for nationals.
2016-17 OUTLOOK: The men and women, featuring one senior apiece, will look to the fill the shoes of seven swimmers who graduated in May.
The Ashland University men's and women's swim teams began their 2016-17 seasons Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference quad-meet at home featuring a new head coach, two seniors, 10 juniors, 12 sophomores and six freshmen.
"You don't know what you're getting until you're somewhere for a while," first-year head coach Ron Allen said. "What I've been doing is picking the captains, the upperclassmen and (assistant coach Samantha Palma's) brain like crazy."
Allen arrived on campus to take over as head coach on Sept. 26, four days before the first meet. He comes to Ashland with a collegiate coaching resume that dates back to 1990.
"I know I'm going to end up changing some things," Allen said. "But it isn't my goal to come in and change everything.
"I hesitate to put a star swimmer out there right now. But if you look on paper with times and who was close to national cuts last year, it's obvious that there's a couple studs in there that are hoping to go to nationals."
In 2015-16, now-junior Ryan Deemer won a bronze medal in the 1,650-yard freestyle and placed ninth in the 500 free at the GLIAC Championships, reaching the nationals "B" cut in both events with times of 15:58.98 and 4:36.79, respectively. Deemer also was the 2014-15 GLIAC Freshman of the Year, as he won the 500 free and the 1,000 free at the 2014 GLIAC Championships.
The women's 200 free relay also won bronze at GLIACs, and achieved a "B" cut time of 4:26.32 with only one senior. Current senior Megan Schutlz, junior Grace Reichard and sophomore Julia Grady are the returners from that team.
In 2014-15, Reichard won a GLIAC title as a freshman in the 200 free.
"I'm seeing a couple of key men and women that have raw power, but their technique is lacking," said Allen. "And if we can work on their technique over the next couple of months and get over that hump, they have potential. I see some raw talent here that can go far."
In the first meet, the men placed second, and the women placed third. In the 42 heats, the two teams combined for three second-place finishes and five third-place finishes.
"I only got to work with them for four days before the meet," Allen said. "And what I saw in practice was pretty rough. But when I was watching them race in the meet, I got to see that raw power."
Deemer placed third in the 1,000 free. Men's freshman Charles Sutton recorded third-place finishes in the 100 free and 100 butterfly.
Junior Zoe Scarpone placed second in the 100 fly, which would be the Eagles' only top-two performance by an individual at the quad-meet. She also placed third in the 200 individual medley.
Two men's relay teams had top finishes in the season opener. One placed third in the 200 medley, and one placed second in the 200 free. Of the women's relay teams, only the 200 free had a top-three finish, as they came in second.
"There were a couple of them that their strength and power in the water was more than I thought," Allen said. "But it's unrefined. If we can refine it, they're going to go far."
Ashland's next meet is also at home at the Messerly Natatorium at 1 p.m. on Oct. 22, as the Eagles welcome the Findlay Oilers. Their final two home meets are Nov. 18-19 and Jan. 14.
"I want to bring Ashland swimming and diving back up to where it was in the 90's and early 2000's," Allen said. "It was a powerhouse in Division II."
This year's swim season will extend through March 11 for any Eagles who reach the NCAA Division II Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The GLIAC Championships will take place in Saginaw, Mich. from Feb. 8-11.