Buckeyes Open Season at Kentucky

Oct. 10, 2013


COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State women’s swimming and diving team will open the 2013-14 season with a road dual meet at Kentucky at 5 p.m. Friday. The Buckeyes are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships and return four 2013 NCAA qualifiers.

“I think it’s a good chance to see where we are right now from a training and racing standpoint,” Ohio State head coach Bill Dorenkott said. “This is the earliest we’ve had a dual meet in the six years I’ve been at Ohio State, maybe even the 23 years I’ve been coaching. It’s forced us to be a little more aggressive this fall in terms of training. I’m looking forward to going down there and racing.”

Justin Sochor was named head coach of the Ohio State diving team. Sochor, who was head coach for Team USA at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, this past summer is no stranger to the remarkable Buckeye diving program.

The 2010 USA Diving Junior National Coach of the Year, Sochor transitioned from a three-year stint at the helm of the U.S. Elite Diving Academy to the program manager and head coach of the Ohio State Diving Club in 2010. Sochor, who was a volunteer assistant coach for the Buckeyes from 2007-10, worked closely with former coach Vince Panzano and considers his predecessor as his coaching mentor.

"Mike Peppe, Ron O'Brien and Vince Panzano. For more than 80 years, these three men have created the finest diving community for student-athletes to achieve their highest level of success personally, competitively and academically," Sochor said. "These coaches have inspired me to continue the tradition of excellence at this great university. I am truly honored and humbled to step forward as the fourth head diving coach of the Buckeyes."

Most recently, Sochor led the Ohio State Diving Club to back-to-back overall national titles at the 2013 USA Diving Junior National Championships Aug. 10 in Minneapolis, Minn. The OSU boys club also claimed a national championship.

After five years at the helm of the Ohio State women's swimming program, Bill Dorenkott accepted a five-year contract extension this summer. Announced in late July, the revamped deal will run though 2018.

Under the steady leadership of Dorenkott, the women's swimming program has solidified a foundation for future success. In just his second season in Columbus, the team finished fifth at the Big Ten championships. The Top 5 effort represents the highest finish for the program in 13 years. In 2011 and 2012, the progression of the program only continued as the Scarlet and Gray concluded each season in the Top 3 in the conference.

The Buckeyes have been busy this off season. To start things off, Kelly Ann Baird, Alex Norris and Michelle Williams traveled to North Carolina for the fifth stop of the Arena Grand Prix Series. At the meet, Baird finished 15th in the 800 freestyle and 28th in the 400 freestyle. Norris also had a strong showing, placing 14th in the 200 freestyle and 16th in the 400 freestyle. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Williams took 22nd in the 50 freestyle.

Norris and teammate Kristyn Fulcher then went on to represent Ohio State at the Phillips 66 National Championships & World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, Ind. In the 400 freestyle, Norris touched 23rd. She also competed in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 32nd-place. Fulcher, a junior this season, earned 26th-place in the 400 individual medley.

The spotlight then turned to Williams as she had a breakout weekend at the Canadian World Championship Trials. A two-time All-Big Ten selection and NCAA qualifier, Williams finished seventh in the 100 freestyle after qualifying for fifth in the heat. She then placed sixth in the 50 freestyle with a personal-best time of 25.90 - marking the first time the Buckeye has cracked 26 seconds.

Members of the squad next invaded Oxford, Ohio for the central zone, sectional three leg of the USA Swimming Speedo Champions Series. Competing alongside the Ohio State University Swim Club as well as the Buckeye men’s team, Ohio State took third with 918 total points. Earning wins for the Buckeye women were Norris, Katy Luchansky, Aliena Schmidtke and Camey Rabold.

The team rounded out the summer with the U.S. Open Swimming Championships in Irving, Calif. Overall, the Scarlet and Gray took 11th with 83 total points. The ranking was the fourth among Big Ten contingents at the meet.

Eight home events are on slate to take place at Bill & Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion this season, including the Scarlet and Gray exhibition Oct. 18.

The exhibition is followed by a co-ed dual with Kenyon College Friday, Oct. 25. Last season, the Kenyon women's squad took the national runner-up spot at the 2013 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships. The Scarlet and Gray will welcome Virginia Tech, Cleveland State and Denison Nov. 1.

Perhaps the highlight of the squad's home schedule will take place Nov. 22-24 when the Buckeyes host the Ohio State Invitational at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. Four of the five teams competing - Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Purdue and Ohio State - placed within the Top 30 at the 2013 NCAA Championships. 

Before closing the season with the Ohio State Winter Invitational, Feb. 8-9, the Buckeyes will host a showdown Big Ten foes Michigan and Nebraska (Jan. 31-Feb. 1).

Kentucky sent two competitors to the NCAA championships last season and each will return as juniors this season - Christina Bechtel and Christa Cabot. The Wildcats took ninth at the SEC championships with an overall point total of 368.5. Kentucky opened its season with a loss to Georgia, the SEC and NCAA champions from 2013, by a final score of 165-98.

Last season, Ohio State maintained a four-year run of Top 5 Big Ten finishes with a fourth-place effort. Adding to that effort were point scorers Kelly Ann Baird, Phoebe Cater, Rachael Dzierzak, Taylor Ford, Annie Gillig, Kristyn Fulcher, Annie Jongekrijg, Katy Luchansky, Alex Norris, Aliena Schmidtke, Ashley Vance and Michelle Williams.

The Buckeyes also bring back four NCAA qualifiers. Cater, Jongekrijg, Norris and Williams will all bring back the experience they gained at the premier national meet.

“We’re a very young team from an experience standpoint,” Dorenkott said. “The girls have done a good job this summer to get a good start from a training perspective, and that I’m very excited about. We have a couple freshmen who are going to end up being pretty darn good and that’s always a positive thing.”

After the Scarlet and Gray exhibition Oct. 18, Ohio State will welcome Kenyon to McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion for a 6 p.m. showdown Oct. 25.