CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa had high expectations for the Missouri Valley Conference swimming and diving championships it hosted Wednesday through Saturday at the University of Iowa’s pool.
The Panthers did not disappoint.
UNI set 13 school records, as well as seven total MVC records, while finishing third overall just a few points out of the runner-up position. In addition, Panther Katie Taylor was named the MVC’s Freshman of the Year.
“We really came out and did exactly what the team had trained for and what they had prepared for and set the bar really, really high for seasons to come,” head coach Doug Humphrey said Monday during UNI’s weekly coaches’ luncheon.
“Overall at the meet, of the 85 swims that we had, 80 of them were season-best times. That’s a 94 percent record. I’ll take that any time.
“I will call this year a resounding success, and it definitely keeps us moving in the right direction.”
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: UNI (20-6, 13-2) grabbed a pair of wins in contrasting styles over the weekend and reached 20 wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
UNI has just one game this week — Friday night at 21st-ranked Drake. The Bulldogs defeated the Panthers 88-79 in a double-overtime thriller Jan. 27 at the McLeod Center.
“Drake is on a roll,” said assistant coach Brad Nelson. “To be 15-0 in this league, kudos to them because that’s really impressive.
“I think we’re ready for it. It’s a great opportunity to play the 21st-ranked team in the country and see where we’re at.”
SOFTBALL: Three close games at the DeMarini Desert Classic in Las Vegas resulted in a pair of close losses for UNI (5-3), but also provided the Panthers with some valuable experiences.
“I think a lot of situations came up that I think are coachable that I’d rather have happen early in the season rather than once we get into the league ...,” said head coach Ryan Jacobs.This week, UNI joins Grambling State, Sam Houston State, Louisiana Tech and McNeese State in the Louisiana Tech Classic Friday through Sunday.
TRACK AND FIELD: One of the weekends UNI has circled on the calendar is at hand with the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships Saturday and Sunday in the UNI-Dome.
Head coach Dave Paulsen is looking forward to showcasing his men’s and women’s teams, as well as the rest of the league.
“We have some really outstanding athletes on our team that have done some things in program history that have never been done before,” said Paulsen, who added that the meet will feature six athletes ranked in the top 10 nationally and 11 who have posted top 30 performances. Wichita State is the pre-meet favorite in both the men’s and women’s competition. UNI’s men are picked third and the women’s squad fifth.
WOMEN’S TENNIS: UNI swept three duals in North Dakota, defeating South Dakota State 7-0, Montana 5-2 and North Dakota 6-1 to improve to 5-1 overall.
Saturday, the Panthers host Iowa State at 11 a.m.