CHICAGO, Ill. – The Illinois Tech men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have released this season’s schedule. It features five regular season home meets, the fourth annual Ted Erikson Invitational, the Liberal Arts Championships in February, and some strong opponents along the way.
“This season is perhaps the most difficult and diverse schedule we've had over the past several years,” said Kyllian Griffin, who is entering his fifth season as the Head Coach of both the men’s and women’s programs. “We have a handful of swimmers with their sights set beyond the conference meet to the NCAA Division III National Championships. The national meet is really challenging to qualify for and would be a major feat for them individually and for our program. Going up against top competition will provide our swimmers with added motivation and drive to reach that stage.”
After the Alumni exhibition meet on Homecoming weekend (Saturday, September 22), the Scarlet Hawks will open the regular season on Saturday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Ambrose University, exactly one year to the day SAU visited Keating Sports Center. One of 19 men’s and 21 women’s programs to qualify for the NAIA National Championships a season ago, the Bees were defeated in a dual meet by both Illinois Tech programs in Ekco Pool on Ocotber 20, 2017.
One week later, Tech will travel to Wisconsin-Whitewater for a double dual with the Warhawks and Beloit College. Whitewater figures to be one of Tech’s toughest opponents this season, as its women’s program placed second in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year and return two National Championship Qualifiers. UWW and BC also competed in a double dual last season at Illinois Tech, with the Scarlet Hawks falling to the Warhawks and defeating the Buccaneers on both the men’s and women’s sides.
The home schedule opens up on Saturday, November 3, as Franklin College and Loras College visit Ekco Pool for a 1:00 p.m. double dual. Now in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Franklin has won the last five Liberal Arts Championships. Tech downed both Loras programs a season ago.
After another road double dual on Saturday, November 10 at Carthage College against two more repeat opponents (Carthage and Illinois Wesleyan), the Scarlet Hawks will once again parkate in the Ted Mullin Hour of Power on Tuesday, November 13 at 6:00 a.m. This precedes Tech’s trip to nearby University of Chicago for the Phoenix Fall Classic, which will take place from Friday, November 16 through Sunday, November 18.
“The Phoenix Fall Classic is always a really great gauge of how our season is progressing,” explained Griffin. “We will learn what we need to focus on leading into the winter break and second half of our year.”
Before the holidays, the Scarlet Hawks will host the fourth annual Ted Erikson Invitational on Saturday, December 1. Tech will look to win the meet on both sides for a fourth consecutive season, which will feature Beloit, Lincoln College, Manchester University, and North Central College in this year’s edition.
The month of January features four dual meets in preparation of the Liberal Arts Championships. Tech will host meets against NCAA Division II’s Lewis University on Friday, January 11 and Senior Day against Carroll University on Saturday, January 19. On the road, the Scarlet Hawks will make trips to Lawrence University (Saturday, January 12) and Lake Forest College (Saturday, January 26). Lewis is the only new opponent out of the four, as Tech’s men defeated all three of Lawrence, Carroll, and Lake Forest last season. The women were also impressive 142-110 victors over Lawrence.
From Wednesday, February 13 through Saturday, February 16, the Scarlet Hawks will compete at the Liberal Arts Championships. This season, the conference meet will take place at a new location: Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Last season, Tech men finished third place out of nine teams, while the women’s program placed fourth out of 11, missing out on second place by just five points. Griffin believes both programs have what it takes to break through and become LAC Champions in 2019.
“The men are hungry for a conference title,” said Griffin. “We've been knocking on the door the past couple of seasons with close third place finishes. This year, we believe the pieces are in place to really push for the championship.”
“On the women's side, the team has a bit of a chip on their shoulder after finishing fourth place at the 2018 meet, narrowly missing second place,” he continued. “We drew the short straw last year, and the returning swimmers know what needs to be fixed in order for us to improve in this upcoming season. Our incoming recruiting class is very talented and diverse, which will add to the women's chances of moving up within the conference.”
If any Scarlet Hawks qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships, this year's event will take place from Wednesday, March 20 through Saturday, March 23 at Greensboro Acquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.
All of Illinois Tech’s home meets will be live streamed once again this season.