We’ll be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s programs from the 2017 NCAA Championships – stay tuned to our College Swimming Previews channel to catch all 24. Can’t get enough college swimming news? Check out the College Preview issue of SwimSwam Magazine for some inside looks at the life of a college swimmer as told by college swimmers themselves, plus full-length profiles of a few of college swimming’s biggest names, including our cover athlete, Simone Manuel.
#9 MISSOURI TIGERS
Key Losses: Michael Chadwick (36.5 NCAA points, 4 NCAA relays), Andrew Sansoucie (12 NCAA points, 4 NCAA relays), Fabian Schwingenschloegl (17 NCAA points, 2 NCAA relays), Carter Griffin (13 NCAA points, 1 NCAA relay), Nick Davis (1 NCAA relay)
Key Additions: Carter Grimes (NV – distance), Ryan Geheb (TX – breast), Matthew Connealy (TX – sprint free), Alex Moore (VA – sprint free), Grant Reed (TX – free), Jacob Wielinski (North Dakota transfer – distance)
We’ve tightened up our criteria from last year, where our first stab at a letter grading system got hit by a little bit of classic grade inflation. Again, bear in mind that all of these grades are projections more than 6 months out – and as none of us has a working crystal ball, these projections are very subjective and very likely to change over the course of the season. Disagreeing with specific grades is completely acceptable; furiously lashing out at a writer, commenter or specific athlete is not.
- A = projected to score significant (10+) NCAA points per event
- B = projected to score some (3-10) NCAA points per event
- C = projected on the bubble to score likely only a few (1-2) or no NCAA points per event
- D = projected to score no NCAA points
Boasting one of the best senior classes in the nation last year, the Tiger veterans took them to 9th at NCAAs, finishing 3rd among all SEC teams behind only Florida and UGA.
Michael Chadwick came up huge for the Tigers, racking up 36.5 points on three individual swims. His biggest swim was a runner-up finish to Caeleb Dressel in the 100 free, breaking 41 seconds in the process, while he also A-finaled in the 50 free and B-finaled in the 100 breast.
In that 100 breast, Fabian Schwingenschloegl put down a runner-up finish as well, touching 2nd behind Will Licon. Andrew Sansoucie was another A-finalist for Mizzou in the 100 fly, while the three of them teamed up with freshman Daniel Hein for some deadly medleys– they grabbed 3rd in the 400 and 4th in the 200.
Meanwhile, Carter Griffin came through for a top 8 finish in the 200 back to round out the Tigers’ individual scoring, which was made up entirely of seniors.
Sprint Free: D+
Chadwick’s departure is an obvious big hit, and Sansoucie was also a notable part of the sprint free relays.
Luke Mankus and Sam Coffman return from the NCAA 200 free relay, having split 19.0 and 19.6, respectively, with flying starts. It took a 19.2 to score in the 50 at NCAAs, and Mankus has been 19.6, so a B final appearance for him next year isn’t out of the question.
Meanwhile, Mikel Schreuders is back after swimming on the 400 and 800 free relays. He was 43.1 leading off the 400 relay, .6 off of 16th place in the individual 100 at NCAAs, though his best scoring chance lies in the 200 free. He was 1:34.2 at NCAAs last year, and 1:33-mid is what it will likely take to make the B final next year.
As for the freshmen, there’s some potential for 100-200 free development. Matthew Connealy, Alex Moore, and Grant Reed have all been around the same times in the 100 and 200 free: 44.7/1:37.4 for Connealy, 44.8/1:38.4 for Moore, and 44.7/1:37.1 for Reed. They could slot in for two of the open 800 free relay spots left by Griffin and Nick Davis, and there’s definitely something to work with between the three of them.
Distance Free: D-
Davis was far and away the best distance swimmer for Mizzou, and he just graduated. There is some help on the way, though, thanks to a freshman and a transfer.
Carter Grimes of Sandpipers of Nevada, a club known for producing distance talent, will join up as a freshman this fall. He’s been 4:23 in the 500 and 15:13 in the mile, well off of scoring times, but he made the 2016-17 US Junior National team for the 10K open water and he has potential.
Meanwhile, Jacob Wielinski is coming off of a great sophomore season at North Dakota. He won the 2017 WAC title in the 1650 with a 14:59.09, a time that is seven seconds better than Davis’ program record. He’s 12-13 seconds off of what scored at NCAAs last year, although he’s riding an improvement curve that could soar with his new training home in Columbia.
There isn’t much of an IM base in Columbia this year, as Chadwick (1:43.0 in the 200) is gone, and even with Chadwick in the mix, there was no potential for NCAA points as he swims the 50 at champ meets.
Grimes has been 3:49 in the 400 IM, which will likely be his third event to go with the 500 and 1650. There will definitely be a Mizzou presence at SECs in the IM’s, but the Tigers will be hard pressed to score nationally.
Like most of the strokes here, a graduation takes most of the edge out of this group, with 100 fly NCAA A finalist Andrew Sansoucie no longer part of the picture.
Sophomore Micah Slaton was the team’s top 200 butterflier last season and he returns as the fastest 100 flier, too, with bests of 46.6/1:44.3. Slaton might not be able to score at NCAAs, but he’s not terribly far off that level, and he’ll be a solid fly leg on medley relays. Another sophomore, Daniel Hein, has been 46.8 in the 100, though he is much better suited for the backstrokes.
As mentioned, Daniel Hein is one of the few returners who helped contribute points at NCAAs last year, albeit only on relays.
Hein was 46.6/1:42.9 at SECs last season, scoring up in the A final in the 100. At NCAAs, he dropped a 45.99 leading off their 3rd place 400 medley relay and a 21.24 leading off the 200 medley relay. More of a sprinter, he’ll be one important returner for multiple relays, while his individual 100 back has him on the cusp of scoring.
Sophomore Nick Alexander will be important, too, with bests of 47.4/1:42.6. His 200 is the best on the team right now, just a hair better than Hein, and backstroke is looking like the team’s biggest strength this season. Juniors Alex Walton and Griffin Schaetzle are both 1:43 backstrokers, too.
Jordy Groters has bests from the 2015-16 season of 52.7/1:56.6, and he’ll be the team’s top breaststroker for the 2017-18 season. The B final cutoffs last year were 52.4/1:54.1, so he’s right on scoring level in the 100.
Meanwhile, Jordan O’Brien isn’t too far behind Groters at 53.1/1:58.1, both times coming from the Mizzou Invitational in November of 2016. Additionally, freshman Ryan Geheb brings in times of 54.8/2:00.7, and he could drop a bunch in his first year at Mizzou.
There’s no getting around the graduation losses for Mizzou, and the freshman class is solid, but they can in no way make up for all of the A-final national scoring power that’s no longer with the Tigers.
There are still some bits and pieces from last year, and Wielinski is an exciting add, as he’s already the best distance freestyler the team has ever seen. His pairing with freshman Grimes could turn into something special, too.
Mizzou could still score some relays at the national level, but other than potential individual scoring from Hein, Schreuders and maybe a breaststroker, that will probably be the limit for them this season.