WSU swim to celebrate seniors in Battle of the Palouse

Cougs will hold their senior night Friday night in their final home meet against Idaho


Courtesy - WSU Athletics

WSU swim team competing against Cal, Oct. 16 2022.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen reporter

The WSU swim team will host the Battle of the Palouse Friday when they welcome Idaho on Senior Night. The Cougs enter their final meet at 1-6 having lost their last four, while Idaho comes in at 5-4.

It is not only the last home meet of the season, but it is also the last competition for the Cougs before the Pac-12 Championships. More than just another meet, this is a chance for a final tune-up and a chance to get one more look at the team before the postseason, head coach Matt Leach said.

“We’re looking at final spots for relays, who’s on what relay, what events we are putting people in, I mean most of our athletes know what they are swimming,” Leach said. “But there are a few people we might switch around or put them in a different event based on what we see this weekend.”

The Battle of the Palouse is not the most heated rivalry in sports, but Leach said it is one that he and Idaho’s head coach agree needs to go on. Leach said Idaho has a great program that succeeds in the WAC, but that this meet is more about preparing themselves for Pac-12’s and getting another chance to put their hands on the wall.

“It’s always nice to welcome them over here, we have more of a friendly rivalry, so it’s going to be fun and again, hopefully, it’ll be a good atmosphere and not too close races but it’ll still have some good races,” Leach said.

With this meet being a good chance for a tune-up before the Pac-12 tournament, those who struggle have something to look forward to and those who thrive need to stay humble. This meet is all about building confidence, knowing that even if someone doesn’t hit their goals it is not the end of the world, it’s a part of the process, Leach said.

“For us, it’s a duel-edged sword as far as far as, hey you just got a lifetime best time, great job, we still got more tapering, more detailed work to do, or oh I was a little off, that’s ok, the good news is we’re still fine-tuning,” Leach said.

Outside of the rivalry with Idaho and tuning up for Pac-12 Championships it is also a night to celebrate the senior class and all they have accomplished. This class was Leach’s first recruiting class and they have managed to improve the program every year, Leach said.

“I am so proud of everything this class has done, they’ve really helped continuously raise the bar in not only their class but every class they brought in after them that is better and better and better for our program and our history and longevity,” Leach said.

The seniors being celebrated Friday night are student assistant coach Michee Van Rooyen, butterfly and freestyle swimmer Mikaela Kirton, graduate transfer and freestyle swimmer Rebeca Oviedo Cardenas, and butterfly and individual medley swimmer Jewel Springer, who will also be returning for a fifth year in the fall, Leach said.

“Rebecca, our fifth-year grad transfer, has been amazing to have this past year and we’re super excited to graduate and get her master’s degree and then our other three have really focused on continuing to hopefully help build this program,” Leach said. “She has been very instrumental in being on the pool deck and being around helping elevate the program and then our two other seniors, both captains, Jewel Springer and Mikaela Kirton, they’ve seen it all and I’m super excited for them to finish out their careers.”

This meet may be a tune-up, a rivalry or Senior Night, but regardless, it is a chance for the Cougs to make one final statement at home before they head off to the Pac-12 tournament.