Brenau's M.K. Jabbia reaches for a high-five during the 2015 NAIA Nationals meet Oklahoma CIty where she took second place in the 200 breaststroke.
Brenau's M.K. Jabbia reaches for a high-five during the 2015 NAIA Nationals meet Oklahoma CIty where she took second place in the 200 breaststroke.

Golden Tigers Top Appalachian Swimming Conference Preseason Rankings

Oct. 7, 2015
David Morrison

The Appalachian Swimming Conference coaches poll has ranked the Brenau Golden Tigers, last year’s conference champions, in the No. 1 spot in its 2015-16 preseason rankings.

After dominating the field to win the ASC title in last season’s championship meet, the Tigers went on to claim third place in the nation, its highest finish ever, at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics finals in Oklahoma City.

In his first year as head coach, the Tigers skipper Nate Rhoads said the preseason rankings validate the 2015-16 squad’s goal to repeat as conference champs and place even higher in national standings.

“It means a lot to be recognized by the other coaches in the ASC for our past accomplishments,” Rhoads said, “but this ranking motivates us to train hard and strive to repeat as conference champions.”

Rhoads inherited some outstanding tools for the task with returning All-Americans – senior Mary Katherine (M.K.) Jabbia of Slidell, Louisiana, and junior Courtney Hayward of Townsville, Australia.

“The team has set some big goals in the pool and in the classroom,” Rhoads said. “M.K. leads the team by example, excelling in both areas. Courtney swims all of the toughest events for us, and she gets the job done. She’s rock solid for the team.”

Courtney Hayward and M.K. Jabbia during the 2015 NAIA Nationals meet in Oklahoma CIty.

Courtney Hayward and M.K. Jabbia during the 2015 NAIA Nationals meet in Oklahoma CIty.

Although Jabbia is the last of a string of outstanding Louisiana swimmers known as the Cajun Connection, Hayward was first of a stream of Australian talents that includes sophomore All-Americans Alisha Hodgetts from Perth and Ella Kleinschmidt of Hervey Bay, Queensland.

New recruits to the team include freshman standouts Lindsay Dowling of Winston, Georgia, and Devin Horan of Savannah, Georgia.

“Our freshmen are doing a great job and are making an immediate impact on the team. They have a bright future here at Brenau,” Rhoads said.

The ASC, Rhoads said, is very competitive this year. The key to the team’s success, he said, is nailing down the fundamentals. That means improving stroke technique, hitting off the walls faster and consistently placing high in relays.

It’s also an opportunity for the new recruits and some of the returning swimmers to truly shine.

“The people who win events, they are going to keep making it to finals and winning,” he said. “It’s what the people who qualify and the consolation swimmers do that is going to determine the outcome of the season.”

The Golden Tigers are off to a hot start, having beaten Columbia College and Point University at the team’s first meet of the season on Sept. 26.

“Around January and February is really when you start to see how our team might fare at the national level,” Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor said. “Each year we continue to make progress to getting to the pinnacle, and hopefully this is the year we reach it.”

The Golden Tigers’ next meet is at the Fifth Annual Women’s Swimming Invite at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Friday and Saturday Oct. 9-10.

For a complete schedule of the 2015 Golden Tigers season and meet results, visit http://www.brenautigers.com.

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6299 or (800) 252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, (770) 534-6100 or (800) 252-5119 ext. 6100