he Orediggers wrapped up an eventful four-day weekend on February 16th in Lewisville, Texas at the RMAC meet. After all was said and done, 18 Mines men and women garnered All-RMAC selections. On the women’s side junior Mia Wood led the way, completing a distance sweep (winning the 1650, 1000, and 500-meter freestyle events). Senior Jonathan Donehower ended his collegiate career with a bang, placing in six events, including the sole men’s gold medal of the meet for Mines, in the 400-individual medley. However, it was sophomore Peyton Scherschel that made the biggest splash of the weekend, earning the honor of RMAC Swimmer of the Year.
Scherschel, a computer science major, had arguably the busiest schedule of anyone at the meet. He competed in six different events that were spread across all four days, so there wasn’t too much time left over for homework. “I tried to do as much as I could beforehand,” said Scherschel, however he did end up having to finish up a software engineering assignment between prelims and finals one day.
Scherschel started out the meet with his primary event: the 50-meter freestyle. “That was a big one for me,” said Scherschel. “There’s no room to mess up in the 50-free.” In collegiate swim, a pool length is 25 meters, as opposed to a 50-meter Olympic sized pool. This means that the one turn in a 50-meter event can make or break your race. Scherschel spent his warmup time practicing his starts and turns, and it paid off with a CSM record time in prelims. “I was pretty pumped about that swim,” said Scherschel. He went on to shave a fraction of a second off of his own record in the final, placing sixth overall with a time of 20.62. “I know the guy who held the record previously and we’re good friends,” said Scherschel. “It was fun to beat his record.”
Day two ended with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter butterfly for Scherschel, as well a fourth-place finish as a part of the 200-freestyle relay. Going between individual and relay events, in additional to switching strokes and distances, may seem like a tall order, but it wasn’t a big deal for Scherschel. “For me there’s nothing too unusual about it,” said Scherschel. “Transitioning between the two races, with the exception of how I prepare beforehand with my warmup, is pretty easy for me to do.”
Day three of the meet offered a new challenge. The 100-meter breastroke is by far the deepest event for the Orediggers, with six Mines men advancing past prelims. So, what’s it like competing against your teammates?
“Even more competitive,” said Scherschel. “We all kind of knew us four [Scherschel, Donehower, Sam Knott and Sasha Moreland] would be placing very high. To see us all get into the ‘A’ final was pretty exciting.” Knott placed second, Scherschel took fourth, Donehower placed sixth and Moreland took seventh.
Scherschel rounded out his meet on day four with a sixth-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle, and a fourth-place effort as a member of the 400-meter freestyle relay. At the end of it all, he placed in all six of the events he competed in, and earned himself the title of RMAC Swimmer of the Year. “I did not expect that,” said Scherschel. “Last year it went to the guy who set the national record in the 50-free; those are those are pretty big shoes to fill.” The honor means even more considering that Scherschel still has two more years of eligibility remaining. “Traditionally [the award] goes to seniors… so when I heard my name called, I was ecstatic,” said Scherschel. “It was amazing to even be considered for that award, never mind win it.”
Overall, it was a successful weekend for the Orediggers, but this meet means more than that to the athletes. “You’re focused on competing and what not, but it’s one of the most fun weeks of my life,” said Scherschel. “To be out there doing what I love with all of the friends; you have such great times and make great memories with all of these people.” For most of the team, this marks the end of the 2018-19 season. “We’ve put in so much hard work, and grown so close as a family,” said Scherschel. “To watch everyone’s swims this weekend, and to watch all of their hard work pay off; It’s just amazing to think of the journey that’s brought us all here. Especially for our seniors.”
The swim season may be over for most of the team, but keep an eye out for Mia Wood in the NCAA Division II Championships. She will be competing in the distance events, look to get back on the podium after just missing out last season.