Jenni Roberts is making her first trip to the NCAA women’s swimming & diving championships as a University of New Hampshire Wildcat. But the Springvale resident and 2010 Sanford High grad is no stranger to the event.
Roberts was an honorable mention All-American last season in the 200 free relay for the University of Maryland and the Terrapins’ team finished 13th.
Trouble was, that was not only Roberts’ last race for Maryland but also one of the very last for the program. Maryland eliminated swimming and diving from its athletic department.
“They gave everyone the option of you can stay at Maryland and keep scholarship and about half the team stayed and the other half left,” Roberts said Tuesday in a phone interview from Indianapolis. “I knew I wanted to continue swimming. I just had to find a school I’d be happy with.”
It turned out that school was less than an hour from her home and “I’m enjoying it even more.”
Roberts is scheduled to compete in the 200 and 100 yard butterfly events and the 200 individual medley. She is joined in Indianapolis by UNH sophomore Katie Mann. They are the only two women from the America East to qualify.
The NCAA Division I championship meet is being held at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The meet begins Thursday and concludes Saturday.
Many of the swimmers and coaches, including Roberts, Mann and UNH Coach Josh Willman, spent Tuesday afternoon in a lockdown situation. A lone gunman was reported roaming the campus. Willman said they received an email to stay in their rooms until further notice.
“We were hoping to go to the pool around 4:30,” Willman said about an hour and a half earlier. “We’re fine. The meet doesn’t start until Thursday.”
Roberts was a dominant swimmer at Sanford, losing one race her freshman season then going undefeated the rest of the way, racking up seven state championships.
This past summer she competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials in the 200 IM and the 200 butterfly.
“It was awesome to watch the fastest swimmers in the world and be able to be on the pool deck,” Roberts said. “My goal was just to get there, so it was really fun to be there.”
This season at UNH she set personal records in all her top events.
“I’ve gotten a lot faster. All of my best times have come this year,” Roberts said. “I think the coaches here just know what they’re doing. They’re very organized, they have a plan for every year and we know where we should be at, at every meet of the season, all with the idea of swimming our best at the end of the season. We work hard and it shows by how fast we’re going.”
Competing in her first America East championship, Roberts was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer after breaking conference records in the 200 IM and the 200 butterfly.
She also set four pool records this season and at the ECAC Championships set meet and personal records in the 100 fly (53.41 seconds) and 200 fly (1 minute, 57.31 seconds) and a PR of 1:58.79 in the 200 IM.
Roberts is seeded 30th in the 200 fly at the NCAA meet, her best placement. The top 38 competitors are invited in each event.
“I had two goals this season. We wanted to win the America East team title and we did that and I wanted to make it back to the NCAA meet,” Roberts said.
“Now, my goal here is to see what else I can do.”
Roberts is scheduled to begin her championship competition on Thursday morning in the 200 IM. The top 16 will advance to the evening final (top 8) and consolation final (9 to 16). Swimmers who qualify for the final are considered All-Americans.
On Friday she’ll swim the 100 fly with the 200 fly set for Saturday.
Willman admitted UNH was “a little lucky” to have Roberts return to New England. He also thinks she is now swimming her best events. At Maryland she was more focused on the shorter sprint distances.
“Genetically, that’s not her best event, probably. She was really trained specifically for the 200 fly and the 200 IM this year,” Willman said.
Williams College senior Claire Baecher of Brunswick continues to cull the postseason awards. Most recently she was named to the First Team All-Northeast Region by D3Hoops.com and to the website’s All-America fourth team.
Baecher, a center for the Ephs (27-6), had been named one of 10 Division III All-Americans by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Baecher, the fourth All-American in women’s basketball at Williams, owns the single-season blocks (95) and career blocks (260) record at Williams, finishing her career 11th in scoring (1,141 points) and 10th in rebounding (599). This season she averaged 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds with 95 blocks and 50 steals.
• University of New England senior Beth Suggs of Bath (Morse) was a WBCA honorable mention pick.
Hobart College senior goalie Nick Broadwater of Portland (Deering) had an interesting week. After Hobart narrowly missed making the Division III tournament, Broadwater signed with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League, dressing for two games, then being released.
“I hoped to have been there longer but it was nice to get my feet wet to see what it was like at the next level,” Broadwater said, according to a Hobart release.
Three days after his professional release, Broadwater was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association East All-America first team.
This season Broadwater’s 1.66 goals-against average ranked third in the country with a second-best .939 save percentage. He posted 15 wins, including a Hobart-record four shutouts.
Hamilton College sophomore first baseman Ben Goffin of Falmouth had a single, double and two RBI in a St. Patrick’s Day 8-3 win against Framingham State in Winter Haven, Fla.
Bentley University freshman Malcom Oliver of Damariscotta (Lincoln Academy) posted a team-low score of 78-81-157 to finish 11th in the 13-team Bayside Resort Invitational in Selbyville, Ohio. Bentley finished sixth as a team.
Wheaton College junior Leila Mills of Brunswick scored four goals in a 14-7 loss to Washington College.
Gettysburg senior Kelsey Boyce of Arrowsic (Morse) scored a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 5 singles in a 7-2 win over Lake Forest College in a recent match at Hilton Head, S.C. Boyce was also part of the winning No. 2 doubles team. Gettysburg is 4-1 this season, the same record Boyce holds in singles and doubles.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: [email protected]