As the 2018-19 swimming and diving season begins to wrap up, the Cyclones (7-4, 2-1 Big 12) are headed into the Big 12 Championship with great momentum behind them. The Cyclones finished the regular season winning four of their final five meets and are now looking to make a mark in Austin, Texas.
With the Cyclones in strong form heading into the Big 12 Championship, one of the underlying reasons is the leadership from all three seniors. Senior captains Haley Ruegemer, Evan Hundley and Sydney Ronald have been instrumental in terms of their performances in the pool as well as their leadership outside of the pool.
Ruegemer has had a big influence on the team since she arrived at Iowa State in the 2015-16 season. Ruegemer earned herself All-Big 12 honors her freshman year and quickly became one of the team's best distance swimmers. Since then, Ruegemer has earned even more honors such as being named to the All-Big 12 first and second team, academic All-Big 12 first team and the Kansas Classic All-Invite Team.
“Haley’s been a great leader this last year but, even when [she] was younger [she] did a great job,” said coach Duane Sorenson. “Haley’s been an outstanding performer for us in the pool and we can have her swim many different races."
Ruegemer described her four years with the team by emphasizing the feeling of community.
“I can tell from my recruiting trip that the girls are like family … and that’s always been in the back of my head as we start every year,” Ruegemer said. “[I was] just making sure that I continue that tradition moving from a freshman to an upperclassmen because those are the people who set the culture.”
Hundley is a prime example of someone who “set the culture."
Hundley has been named on the academic All-Big 12 first team for the past two seasons and was also a top-five swimmer for the Cyclones in her freshman year.
Sophomore swimmer Wyli Erlechman said she's going to miss Hundley after this season.
“During practice when we’re all kind of down she’s super positive and its really nice to have [her] experience,” Erlechman said.
Erlechman has had an impressive first two years with the team and plans to continue her success in the pool moving forward.
“I want to move up within the team,” Erlechman said. "[I] definitely [want to] improve and get more personal records and hopefully, as a junior or senior, have underclassmen look up to me like we look up to the seniors now."
She wants to carry on the tradition set by the seniors.
“Evan’s been a person [who] swims where she’s needed,” Sorenson said, praising the versatility of Hundley and the impact she’s had. “When she was a freshman we swam her in the 200-free and then we needed her more on the backstroke her sophomore and junior year.”
This year she swam those races and the 200-back.
“It’s not her best race but she did a great job stepping into that role,” Sorenson said.
Finally, senior diver and captain Sydney Ronald has also been a vital part in keeping the team together.
Ronald has been named to Academic All Big-12 first team, Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and All-Big 12 second team in her duration with the team and has had a major influence on the team as well.
Ronald has made a great impact on the team despite suffering injuries that tested her.
“For me it’s kind of been a rough road because I had two surgeries but, its’s been great,” Ronald said. “I would never want to dive for a different school.”
As the Big 12 Championship approaches and season comes close to its conclusion, it is evident that there are big shoes to fill once all three senior captains graduate this May.
“Syd is such a presence … she’s been here forever,” Erlechman said. “I don’t know what it's going to be like without Syd.
“She’s always there for the swimmers and we’re always there for her.”