The Lady Razorbacks open the 2004-05 season against Drury University Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. inside the Arkansas Natatorium. This marks the 16th meeting between the Lady’Backs and the Panthers. Last season, the Lady’Backs defeated the Panthers 107-96, Oct. 25. Drury finished the 2003-04 season as the NCAA Division II National Runner-up. Drury brings two national champions to Fayetteville in sophomore Natalie Cardoza and senior Cindy Ong. Cardoza won the 500, 1000 and 1650 free titles as a freshman, while Ong took top honors in the 200 fly.
Senior Zsuzsa Csobanki returns to the Lady’Backs for her final season after competing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. As a four-time national champion, Csobanki represented Hungary in the 50 free. Csobanki was also an all-American in 2003. For the Lady’Backs, Csobanki competes in the freestyle and butterfly events.
The Lady’Backs return four Southeastern Conference scorers from a year ago. Csobanki, seniors Hannah Clegg, Whitney Lynn and sophomore Molly Muck contributed to Arkansas’s seventh place finish at the SEC meet. Csobanki scored in the 50 free, while Lynn earned points in the 200 and 1650 free. Then first-year Lady’Backs Clegg, in the 200 back, and Muck, in the 100 breast, assisted in Arkansas’s quest for the SEC title.
The Lady’Backs added 10 newcomers to the roster including six divers. Arkansas experienced a Canadian invasion as freshmen Jamie Hyslop, Tori Kennedy and Brieanne Kushner lead the Lady’Back charge on the boards. Freshmen divers Madison Palmer, Kellyn Williams and Hilarie Wilson add depth to the squad. Minnesota state champion Emily Gregory gives the Lady’Backs speed in the freestyle and butterfly events. Katie Borkovec, Juliette Burks and Tifanie Silver also add depth in the lanes.
Freshman diver Tori Kennedy will not participate in the Drury, LSU, Alabama, Tulane and New Orleans meets. Kennedy travels to Brazil to compete in the junior worlds for the Canadian National Team. Kennedy, a Calgary, Alberta native, competes in the platform, one- and three- meter events.
Home Sweet Home
While the Lady’Backs open the season at home, they won’t host another home meet until January 10 when Tennessee travels to Fayetteville. The Lady’Backs only host three home meets this season including the fall opener.
Filling the Gap
Due to the graduation of the national runner-up in the three-meter Mandy Moran, the Lady’Back divers have big shoes to fill. Moran earned all-American honors in three events at the 2004 national championship. While Moran is no longer competing for Arkansas, she is still on deck as a volunteer coach for the Lady’Backs. Arkansas also lost NCAA qualifier Peggy Stoner. Stoner set the school record in the 50 free at the 2004 SEC Championship meet.
A Year Ago
Last year, the Lady’Backs concluded the season with a 27th place finish at the NCAA Championship, their best finish since 1990-91. Arkansas also improved at the SEC Championship meet, when the Lady’Backs finished seventh a spot above the 2002-03 season.
The Lady’Backs hit the road and travel to the Pelican State for a weekend of competition. Arkansas begins Southeastern Conference meets in Baton Rouge, La. with a dual against Louisiana State and Alabama Oct. 29. The Lady’Backs then travel Oct. 30 to New Orleans to take on Tulane and the University of New Orleans.