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Plum grad hoping for even more success in second season swimming with Wheeling Jesuit

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Wheeling Jesuit University
Plum graduate Vanessa Gipson captured three conference titles as a freshman in February 2013.

Plum graduate Vanessa Gipson wanted to do well in her first season on the Wheeling Jesuit women's swim team.

But she didn't think she would end her first campaign with the Cardinals as well as she did.

At the 2012-13 Appalachian Swimming Conference championships in February, Gipson, a distance swimmer, claimed the 1650-yard and 500-yard freestyles and was a part of the victorious 800-yard free relay.

“It was really exciting,” Gipson said. “I went into the season not really expecting to do anything of that extent. I went into the conference championships with no real expectations and a clear head. I just wanted to swim my best. Everyone does. Once I swam (my first event), I felt great, and it really pumped me up for the rest of the meet.”

The time of 17:41.73 in the 1650 free set an ASC championship-meet record, a school record and was an NCAA Division II B-cut time.

“To win (conference) titles as a freshman was unreal,” Gipson said.

The B-cut times are provisional cuts for consideration to the NCAA championships as the committee fills out the field in each event, but they aren't times that automatically place a swimmer at the NCAA meet.

Gipson later found out that her time in the 1650 wasn't fast enough to send her to nationals.

The conference win in the 500 came in a time of 5:10.62, while the relay finished first in a time of 7:57.08.

Rather than getting frustrated with not making it to nationals, Gipson refocused her goals to this season and the hopes of making it to the national meet in March.

“We knew she had a good chance to do very well at the conference championships,” head coach Mike Meyers said.

“She improved throughout the season. She had the times, and it was a matter of getting a job done that particular day.”

Gipson added a silver medal on the second day of the conference championships, as she took second in the 200 free in a time of 1:59.24.

As a team, the Wheeling Jesuit women finished only four points behind champion Notre Dame College (Ohio).

“Everyone put everything they had into that meet, and to lose by that close a margin was devastating,” Gipson said.

“We really want to bring home the (conference) title this year.”

This season began with promising swims at the West Virginia State Games meet Oct. 11-12, and things really ramped up over the weekend in a big tri-meet with Notre Dame College and California University of Pennsylvania.

Wheeling Jesuit upset perennial PSAC power Cal U, 102-101, and stopped defending conference champion Notre Dame, 126-78.

Gipson took second in the 1000 free (11:07.15), fourth in the 500 free (5:30.72) and helped the 400 free relay take third (3:48.64).

“She had a great freshman season, and I know she wants to take that next step this year,” Meyers said.

Wheeling Jesuit returns to competition on Nov. 9 against West Virginia Wesleyan in a nonconference home meet.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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