The Valkyries swim team, in only its second season of existence, is the first team in the Converse’s history to finish their regular season undefeated. The swimmers ended their season on Saturday, January 29, with the defeat of Milligan 197 to 29 and Mars Hill 175 – 83 at the Harrell Natitorium in Mars Hill, NC.
“I could not be more impressed with my team,” praised head swim coach Susan Kunkler. “You could tell they were on a mission and nothing was going to stop them. It was a blessing to be a part of the win and history and to share it with all the fans, family and faculty who came to support us.”
Assistant coach Corey White added, “This was the team’s goal since day one, not mine or Coach Kunkler’s but the team’s. They never lost sight of the goal since they set it. It is a well deserved accomplishment for the young women, representing all the hard work and teamwork they’ve put forth this year.”
Up next for the team is the Bluegrass Mountain Conference championship February 16 – 19 in Charlotte, NC, where they aim to place 3rd.
This is a year of incredible milestones for the team on many levels. Four swimmers (including three freshmen) have qualified for NCAA Division II nationals, with another 4 hoping to qualify at the conference championship. Three swimmers hold national rankings, including freshman Rhiannon Gluhosky (Summerville, SC – 8th in nation for 400 IM), freshman Jess Mason (Greenville, SC- 20th in nation in 200 IM and 200 free), and sophomore Jenni Russell (Tega Cay, SC – 20th in nation in 200 breaststroke). Russell is heading to nationals for the second year in a row. The team also met their goal to achieve All American Academic, with an overall 3.32 GPA, putting them within the top 10 Division II women’s swim teams in the country for academic achievement. They have four hopefuls to be named All American swimmers, which will be determined at the NCAA national meet.
The accomplishments are a significant step in advancing toward Converse’s goal of building a winning athletics program. The College gained full membership in NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas in 2007 under the leadership of athletic director Joy Couch. Just last year, lacrosse and swimming were added to the roster of sports. Both teams made significant national accomplishments in their first two seasons. This year, an equestrian team was added to the roster.
“We are serious about building a winning program,” said President Betsy Fleming. “The tremendous momentum built over the past few years has attracted the attention of many talented student-athletes. These women are looking to Converse as a college where they can compete on a high level while also excelling in academics and enjoying a vibrant student life.”