The Missouri State women’s swimming and diving team has been preparing for several weeks for the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference Championships. Missouri State will be hosting the meet for the first time ever at Mizzou. The women’s team has won the title for the past two years, and they hope to continue that streak of excellence.

But every season is different.

Head coach Dave Collins stressed it doesn’t matter what happened the year before, you have to forget about it and move on to focus on the now.

“You can learn from past years and history, but you have to treat each year like its own team, its own season, its own goals,” Collins said.

This year’s women’s roster is smaller than years previous, meaning there will be a tight race to the top. The title could potentially come down to the last day of the meet, maybe even the last race.

Senior Josie Pearson is a three-time All-MVC First Team athlete and currently holds the school record for the 400-meter individual medley (4:18.09). At last year’s conference championship, Pearson took home silver in both the 200 and 400 individual medley and bronze in the 200 butterfly.

Pearson said she is looking forward to making waves again at this year’s meet.

“I’m getting really excited to hopefully go out with a bang with my last meet ever,” Pearson said.

Senior Loretta Stelnicki is also a three-time All-MVC First Team athlete. In last year’s contest, she was a gold medalist in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle relays. Individually, Stelnicki took home bronze in the 200-meter backstroke and fifth place in both the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Stelnicki thinks the team is ready to put up a fight at conference.

“We had a really good training trip down in Florida, and everyone has been doing really well in practice,” Stelnicki said. “We’re excited to see what happens in a week.”

The Bears are projected to come out the conference champions according to the pre-championship poll. Collins said there are always high expectations when going into high-intensity meets, but said it’s just about going out and producing.

“We’re excited,” Collins said. “We’re looking forward to getting in there and doing the best we possibly can.”

Stelnicki said it’s important to keep emotions in check at this meet and to not let the rollercoaster overwhelm or get the best of you.

The meet kicks off on Feb. 20.

Claire began as a sports reporter for The Standard in March of 2018. She covers football, baseball, and basketball. Claire is a junior at Missouri State University majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and Marketing.