For the first time in program history, the Truman swimming teams will compete for the same conference title as the majority of its fellow department peers, as the Bulldogs head to the inaugural Great Lakes Valley Conference championships this Wednesday through Saturday in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
The Bulldog women carry a rich tradition of conference postseason finishes to the Hoosier state this weekend, having secured a first- or second-place finish in every conference championship event since the 1988-89 season.
During that time, however, Truman has competed under five different conference banners â?? none of which synced up with the department in general, as the MIAA â?? Truman's previous conference â?? did not sponsor the event.
Last season, as members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the Bulldog women took home second place, as then-junior Casey Jepsen landed the league's Swimmer of the Year honors, and Brynn Guardado earned the conference's Freshman of the Year award.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog men will also compete for its first GLVC title after bouncing around from league to league alongside the women's program for the last 24 seasons.
Last year, Truman took home third place in the NSIC final event.
Seven men's teams and seven women's programs, representing eight member institutions, will vie for the inaugural 2014 GLVC Championships.
Five GLVC schools sponsor both men's and women's swimming and diving, including Bellarmine (Ky.), Drury (Mo.), Indianapolis, Lewis (Ill.), and William Jewell (Mo.), while Truman will field both its men's and women's swimming-only programs.
In addition, Missouri S&T currently sponsors men's-only, and Maryville (Mo.) began its women's-only swimming program this year.
While the Bulldogs have been building history with a handful of other GLVC programs, the one that's provided the most excitement has been Truman's long-standing rivalry with Drury.
For every season â?? save one â?? since 1997, the women's Division II national title has held residence in the state of Missouri.
Drury began the run with four straight titles from 1997-2000 before Truman took control by posting an unprecedented six-peat from 2001-2006 â?? besting Drury each time.
The two squads traded first- and second-place finishes in 2007 (Drury-1, Truman-2) and 2008 (Truman-1, Drury-2), before the Panthers logged three straight titles from 2009-2011.
Only until Wayne (Mich.) State stood atop the podium in 2012 was the Missouri streak snapped; however, the Warriors' reign was short-lived, as Drury again took the national title in 2013.
Meanwhile, on the men's side, Drury has been the team to beat as well, having won nine straight national titles and 11 overall since 1999.
In addition to the conference championship competition, teams will be vying to increase and improve its positions atop the national charts in each event. Entering this weekend, the Bulldog women have seen 10 different swimmers earn a combined 17 B-cut individual standards, while five women's relay squads have also notched B-cut times.
The men, meanwhile, will be looking to secure their first B-cut times of the season in the final regular season event.
The Championships get underway with preliminary competitions each morning at 10 a.m. (CDT), with the finals set to begin at 6 p.m. (CDT) on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday's finals will start at 5 p.m. (CDT).
Courtesy Truman State University