After a three-week wait for news on his NCAA qualification, second-year Alex Stabell finally got the word he’d feared on Friday: painfully close but no cigar.
When men’s swimming kicked off the season, there had been a couple of NCAA hopefuls on the roster. By the end of the year, only Stabell had a shot of making the final cut after a swift 51.51 in the 100-yard butterfly at the league championships in Cleveland put him on the bubble for grabbing a spot to dive in at Houston. The time was good for third at UAAs, but matched last year’s mark for Nationals qualification, raising Stabell’s hopes for a chance to compete against the best in DIII.
Back in Hyde Park for training, Stabell’s chances suddenly didn’t look as promising when a couple of swimmers from across the country had good swims at conference meets to push him down the list. It would take a few people deciding to fill their cap by entering in other events for the Godrey, IL native to get one of the coveted lanes at NCAAs. It didn’t happen.
“I felt bad for him because he’s sort of been up and down emotionally,” head coach Jason Weber said. “After the swim meet with that time, we were really excited…then we saw what place he was after our weekend of competition. He’s pretty motivated for next year now.”
In the end, Stabell showed up as the third alternate in the 100-yard fly—and effectively the second alternate because the swimmer ahead of him had gone in as a relay only. The 51.51 he recorded at UAAs missed qualification by eight-hundredths of a second, making him even closer than his counterpart on the women’s team, first-year Cassie O’Neill, who came up short in the 200-yard breaststroke.