The 2017-18 winter sports season gets underway for Tommie teams on Saturday in the pool with the St. Thomas Relays.
Diving competition starts at 9:30 a.m., while pool races start at 1 p.m. at UST's Anderson Pool.
Nine-time All-America and 18-time conference champion Emma Paulson has graduated, but Coach Scott Blanchard returns a solid core from his men's and women's squads that repeated as MIAC team champions last winter. All-America Katelyn Strauss on the women's side and Bailey Biwer on the men's side will lead the Tommies this season.
St. Thomas' 38-person women's roster has six seniors. The Toms' 42-person men's roster has 15 seniors.
Both St. Thomas teams were ranked in the Division III preseason poll -- the women at No. 11, and the men at No. 23.
The Tommie women took 14th at nationals last winter, led by Paulson's NCAA runner-up finish in the 200 back. Paulson also placed third in the 100 back and 50 free. She joined Tiana Molitor, Kate Smarjesse and Alex Howard to place 14th in the 400 free relay. In the 400 medley relay, UST placed 14th with Molitor, Melissa Rose, Haley Cassens and Paulson. In the 200 medley, the same foursome placed 14th.
Strauss broke her own school record in the 200 fly (2:01.83) and placed fifth at nationals. Strauss also placed 16th in the 100 fly. Strauss has been a part of nine victories and two seconds in the last two MIAC meets.
Junior Alex Howard has been a part of nine conference meet victories in nher first two seasons.
On the men's side, Biwer took 16th in the 200 free at nationals for honorable mention All-America honors. He also was in on six victories at the MIAC Championships and is an 11-time conference champion.
Five-time MIAC diving champion Andrew Grabowski returns for his senior season. Junior Tom Negaard had a hand in four firsts and one second at the conference meet. Senior Warren Melson is a nine-time MIAC champion in individual and relay races.