Moving up

Meredith Mandal is joined by her teammates as she signs to compete with Wheeling University.

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COOS BAY — Meredith Mandal has been a great leader on the Southwestern Oregon Community College swim team.

That makes her an ideal person to join the start-up team at Wheeling University in West Virginia.

Mandal recently signed with the school, which competes at the NCAA Division II level. She said the team’s coach reached out to SWOCC coach Sandra Bullock and Mandal was a good fit.

“He wanted some older people that weren’t just freshmen and sophomores,” Mandal said.

Bullock said Mandal fits the maturity trait well.

“She is a wonderful human being, first and foremost,” Bullock said. “She has been a leader for us.

“She has a heart to just be there for her teammates.”

Mandal was recruited by a number of four-year schools, Bullock said.

“She got to pick,” the coach said. “She gets to help a D2 program get started.”

Mandal’s planned field of study played a big role in her choice.

“I am studying education,” she said. “I want to be an elementary school teacher. I love teaching kids.”

Mandal already has gotten a head start on teaching others, Bullock said.

“She is a tutor in the tutoring center (on campus),” Bullock said. “She helps hear teammates.”

Mandal came to SWOCC from Sisters High School in Central Oregon.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her time at SWOCC, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been awesome,” Mandal said. “I love this team. The school has been really good. I love the beach.”

She also loves her swim team.

“It’s been awesome,” she said. “Our core value is family.

“It’s a really good team.”

Mandal and the Lakers finish the season next week at the NJCAA national championships in Florida and she will be busy with a schedule that includes arguably three of the most grueling individual events — the 200 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley — to go with the 50 breaststroke and at least a couple of relays.

“Her gut is displayed in the pool,” Bullock said. “She is swimming some of the hardest events at nationals.”

Mandal’s attitude about those events exhibits why she should also shine at Wheeling.

“She’s excited to do them,” Bullock said. “She’s worked hard to do them.”

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