Head Coach Chad Cradock enters his 16th season at the helm of the Retriever swimming and diving squads and has brought a sustained, winning culture to the programs. Both the men and women won their respective conferences last season for the second straight year. Senior Emily Escobedo (New Rochelle, N.Y./Maria Regina) became the first Retriever and America East swimmer to earn All-American status after winning bronze in the 200 breast at the NCAA Championships, and for Cradock, he knows that is another new beginning.
"After last year with what happened with Emily (Escobedo) and both the men and women winning their conference championships, we are looking to build on that success and continue forward in building our program," Cradock said.
Bucknell Meet Info:
What: UMBC Retrievers at Bucknell Bison
Where: Lewisburg, Pa. – Kinney Natatorium
When: Saturday, Oct. 1 – 1:00 p.m.
Social Media: @UMBCSwimDive, @AmericaEast, @CCSA_Swim_Dive, #AESD, #GritAndGlory
The 2016-17 Slate
The Retrievers will open the season with an exhibition meet at Bucknell on October 1. The first scored meet of the year will be a tri-meet at Navy with George Mason on October 7, follows by the first home meet of the year against Towson on Saturday, Oct. 22. The month of October closes with a dual meet against CCSA foe Gardner-Webb on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the YSSC in Duncan, S.C.
November will feature just two meets, as UMBC will host Old Dominion on Saturday, Nov. 5, before traveling to George Mason for the Mason Invitational November 17-19.
UMBC will conclude the home portion of the slate with a home meet against Howard and Vermont (women only) on Saturday, Jan. 7 on Senior/Alumni Day. The Retrievers will close the season at East Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 21 before heading to conference championships.
The UMBC women will look to win their third straight America East Championship at WPI in Worcester, Mass. on February 9-12. From there the Retrievers will head to the ECAC Championships (Feb. 24-26) before going to the NCAA Zone Diving Championships (Mar. 6-8, Christianburg, Va.) and the NCAA Championships (Mar. 15-18, Indianapolis, Ind.).
The men will head to Athens, Ga. for the CCSA Championships at the University of Georgia from February 15-18. They will then go to the ECAC Championships, and NCAA Zone Diving Championships, with their NCAA Championships being held at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 22-25.
The Retrievers will bring back a slew of returners who made a big impact on last year's teams, and coach Cradock knows that their leadership will not only help in the pool, but in the classroom as well.
"We are proud to bring back a lot of strength across the board in the pool and the diving boards. But those returners are not only important in the pool, but in the classroom as well," Cradock said. "Our team also gets it done in the classroom, as we have been strong academically with a lot of athletes making all-academic teams last year. We are looking for them to get back on those lists this year- it's one of our priorities."
The men will return a core group who helped the Retrievers back to the top of the CCSA (Coastal Collegiate Sports Association) for the second year in a row. Sophomores Alexander Gliese (Columbia, Md./Long Reach) and Ahmed Wahby (Maadi, Egypt/Victory American College), along with junior Nikola Trajkovic (Zrenjanin, Serbia/Zrenjaninska Gimnazija) and seniors Gregor Spoerlein (Bamberg, Germany/Clavius Gymnasium) and Andrew McKissick (Ellicott City, Md./Mount St. Joseph's) look to lead UMBC to their third title in four years.
The women's side will lean on seniors Amanda Day (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood), Lauren Day (Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood), and Emily Escobedo as well as sophomores Laura Massicotte (Quebec City, Quebec/Cegep Limoilou) and Hania Moro (New Cairo, Egypt/Ramsen College) to lead a veteran group toward another America East title.
There will be a total of 18 new Retrievers this season with nine on the men's side and nine on the women's side, including three new divers.
Coach Cradock will bring four international students to Baltimore on the men's side in Haythem Abdelkhalek (Ariana, Tunisia/Sports High School Pierre de Coubertin El Manzah), Luis Galvan (Torreon, Mexico/Tecnologico de Monterrey Campus Laguna), Ilia Rattsev (Moscow, Russia/Gimnasium 1505) and Indiana transfer Sebastian Konnaris (Limassol, Cyprus/Grammar School Limassol/Indiana). Joining those four will be Anthony Bliss (St. Charles, Ill./Marmiom Academy), Ben Parker (Lawrenceville, Ga./Collins Hill), Connor Robison (Wallingford, Conn./Mark T. Sheehan), Jethro Ssengonzi (Cary, N.C./Green Hope) and Garrett Wlochowski (Manchester, Conn./Manchester).
The women will welcome a trio of Marylanders in Haylee Committe (Ellicott City, Md./Howard), Devon Gromen (Crofton, Md./Arundel), and Emily Vance (Finksburg, Md./Westminster). Joining the three from Maryland will be Megan Allison (Aiken, S.C./Aiken), Abby Biddulph (Egg Harbor City, N.J./Absegami), Shea Braden (Chaska, Minn./Holy Family Catholic), Brittany Coughlin (Stony Brook, N.Y./Ward Melville), Julia Horan (Bayport, N.Y./Bayport Blue Point), and Torie Wang (Mountville, Pa./Hempfield).
Coach Cradock also added a pair of former America East competitors in transfers Britt Driscoll (Wallingford, Conn./Lyman Hall/New Hampshire) and Holly Driscoll (Wallingford, Conn./Lyman Hall/New Hampshire).
"We are excited for our newcomers, both freshman and transfers. We have a strong class and expect them to make an immediate impact and expect them to have big performances by the end of the season," Cradock said of his newcomers.
Honors All Around
UMBC brought home a bevy of awards last season, both in conference and during the off-season. The men took home their second straight CCSA (Coastal Collegiate Sports Association) Championship, as Coach Cradock and his staff won Male Coaching Staff of the Year. Nikola Trajkovic won gold at the ECAC Championships in the 200 IM, as well as earning gold at the Serbian National Championships in a pair of events before earning CSCAA Scholar All-American status.
Joining Trajkovic on the CSCAA Scholar All-American list was then-senior Leo Endres, Gliese, and Spoerlein. Gliese would go on to win gold in the 200 back at the Danish Open. Wahby earned gold at the Dubai International Championships in the same event. Finally, McKissick won the Chesapeake Bay Swim for the third time in four years, posting a record time.
The women saw their own success, as the team won their second consecutive America East title with Emily Escobedo earning Most Outstanding Swimmer and recently graduated Coco Darelius taking home Diver of the Year. Hania Moro won the 800 free at the Egyptian Nationals, while sophomores Aleasha Knight (Ottawa, Ontario/John McCrea) and Laura Massicotte took part in the Canadian Olympic Trials. Escobedo also earned America East All-Academic honors before kicking off a record-breaking summer.
She earned points in two separate races at the NCAA Championships. The two-time UMBC Dr. Charles R. Brown Female Most Outstanding Athlete finished 15th in the 100 breast at the championships to earn Honorable Mention All-American, before earning All-American status with a third place finish in the 200 breast on the final day of competition. She then went to the USA Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. where swam in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke, earning a spot in the semifinals in the 200 breast, finishing 10th overall.
Look Ahead at 2016-17
Even with a bunch of new faces in the program, Cradock knows that the team must stay focused and continue to build on the success they have seen in recent years. "We are focused on what is in front of us, and will continue to build on the excellence that our program has displayed in recent years."