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UMBC Swimming and Diving Opens Dual Meet Season at Rider Saturday
The UMBC Swimming and Diving teams travel to Lawrenceville, N.J. to take on Rider in their first scored meet of the season. The meet starts at 1 p.m.
The UMBC men’s swimming and diving team continued its dominance in 2008, as the Retrievers won an unprecedented sixth consecutive America East Championship while earning their 12th straight league title overall.
“He was always our go-to guy in dual meets and championships,” Cradock said. “We’re looking for the next guy to step up and fill that leadership role, and I think between the returners and the freshmen we have coming in, we’ll be able to find our next go-to athlete.”
Depth will once again be the key to winning championships. The Retrievers return 13 upperclassmen, while 13 newcomers will look to make their mark on the program.
“Once again, I think our depth is really strong,” the coach said, “and as this excellent group of freshmen grows, we could be stronger than we have been in the past.”
The Retrievers return their fastest sprinters in sophomore Jason Mattingly and junior co-captain Eric Jones, both of whom made the final of the 50 free at the America East Championships, while senior co-captain Zach Vonder Haar finished 10th. They will be joined by seniors Matt Mattingly and Fred Deal, junior Mitchell Donovan and sophomores Evan Danz and Nour Saad to make up a formidable sprint group. Freshmen Steve Gallagher and Eric Surkovich will add even more depth and could make an impact in their opening campaign.
“We have a strong group of sprinters, but we’re looking for that athlete that has the confidence to step up and win on the big stage,” Cradock said.
Middle Distance Freestyle
UMBC looks to fill the massive hole left by Bronson in the 200 free with a very large mid-free group, led by Jones, who finished fourth in the 200 free at the AEC’s and sophomores Ben Wolbert who placed 8th and Mark Garbowski, who was sick and competed in a non-scoring capacity at the conference meet.
These three will be joined by a group of returners that includes Deal, juniors Danny Gray, Mat Carson and Mitchell Donovan, sophomores Tim Deklau and Andrew Reid and freshmen Rico Bado, Patrick Bryan, Preston Donovan, Sandy Haibel, Dylan Kent, Herol Marjak, Mike McGee, Alex Moothart and Nate Savage.
“What’s nice about this group is that a lot of them can also mix it up and swim distance events as well,” Cradock said.
While the Retrievers lose Evan Roseberry, who was solid contributor in the distance events the past four years, they will look to Carson, who earned a bronze in the mile, to lead a fairly young group. Garbowski could see time in the distance events, while Savage, Moothart and Gray will add depth as the mile was the only event in which only two or less Retrievers scored in at last season’s conference meet..
“Our distance group is stronger than last year and we have more depth,” Cradock said.
One of the strongest strokes for UMBC during the 2008-09 season was the fly, where junior Brad Reitz will look to continue a string of good results at the conference meet. Reitz broke the school record in the 200 fly on his way to a gold medal and also took silver in the 100 fly. Matt Mattingly and Vonder Haar both made the final of the sprint fly, while Wolbert finished fifth in the 200.
In addition, Cradock expects freshmen Bado and Marjak to make an impact, while Reid, Surkovich and Preston Donovan will provide depth.
“We look for our fly events to continue to be one of strengths,” the coach said.
One of the pleasant surprises last year was Saad, who earned silver in the 200 back as a freshman. “He did a tremendous job for us, and we look for him to continue to do well,” the coach said.”
Saad will be joined in the backstroke events by senior Keilan Freeman, who finished sixth in the 200, as well as Kent and Vonder Haar, who placed fifth in the 100.
Another Retriever who had a good first year was sophomore John Mendenhall, who claimed silver in the 200 breast and placed sixth in the 100. “He made great improvements over the year as he really bought into our system,” Cradock said.
Cradock believes Gallagher could come in and make an immediate impact, while both Mattingly brothers will contribute time in the sprint breast. Juniors Phillip Novotny, Dan Weston-Dawkes and Kregg Deery, who made the finals in both breast events, will provide more support.
UMBC returns the top two performers from the America East Championships in the 200 IM in Reitz and Matt Mattingly, while Carson, Weston-Dawkes, Deery and Freeman also return to form another strong corps for the Retrievers. Add in McGee, Bryan, Haibel and Kent, and Cradock sees this group continuing to excel at the conference meet.
“With Brad (Reitz) and Matt (Mattingly) in the 200 and Mat (Carson) and Keilan (Freeman) in the 400, we should be pretty strong once again,” the coach said.
Junior Greg Guseman, the lone returner from last year’s squad will be joined on the boards by two newcomers this year, junior Joe Cabahug and Andrew Eckhoff. They will be training under the tutelage of UMBC’s new diving coach, Petar Trifonov, who competed in the Olympics for Bulgaria.
“We’re excited to see our diving program grow and develop under Petar,” Cradock said. “You can already see the divers making great strides.”
The Retrievers kick off the 2009-10 scoring meet schedule at Rider on Oct. 17, while their first home meet is against Navy on Oct. 24. UMBC seeks its fourth straight George Mason Patriot Invitational title Nov. 20-22, and the 2009-10 America East Championships will be held in Boston from Feb. 25-28.
The UMBC women’s swimming and diving team looks to reclaim the America East title for the third time in four years after finishing second in 2009 behind Boston University.
The Retrievers return nearly 93 percent of the points earned at last year’s conference meet and add 10 freshmen while losing only three seniors. Head coach Chad Cradock see this squad having a good opportunity to win back the conference title.
“I feel we have filled those voids with a very talented class,” Cradock said, “and our returners have been training hard that I feel that we are definitely a stronger program than we were last year.”
The Retrievers return all of the sprinters from last season, including sophomores Abbey McKenney, Ashley Miller and Ashley Sippel and sophomore Kathryn Moorby and junior Erin Wohlers. McKenney earned bronze in the 50 free at the conference meet, while Miller made the finals.
“Sprinting is all about having confidence, and with us returning all of them, we should be able to improve in these events,” Cradock said.
Middle Distance Freestyle
Senior Sam Maccherola returns for her second season at UMBC after breaking the school record in the 100 and 200 free, while also being a part of four relay records. She earned silver in the 200, an event that saw six Retrievers score, the second-most for a single event at the 2009 conference meet.
Maccherola will be joined by senior Jennifer Esposito, juniors Danielle Cruz, Rebecca Godwin and Sarah Ryan and freshmen Amy Fay, Jennifer Kotonias, Tara Morrissette, Katie Powlen and Anna Plunkett to form one of the Retrievers’ greatest strengths.
“With the combination of returners, who really proved themselves last year, and our freshmen, these should be some of our go-to events,” Cradock said.
While the Retrievers return Godwin and sophomore Pink Kinanti, who both finished in the top seven in the mile, Cradock is looking for Fay and Powlen to bolster the lineup.
“We’re excited to see that event develop, because we haven’t had a lot of depth in the past,” the coach said.
UMBC’s biggest event a year ago was the butterfly, as seven Retrievers scored in the 200 fly, including the only gold medal of the meet, won by school record-holder Jennifer Esposito. Senior Lindsay Sherman also broke the school record time in the 200 at the AEC’s, finishing second. Cradock will look for senior co-captain Kate Chialastri, junior Sarah Ryan, Kinanti, Morrissette, Plunkett and Fay to help continue the great tradition in this stroke.
“It’s the second-to-last swimming event of the conference meet, so it’s very important for us to maintain our strength in that area,” Cradock said.
The backstroke is another area where UMBC had a lot of youth last year, with sophomores Laura Tilman, Moorby, Kelsey Fitzpatrick and Laura Rogers and junior Julie Cantwell leading the charge. With another year under their belts and the addition of Kotonias and McKenney getting a look at the sprint back this year, Cradock thinks this could be a breakout year for this group.
“I think this year, now that we’ve had a chance to get the freshman jitters out of our system, we should be able to do very well in the backstroke,” the coach said.
Another strength for the Retrievers should be the breaststroke, where senior co-captain Tereza Kaplanova claimed bronze in the 200 and fourth in the 100. Wenior Tina Cantwell returns after missing last season due to injury and she will provide a huge boost. The school record-holder in the 100 breast swept the breaststroke events at the 2008 America East Championships and will look to regain her winning form.
“We’re going to look to our senior leadership to continue to perform well for us in the breaststroke,” Cradock said.
Another area that Cradock envisions becoming a major strength for UMBC is the IM, with Kaplanova and Godwin pulling in top-six finishes a year ago and a talented freshman duo in Morrissette and Kotonias who could make an immediate impact at the conference meet. Those four will joined by senior co-captain Brittany Johnson, Kenny and the Cantwell sisters to add depth.
“With our returners and Tara (Morrissette) and Jennifer (Kotonias) having done extrememly well before coming here, our IM events will be one of biggest strengths by the end of the year,” the coach said.
Junior Amanda Shinholser, the lone returner on the boards from last year, will see three new faces with the additions of Carson Taylor, Victoria Monetta and Jacquelyn Menchaca. Add in new diving coach Petar Trifonov, who competed in the Olympics for Bulgaria and this is an area Cradock is excited about.
“With the addition of Petar, I couldn’t ask for a better situation with newcomers and developing them over a four-year period and establishing his own tradition,” the coach said. “They’re really fitting in well with the team so far, so we’re excited to watch them grow.”
The Retrievers kick off the 2009-10 scoring meet schedule at Rider on Oct. 17, while their first home meet is against Navy on Oct. 24. UMBC looks to win its second straight George Mason Patriot Invitational Nov. 20-22, and the 2009-10 America East Championships will be held in Boston from Feb. 25-28.