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Back on Top: Men’s Swimming and Diving Claims America East Title; Women Finish Second Behind New Hampshire
Team Captains Claire Barron and Jenn Kotonias
Most Outstanding Diver Katie Bean
ORONO, Maine – The UMBC men’s swimming and diving team claimed its ninth America East title since joining the conference in 2003-04, and 15th total conference championship, Sunday evening at the Stanley M. Wallace Pool at the University of Maine. The women placed second for a second-straight year, finishing behind the University of New Hampshire.
The men topped the standings with a meet record 1,075 points, ahead of Binghamton (856) and host Maine (589). UNH won its fifth conference title and first since 2006 with 858 points while the Retrievers were just behind with 818.5 pts. Vermont (548), Maine (454.5), and Binghamton (417) finished the women’s team `scoring.
With the men’s team title, the 11th under head coach Chad Cradock, the Retrievers’ staff of Cradock and his assistants Chris Gibeau and Rob Bellamy, in addition to diving coach Petar Trifonov, earned the Coaching Staff of the Year Award. This is the fourth time that Cradock and his staff have won the award in the America East.
The Retrievers were led throughout the meet by America East Most Outstanding Male Swimmer junior Mohamed Hussein (Cairo, Egypt/Victory College) and America East Most Outstanding Male Diver Andrew Eckhoff (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford), both of whom repeated with the individual awards. Eckhoff won both diving events for the second year in a row.
Hussein closed out his championship meet in style on Sunday by winning the 200 backstroke in a conference, meet, pool, and school record time of 1:45.45 for his third individual gold medal of the weekend. He also anchored the 400 free relay to a win in the final event of the meet. Junior Johan Rohtla (Tallinn, Estonia/Tallinn Secondary Science) picked up the silver medal in the back, while freshman Doug McCord (Ewing, N.J./Pennington School) took sixth in the finals.
Senior Pierre De Waal (Pretoria, South Africa/Tuks Sport/Cleveland State) equaled Hussein’s three wins at the conference meet by finishing his America East career by topping the 200 fly field with a pool record and NCAA consideration time of 1:46.93. Senior Sandy Haibel (Rockville, Md./Richard Montgomery) earned the silver medal in the event and finished his four-year career by winning the Coaches’ Award for accumulating the most points over the last four years at the championships.
In the first event of the night, sophomore Rob Breen (Danvers, Mass./St. John’s Prep) barely touched out senior Alex Moothart (Hopkinton, Mass./Hopkinton) for the gold in the 1,650 free with a personal-best time of 15:43.37. Junior Reed Neuendorf (Blauvelt, N.Y./Tappan Zee) made it a clean sweep of the top medals for the Retrievers by winning the bronze medal.
Freshman Leo Endres (Bamberg, Germany/Kaiser Heinrich) gave UMBC another win on the final day by winning the 200 breaststroke in a school and pool record time of 2:00.86. Classmate Daniel Cano (Madrid, Spain/IES Ortega y Gasset) was just behind at 2:01.52 and junior Patrick Husseon (Camp Springs, Md./DeMatha) took the bronze.
In the only non-win of the night for UMBC, junior Evan Carey (Grand Island, N.Y./Grand Island), senior Herol Marjak (Harjumaa, Estonia/Tallinn Secondary Science), and sophomore Lauri Kaei (Harjumaa, Estonia/Tallinn Secondary Science) all earned top-five finishes in the 100 free. Carey’s time of 45.89 was a life-time best and earned him the silver medal.
With the diving events complete, sophomore Katie Bean (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Female Diver. Bean won the 1-meter event on Friday after taking silver in the 3-meter competition on Thursday.
On Sunday, senior Amy Fay (Haverhill, Mass./Haverhill) started the night well for the Retrievers by garnering the silver medal in the 1,650 free to complete her meet with three medals after winning the 500 free and placing third in the 200. Classmate Katie Powlen (Southborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional) placed eighth in the mile event.
In the 200 back, junior Klara Pavelkova (Prague, Czech Republic/Gymnasium Pripotocni) set a personal-best in the prelims with a time of 2:01.79, and followed it in the finals by winning the bronze medal. Senior Elise Blaschke (Washington Township, N.J./Bishop Eustace Prep) was just behind her teammate in fourth-place.
Junior Talor Tadena (Orangevale, Calif./Bella Vista) earned the Retrievers’ only individual win of the night by taking the top spot in the 100 free with a personal-best mark and second-fastest time in UMBC history (50.83). Classmate Erika Ronning (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) finished second with a time of 51.07 while Blaschke placed eighth.
A trio of Retrievers competed in the finals of the 200 breaststroke with sophomore Rebecca Pindral (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch) taking fourth-place. Senior Claire Barron (Lowestoft, England/Benjamin Britten/New Orleans) completed her career with a sixth-place showing while sophomore Lexi Coon (Camden, Del./Milford) took seventh.
In the final individual event of the day, seniors Jennifer Kotonias (Burtonsville, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) and Tara Morrissette (Somerworth, N.H./Saint Thomas Aquinas) finished third and fourth, respectively. Following the meet, Morrissette was awarded the America East Coaches’ Award for accumulating the most points of any female athlete over the past four championship meets.
The Retrievers then finished off the four-day meet by sweeping the 400 free relays. In the women’s race, Tadena made a stirring charge on the final leg to put UMBC past UNH by just .01 For the men, Hussein pulled away from his Binghamton counterpart to end the meet with a bang.
UMBC will now send swimmers and divers to the ECAC Championship at Harvard University on the first weekend of March.