BALTIMORE – Coming off of short rest from last weekend's meet with Howard, the UMBC swimming and diving teams head to George Mason looking to claim another pair of titles at the Patriot Invitational. The three-day competition kicks off on Thursday and runs through Saturday evening with two sessions being held each day at 10:00 a.m. and 6 p.m.
In addition to UMBC and meet-host George Mason, eight other schools – America, George Washington, Howard, Ohio. Richmond, Seton Hall, Shippensburg, and UNC-Wilmington – will compete in the invitational.
The men will try to claim their seventh consecutive Patriot Invitational title behind a trio of seniors. In the pool, Pierre De Waal (Pretoria, South Africa/Tuks Sport/Cleveland State) and Mohamed Hussein (Cairo, Egypt/Victory College) have combined to win 18 individual events this season after claiming a total of three wins last weekend against the Bison. In that meet, Hussein broke the UMBC Aquatic Complex record in the 200-yd. IM with a time of 1:51.92. He also claimed victory in the 100 back while De Waal won the 200 fly in a season-best time of 1:51.08.
On the diving boards, senior Andrew Eckhoff (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) has already gained four event wins this season and qualified for the NCAA Zones diving meet this past weekend. Last year's America East Most Outstanding Male Diver, Eckhoff has already been named the conference Diver of the Week three times this season after garnering the accolade six times a year ago. During the 2011-12 season, Eckhoff broke the UMBC school record in the 3-meter event in October, and then reset his own standard by scoring a 361.20 at Drexel in February.
The Retrievers has also received significant contributions from numerous other athletes, most notably sophomore Lauri Kaei (Harjumaa, Estonia/Tallin Secondary Science) and junior Johan Rohtla (Tallinn, Estonia/Tallinn Secondary Science. Kaei has won five individual events this year, including the 100 back twice, while his countryman has earned the top spot on three occasions. In addition, UMBC has swept the relay events in each of its four dual meets this season.
Meanwhile, the UMBC women will be gunning for their fifth win in the past six years and fourth title in a row. Despite losing key seniors to graduation, the Retrievers have come out strong this season behind a unified team effort.
Twelve different athletes have won at least one dual meet event this season led by senior Jennifer Kotonias (Burtonsville, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) who has picked up a team-best five victories. The versatile senior has won the 200 fly twice this season to go along with wins in the 100 fly, 200 IM, and 100 back.
Kotonias has received plenty of support from her teammates as juniors Erika Ronning (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) and Talor Tadena (Orangevale, Calif./Bella Vista) have each won four events this season. Seniors Amy Fay (Haverhill, Mass./Haverhill) and Claire Barron (Lowestoft, England/Benjamin Britten/New Orleans) each have won multiple events this year, combining for five victories.
The Retriever women have also put together a strong diving squad this season behind sophomore Katie Bean (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) and freshman Corinna Darelius (Rye, N.Y./Rye). Each has swept the two events in a single meet this season and were rewarded with America East Female Diver of the Week honors, respectively.