WORCESTER, Mass. – For the first time since 2012-13, the UMBC men's swimming and diving team was crowned the America East champions after the four-day competition, earning the top spot with 1,113 points. The women narrowly took second place with 789.5 points, just 4.5 points behind champions New Hampshire.
"We are so proud of this ladies' team this weekend. We overcame almost a 100-point deficit on the second day to get as close as we did is a huge accomplishment," head coach Chad Cradock said. "Although we came up a little short we put our best foot forward. Our ladies should be proud of who they are and what they represent as we a grateful for all of them."
The men rejoined the America East this past year after spending four years in the CCSA (Coastal Collegiate Sports Association), where they won three consecutive titles. In UMBC's first go-round in the America East, the team won 11 titles under Cradock.
"Our men are amazing swimmers, divers, and individuals. We are so proud to bring back the America East title to UMBC," Cradock said. "They have done what we have asked and gave of themselves for the program and UMBC we all stand proud"
On the final day of competition, the Retrievers broke four America East records, two of which serve as school marks.
In the men's 1650 free, junior Haythem Abdelkhalek shattered former Retriever Ryan Karrer's record of 15:31.99, set back in 2006, clocking in at 15:21.41 for a gold medal. Abdelkhalek's time now also stands as the fastest time in program history. Freshman Kai Wisner earned silver as he touched in with a time of 15:23.31, followed by senior Andrew Femiano in the bronze spot with a time of 16:07.85. Sophomore Connor Robison finished fourth in the event. Abdelkhalek and Wisner both earned NCAA B cuts in this event.
During preliminaries for the women's 200 back, sophomore Emily Vance reset her own school record of 1:59.42, the program's only sub two-minute time, by clocking in with a time of 1:58.87. During the finals, she broke her own record and the America East record set back in 2011, touching in with a time of 1:57.61 and earning an NCAA B cut. Junior Kelly Lajoie earned silver in the event, clocking in with a time of 2:02.01. Classmate Aleasha Knight finished in fifth.
In the next event, junior Alexander Gliese broke former Retriever Mohmed Hussein's mark of 1:45.45 in the men's 200 back, earning gold after he clocked in with a time of 1:45.27, and earned an NCAA B cut in the process. Sophomore Garrett Wlochowski finished second with a time of 1:48.25, followed by freshman Jeremy Gates in a time of 1:50.36. Junior Ali Lambert finished eighth.
After breaking the America East record in the 100 breast on day three, sophomore Luis Galvan took down another record as he finished the 200 breast in a time of 1:58.77, earning another NCAA B cut. He dethrones Kyle Ernst's record of 1:59.50 from 2011. Junior Connor Ganley (2:02.69) and senior Kyle Paxton (2:03.34) finished in the silver and bronze spots, respectively.
In the women's 1650 free, junior Hania Moro earned gold after touching in with a time of 16:53.55, followed by senior Carly Waters who took home silver in a time of 16:57.64.
In the women's 100 free, sophomore Haylee Committe placed fourth, while seniors Allison Caulfield and Allison Atkinson finished 11th and 13th, respectively.
In the men's 100 free, sophomore Ilia Rattsev earned gold after touching in with a time of 43.92, earning an NCAA B cut in the process. Freshman Jonah Pennington took home bronze, clocking in with a time of 46.18. Senior Jared Vance finished fourth.
In the women's 200 breast, junior Maddy Popalis took home silver after touching in with a time of 2:18.93.
In the women's 200 fly, UMBC went one-two on the podium, after freshman Natalija Marin earned gold with a time of 2:02.67. Junior Britt Driscoll came in second, clocking in with a time of 2:03.88. Juniors Laura Massicotte and Kelly Lajoie finished in sixth and seventh place.
In the men's 200 fly, senior Philip Adejumo took home gold after finishing in a time of 1:48.13. Freshman Jack Carlisle earned bronze after touching in with a time of 1:50.80. Sophomore Connor Robison and senior Andrew Femiano finished fifth and seventh.
The women's 400 free relay team of Committe, Emily Vance, Massicotte, and Driscoll earned silver after finishing in a time of 3:25.12.
In the final event of the championships, Rattsev, Gliese, Pennington, and Ganley took home gold in the men's 400 free relay in a time of 3:00.40.
Marin and Wisner were named Female and Male Most Outstanding Rookie for the meet. Marin won gold in both displicines of the fly, while Wisner earned three medals in the 500 and 1650 free, and the 400 IM.
"Natalia has worked so hard. Coming from Serbia she has had to make so many adjustments. The best is yet to come from her," Cradock said. "Kai is an amazing person who is dedicated in everything he does. This award is a consequence of all of this."
Rattsev was named the Male Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet. The sophomore swept his individual events, earning gold in the 50, 100, and 200 free.
"Ilia represents everything you want in a swimmer. It is hard work dedication and discipline that has got him to this point," Cradock said."
Senior Nikola Trajkovic was awarded the Dave Alexander Coaches Award, given to the senior who accumulates the most points at the championships.
"Nikola is very deserving of this award. Not only did he score the most of any senior this year, he has accumulated a lot of points over his four-year career at UMBC while we were in the CCSA. We are all proud of him," Cradock said.
Atkinson and Ganley were named the America East Elite 18 recipients for having the highest GPA among competing student-athletes, while Cradock and his staff were named the men's and women's Coaching Staff of the Year.
"I am so proud of Connor and Allison. The very reason we coach is to help our athletes get an education. Both of them exemplify the very best is what have," Cradock said. "I want to thank our coaching staff for doing such a great job. To be voted coaching staff of the year for both men and women is a such a compliment and a product of their dedication to our program."
The Retrievers will return to the pool February 23-25 as they compete in the ECAC Championships at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on the campus of Rutgers University.
Women's Final Rankings:
1. New Hampshire – 794
2. UMBC – 789.5
3. Vermont – 652
4. Binghamton – 485.5
5. Maine – 402
6. VMI – 134
Men's Final Rankings:
1. UMBC - 1,113
2. Binghamton – 817.5
3. Maine – 576.5
4. VMI – 258