UMASS Men, Richmond Women Top A-10

The Atlantic 10 Conference named the University of Massachusetts men and the University of Richmond women champions of the 2007 Atlantic 10 Conference Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday night at the Flickinger Aquatic Center. The Minutemen captured their sixth title in seven years with 733 points, while the Spiders nabbed their sixth straight title with 737 points.

In the men's championship, St. Bonaventure University edged past Duquesne University to claim silver with a score of 510. St. Bonaventure's second-place finish is its sixth in seven years. Duquesne finished with 486.5 points. Following are the teams in order of points: La Salle (435); Xavier (348); Fordham University (318); George Washington University (260.50); University of Rhode Island (239) and Saint Louis University (238).

In the 1650-free, Massachusetts set the pace as freshman Justin Brooks took gold, touching with a time of 15:52.17. Duquesne sophomore Chris Kobela grabbed second with a time of 15:55.41 and senior Chris Ekimoff from St. Bonaventure claimed the bronze in a time of 16:00.86.

Fans erupted with applause after Massachusetts' senior Evan Swisher broke the A-10 record in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing first in 1:46.69. Sophomore David Zenk, of George Washington, took second and Duquesne senior Scott Darwin took third with times of 1:48.29 and 1:49.53, respectively.

In a close match, Massachusetts freshman Juan Moliere touched out Duquesne senior, Ed Wicker, with a time of 45.88. Wicker touched in 45.93. St. Louis junior, Brad Byars, grabbed third in a time of 46.16.

St. Bonaventure displayed a strong presence in the 200-yard breaststroke earning both first and third place. Freshman Mariusz Michalik cruised past the competition for the gold, touching in 2:03.83. La Salle freshman John Nemeth claimed silver with 2:07.29, and St. Bonaventure junior Scott Jordan rounded out the top three with a time of 2:07.53.

La Salle senior, Sean Connors-McBride, touched out the competition when he took gold in the 200-fly with a time of 1:50.67. Xavier placed second as senior Shane Jenkins finished in 1:51.72, and Duquesne senior Eric Bugby took a third-place finish in 1:51.93.

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On the three-meter board, senior Karo Isajan from La Salle captured first place with an impressive score of 617.65 smashing the Atlantic 10 record from 2001. UMass junior RJ Rappe also broke the 2001 Atlantic 10 record while nabbing second with a score of 579.10. Junior Donato Callara from Fordham University claimed bronze with 510.70 points.

The 400-free relay concluded the evening for the men. Duquesne University proved victorious taking gold with a time of 3:02.15. Swimming for Duquesne were Bugby, Wicker, Darwin and junior Ian Walsh. Teaming up for second place, Massachusetts freshmen Tervor Ziegler and Moliere, along with juniors Zack Priest and AJ Vorella touched in a time of 3:04.81. Taking bronze was the St. Bonaventure University line-up of seniors Dan Freeland and Ekimoff, sophomore Pat Henahan and freshman Roman Margulis.

In the women's championship, Massachusetts finished second with a score of 453. Following are the teams in order of points: Fordham University (425.5); Duquesne University (412.5); St. Bonaventure University (376.5); La Salle (356.5); Xavier (340); St. Louis University (307); George Washington University (151) and the University of Rhode Island (92).

Senior Liz Yager racked up points for Duquesne after she swam the 1650-free in 17:20.83, good for first place. Ashley Ukleja, a Fordham sophomore, placed second with a time of 17:27.45, and La Salle freshman, Dana Reis, finished third in a time of 17:32.31.

Richmond dominated the 200-yard backstroke, taking gold, silver and bronze. Junior Jessica Witt finished in 2:02.48, and the freshmen duo of Alex Helland and Beth Ann Platt placed second and third with times of 2:04.01 and 2:04.45, respectively.

In the 100-free, Duquesne senior Melissa Johnson nabbed a first-place finish with a time of 51.59. Katie Sieben, a Richmond freshman, followed close behind in a time of 52.48, and Massachusetts sophomore Liz Lovejoy snagged third in 52.67.

Richmond sophomore Lauren Beaudreau smashed both an Atlantic 10 record and an Erie Community College Pool record after winning the 200-yard breaststroke in a time of 2:14.87. Shannon Duval, a La Salle freshman, took silver and Anneli Johnson, a junior from St. Bonaventure, claimed bronze in times of 2:17.40 and 2:18.65, respectively.

Sophomore Elena Ramirez swam strong for St. Louis when she won the 200-fly in a time of 2:02.74. Fordham's Naopli placed second with a time of 2:04.44, and Massachusetts sophomore Christa Narus touched in 2:06.31, good for third.

Richmond clinched gold in the 400-free relay as Beaudreau, Sieben, Witt, and senior Caitlin Geary touched in a time of 3:28.46. “By winning, that meant we swept the relays,” said Spider head coach Matt Barany.  “That was a goal we’ve had for a couple months.”

The Duquesne team consisting of Johnson, junior Lauren Stephens, freshman Erica Smith and sophomore Katrina Streiner came in second with a time of 3:31.08. St. Bonaventure took bronze when junior Meghan King, freshman Allison Smith, sophomore Kaitlyn Heller and junior Taryn Ahern touched in a time of 3:32.55.

The four-day event hosted 377 athletes representing ten different collegiate institutions. Students and coaches traveled from as far east as Rhode Island and as far west as St. Louis to display their athleticism. The championships boasted a total of 1353 individual events and 93 relays.

Beaudreau, a sophomore, became the sixth-straight Spider swimmer to be named the Most Outstanding Performer, while Sieben was the fifth-straight Spider swimmer to be honored as the Most Outstanding Rookie Performer.  Barany, who earned his second consecutive Conference Championship as a collegiate coach, was named the A-10 Coach of the Year for the second-straight year, extending the Spiders’ streak to six-straight in the category.

Beaudreau had a breakthrough weekend capturing three individual A-10 records, as well as two school records, garnering the first A-10 record on Thursday night when she swam the 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.01, and then shattering her own Richmond and A-10 record (1:02.20) in the 100 breast on Friday night, logging in a NCAA b-cut time of 1:01.81.

“I think that tonight’s fun because all season long was focused on getting to tonight,” stated Barany.  “To get to this point and to get it done and to do it with pride; it’s fun to get here and to see the results.”

“I don’t think these women really understand the effort it takes to create this culture they are a part of,” said Barany.  “It’s really been fun.  The next big thing for us is selection day and to see who moves on to NCAA’s (taking place March 8-10).”