Centennial Conference Championships: Day Two

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania, February 21. FRANKLIN & Marshall's men's swimmers posted two Centennial Conference (CC) championship meet records and four NCAA Division III B-Cut times during Saturday's portion of the CC Championships. The hosting Diplomats have been anything but hospitable, breaking off a 174-point lead on the field two-thirds of the way through the CC's final meet.

"I am really proud of the position both teams have put themselves in at this point in the meet," said Diplomats' mentor, Bob Rueppel.

F&M wasted little time in getting going. The Diplomats 200-yard Medley Relay team of Matt Jaffee, Tom Grabiak, David Apple and Matt Woods raced to a CC Championship record time of 1:34.20 to set the gold standard.

Peter Fishler posted the first of the Diplomats' NCAA B-Cuts with a 1:42.57 in the 200-yard freestyle. He edged out teammate Matt Woods in that race. That was the first of two F&M one-two punches on the medal stand. Freshman David Fell just edged out teammate and reigning 100-yard backstroke champion, Matt Jaffee. Both posted B-Cut marks with Fell clocking a 52.67 and Jaffee logging a 52.76.

That effort followed Grabiak's B-Cut performance in the 100-yard breaststroke. Grabiak touched at 59.86, .05 seconds off of his championship meet record pace swam in Saturday's preliminaries.

Sophomore Greg Mackinnon touched at 4:16.91 in the 400-yard Individual Medley. That gave him the gold medal and .46 seconds on Gettysburg's Pat McDevitt. David Apple collected the bronze medal in the 100-yard butterfly.

The Diplomats closed out the night the same way they started, posting a new meet record in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Fell, Grabiak, Jaffe and Fishler combined for a 7:00.31, giving the Diplomats the gold and an 8.02 second edge on the field.

F&M is poised to reset the championship meet record for team points on Sunday, the final day of competition at the 2009 championships.

For the women, Brittany McCabe completed a four-year run on the Centennial Conference's 100-yard backstroke championship in style, posting an NCAA Division III National Championship automatic qualifying mark of 57.36. The Diplomats actually lost ground on the race as their 2.5 lead was eclipsed by the four Gettysburg Bullets in the same final. Gettysburg's Emilie Youmans took silver with a B-Cut time, helping the Bullets get back out in front by 22.5 points.

Gettysburg holds a 33.5 point lead on the Diplomats heading into the final day of the championships. Washington College is in third place, followed by Swarthmore.

"I am really proud of the position both teams have put themselves in at this point in the meet," said Diplomats' mentor, Bob Rueppel.

His women's team has already scored more points this year through two days than they did in last year's entire championship.

The Diplomats overtook Gettysburg for first place with a second place finish in the night's first race, the 200-yard medley relay. McCabe, Samantha Sweeney, Jennie Payne and Katherine DeCrosta combined for a 1:51.43, for a silver medal. Washington earned gold with a 1:49.64, while Gettysburg earned bronze with a 1:51.79.

Gettysburg's Keira Heath defended her championship in the 400-yard Individual Medley, but F&M's Laura Bassford mitigated the damage, collecting silver with a 4:47.17. Heath posted a B-Cut time of 4:34.77. Claire Mansbach claimed bronze for F&M with a 4:48.73.

Meghan Karanian picked up the bronze medal in the 200-yard freestyle, but the Bullets swept fourth through sixth place to cut the Diplomats lead down to 2.5 points heading into the 100-yard backstroke. Karanian, Garland Bartlett, Kim Greenfield and Olivia Hill closed the night with a silver medal in the 800-yard freestyle relay. The F&M foursome clocked a 7:58.24, touching after Gettysburg's 7:55.36.

F&M will look to close the gap during Sunday's final sessions. Preliminaries get underway at 10 a.m., with the finals set for a 6:00 p.m. start.

Special thanks to Franklin and Marshall for contributing this report.

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