BUFFALO, NY, February 21 — Little Miss Muffit sat on her tuffet and was frightened away by a spider.
It would appear that the nine other women's swimming and diving teams in the Atlantic-10 Conference have a similar aversion to spiders — particularly those from Richmond.
After Day 3 of the A-10 Championships at Buffalo's Flickinger Natatorium, Coach Matt Kredich's Richmond Lady Spiders have a commanding 565-398 lead over St. Bonaventure in their quest for a second-consecutive league title. Third is George Washington (the school, not the president) while fourth is U Mass (281).
The men's race is considerably closer, with defending champ U Mass trailing St. Bonaventure, 520.50-509. LaSalle (241) and George Washington (237) are next.
Kredich is only in his second year at the Richmond helm, but he has the Spiders flying, and the rest of the A-10 scratching their collective heads, wondering how he does it.
The answer is simple: good coaching plus talent plus an enthusiastic administration equal a championship program. Last year Kredich put the foundation in place and Richmond won the title.
With most of that team back plus some talented new recruits (including Massachusetts' own Brooke Boncher, a native of West Newbury), Richmond is poised to make it two titles in two years.
Massachusetts' senior Tommy Keane claimed gold in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:02.97 while classmate Conner Townsend won the 100-yard butterfly in 50.60. Senior Ryan Zaucha took first in the 100-yard back with a time of 51.79.
* * * * *
The Spiders got the proceedings off to a rousing start when they raced to the A-10 crown in the 200 medley relay, clocking 1:45.57 to St. Bonnie's 1:45.59. St. B's 1:45.46 is the meet-record from three years ago.
Richmond's team was comprised of juniors Mo Sabri and Calla DeRuosi, sophomore Laura Thomas and froshwoman Boncher.
Next came the 400 IM where Spider Mary Adams, fresh from her record-breaking triumph in the 200 IM a day earlier, laid waste to the field in the 400 IM. She won in 4:20.57 to teammate Elizabeth Cook's 4:23.92 and teammate Jill Squires' 4:30.10 for a clean-sweep.
In the prelims, Ms A was even faster with her A-10 record 4:18.87, well within the NCAA "B" cut.
B-squared (Richmond's Boncher) then earned her second individual gold of the Championship, speeding to a pr and Spider-record 55.28 to win the 100 fly. She had previously won the 50 free and her fly time is an NCAA "B" cut.
George Washington's Kristen Fagley was the queen of the 200 free, winning in 1:52.93. The meet-record is a 1:49+ by former GW All-America Bambi Bowman from the 1999 Championships.
In the 100 breast, Richmond's DeRuosi won in 1:04.68, just off the A-10 record of 1:04.42. The Spiders also scored an eighth-place here to further solidfy their advantage.
St. Bonaventure freshman Paige Crimmin set an A-10 record in the 100 yard back with her 57.11 to complete the women's individual events. This was the only race of the night where the Spiders drew a blank in the finals but Richmond's Laura Thomas won the consols (58.68).
Wrapping up the second day, the Spider 800 free relay team of Adams, senior Elizabeth Cook, junior Casey Dluhos and freshman Anne Kirchner won in 7:31.17 to St. Bonnie's 7:40.18.
Massachusetts' senior Kate Allery took gold in the one-meter diving with a score of 270.40.
* * * * *
On the men's side, St. Bonaventure was led by senior Borut Puje, winner of the 500 free, won tonight raced to gold in the 200 free (1:39.53) although U Mass took second and third.
Puje also anchored the Bonnies' winning 800 free relay that touched in 6:45.30 to U Mass' 6:47.19.
St. B opened the meet with a win over U Mass in the 200 medley relay, 1:31.74 to 1:33.82. The Bonnies' time was just off their record 1:31.44 from the '99 Championships.
U Mass senior Tommy Keane made his final race a memorable one as he won the 400 IM in 4:02.97 to St. B freshman Mike Petuck's 4:04.69.
The 100 fly saw U Mass seeep the top two spots, with junior Conner Townsend winning in 50.60 to senior teammate Chad Arnold's 50.91. The 200 free was all Puje and the 100 breast title went to St. B's Adrian Blasczak (56.11). In the 100 back, UMass senior Ryan Zaucha went out on top, winning in 51.79.
– Bill Bell