Look at Presidents’ Athletic Conference Swimming Thus Far

By James Bossert, Swimming World College Intern

GROVE CITY – The six women’s and five men’s swimming and diving teams of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference have geared up for another fantastic and competitive season. As with every year, each team brings in a new class that tries to find its place among the team and the conference.

The Grove City College Wolverines and the Westminster Titans have been the top two teams in the conference for a number of years, but the Saint Vincent College Bearcats and the Washington & Jefferson Presidents squads have been improving and closing the gap in recent years. The Bethany College Bison and Chatham University Cougars are also making moves to improve their performances at the conference championships, hosted by Grove City College Feb. 12-14 2015.

The first month of the season has been mostly training with the first competitions either this past weekend or this upcoming weekend and the freshman competing in their first NCAA competitions.

Bethany Bison

Both the Bethany men and women opened their seasons with three-win weekends. The Bison’s first meet of the year came October 24 with a sweep of Alfred State. The men prevailed over the Pioneers 101-78 behind two wins from Cody Hussey in the 500 free (5:24.93), the 1000 free (11:18.07). He lead off the fastest 200 free relay of the day with a 24.67, which would have been second in the individual 50 behind only teammate Kevin Bakowski, who earned his first individual collegiate win with his time of 24.17. The Bison won every event but one, the 100 back, in which they competed for points. The Bison women won with a score of 74-24 over the Pioneer women paced by Christine Pray recording wins in the 200 free (2:10.87) and the 100 fly (1:08.12) and the fastest time in the 100 breast (1:21.39).

The Bison then traveled to State University of New York- Cobleskill to take on the host Fighting Tigers and Raptors of Bard College. The Bison men bested the Fighting Tigers by a score of 131-89 and beat the Raptors 151-60 with wins from Jacob Collas in the 100 breast (107.65), Bakowski in the 50 free (23.84) and Hussey in both the 200 free (1:57.26) and the 500 free (5:21.95). The men sealed the victories with a win in the 200 free relay, as the trio of Jeremy Starr, Craig Starks, and Kelly Faralla teamed up with Bakowski for a final time of 1:35.27.

The women Bison won a close meet with SUNY-Cobleskill 114-100, but handled Bard with a comfortable 123-56 victory. Pray continued her impressive weekend with wins in the 200 free (2:10.00), and the 500 free (5:40.08). Marina Baker won the 50 free (25.99) before taking the 100 free with a 56.69 to win by five and a half seconds. Baker concluded her day by anchoring the winning 200 free relay teaming up with Alaina Geer, diver/swimmer Haley Ekaitis and Alexi Pyles. The divers also got into the action with Brandon Martell winning the 1 meter dive event with a score of 195.22.

The Bison kicked off their fall Presidents Athletic Conference dual schedule at Westminster College this Saturday, Nov. 1. The men suffered a 160-109 defeat but Hussey continued to impress by winning the 1000 free in 10:59.94— almost 20 seconds faster than his swim last weekend in the same event. He also swam to a second place finish in the 500 free (5:26.37). Starr recorded a second place finish in the 50 free (23.38) while Collas also fought to a second place in the 200 breast (2:29.44). Martell swept the 1 meter and 3 meter diving events with scores of 233.15 and 226.20 respectfully.

The women conceded a 152-94 defeat but were paced by Ekaitis who swept the diving competition. She won the 1 meter event with a score of 164.65 and the 3 meter event with 154.15 points. Also recording a first place swim was Baker, who won the 100 breast with a 1:14.07 before Alison Smith grabbed second place for the Bison in the same event (1:15.27).

The Bison host their first meet of the year this Saturday Nov. 8 when Baldwin Wallace University and Pennsylvania State University- Altoona roll into West Virginia. The men were picked to finish fifth by the coaches poll at the Presidents Athletic Conference Championship held in conjunction with the James E. Longnecker Invitational hosted by Grove City College February 12-14, 2015. The women were picked to finish sixth at the conference championships.

Chatham Cougars

The women’s swimming and diving team started the season off at the Westminster Relays hosted by Westminster College. The Cougars placed fourth out of six teams with a total score of 64 points. The divers stole the show with two winners on the boards. Emily Hinson won the 1 meter dive event with a 241.15 score while Alexis Rectenwald took the 3 meter board by scoring 227.20 points.

The divers also traveled to Clarion University to compete in a two day invitational. Rectenwald finished 10th in the 1 meter event, scoring 340.65 points. Competing against some high Division I and Division II schools, 10th place is a very strong placement for a Division III school athlete.

The Cougar women hosted their own Invitational this Saturday, November 1 with a second place finish in the four team field with a final score of 679, less than 100 points behind the winning Mansfield University Mountaineers. The Cougars opened and closed the meet with victories in the 200 medley relay (1:59.19) and the 200 free relay (1:46.85) with the latter courtesy of Rectenwald, Theresa Schrider, Anna Wolhaupter and Melissa Puskar. Katie Lee had a four-victory day by winning the 50 back (30.51), the 100 back (1:06.29), 200 back (2:23.65) and also swimming the lead off leg on the winning 200 medley relay. Rectenwald swept the diving events to continue a great season the boards while Puskar won the 200 free (2:08.27) to help pace the Cougars.

The women also opened up their Presidents’ Athletic Conference schedule with a home dual against the Washington & Jefferson Presidents on November 5 with a 156-84 setback. The Cougars opened by again winning the 200 medley relay (1:59.02) with the same four swimmers that won the event just four days earlier (Lee, Elina Lankinen, Schrider and Wolhaupter). Lee won the 100 back (1:03.26) while Lankinen won the 100 breast (1:14.54) and Rectenwald won the 1 meter dive competition (273.98).

The Cougar divers next compete with Carnegie Mellon University, Grove City College and the University of Rochester this weekend, Nov. 7- Nov. 8, for a miniature diving invitational while the swimmers will be at home competing against Penn State Behrend on Nov. 8. They were picked to finish fifth at the conference championships this February.

Grove City Wolverines

The Wolverines opened up their fall swim schedule on October 11 at the Clarion Fall Classic. Both men’s and women’s team finished second of two teams, with Division II Clarion University the other team that competed. The men’s team has less numbers in terms of members this year compared to previous years, but that didn’t hamper them in almost upsetting the Golden Eagles of Clarion.

Three members won a combined four individual events with Drew Nosbisch picking up two victories, winning the 200 free (1:50.54) and the 100 fly (55.21). Jeremy Kim won the 200 fly (2:04.83) and Caleb McKusick prevailed in the 100 free (51.19). The quartet of Jake Marino, Daniel Peng, Brett Gwynn and Jordan Dehli won the 200 medley relay to open the meet with a time of 1:41.06. Dehli, Gwynn, and Nosbisch teamed up with McKusick to win the meet closing 400 free relay (3:22.92). The women prevailed in seven individual events to help the cause. Megan Bilko took first in both the 1650 free (18:22.11) and the 400 IM (4:54.88).

Amanda Hutzelmann prevailed in both butterfly events winning the 100 and 200 in 1:02.47 and 2:22.08 respectively. Abby Jank nipped the 100 free (56.38), Megan Smith took the 200 breast (2:35.39) while Keegan Reed touched first in the 500 free (5:34.44). Bilko, Jank, Lauren Cassano and Amy Melnik took the final event, 400 free relay with a 3:44.80.

Grove City opened its dual meet schedule with a sweep over the visiting Allegheny Collage Gators October 25. The men took the close meet 138.5-123.5. Two freshman recorded their first collegiate wins, Gwynn who won the 100 fly (54.18) and Sam Archibald-Gutshall prevailed in the 1 meter diving event. Kim and Nosbisch continued to pile up victories for the Wolverines. Kim won 3 events, 1650 free (17:13.33), the 200 fly (2:02.79) and 500 free (5:01.47), while Nosbisch won the 200 free (1:49.74), 200 breast (2:16.11) and put up the top time in the 200 IM (2:04.00) swimming exhibition.

Marino, Peng, Gwynn and McKusick also won the 200 medley relay in 1:39.20 to start the meet of with a bang for the Wolverine men. The Wolverine women grabbed a 161.5-125.5 win over the Gators. Diver Carolyn Eckendorf swept both the diving events to record her first two wins of the year with scores of 1-M (226.30) and 3-M (241.20). Three women swept their respective events on Saturday, Smith in the distance events (500 free- 5:21.77; 1650 free- 18:25.26), Reed the breaststroke events (100- 1:10.91; 200- 2:34.02) and Cassano the backstrokes (100- 1:02.69; 200- 2:15.10).

Cassano tied twice on Saturday, once in the 200 back with Allegany backstroker Megan Feeney and then again with Reed in the 200 IM as exhibition swimmers (2:17.04). The women also swept the relays with times of 1:53.15 and 1:43.16 for the 200 medley and 200 free relays respectively.

The Wolverines started of their Presidents Athletic Conference schedule when they hosted the Saint Vincent Bearcats on Nov. 1. The men suffered a setback by the score of 143-132, with the meet coming down to the last relay. Saint Vincent prevailed in the 400 free relay but the Wolverines quartet of Nosbisch, Dehli, Gwynn and McKusick put together a stellar time of 3:16.88 to finish second.

The meet started out well for the Wolverines though by winning the first five events. Marino, Peng, Gwynn and McKusick teamed up for a 1:38.66 win in the 200 medley relay which is the top time in the conference. Nosbisch highlighted the day with three wins in the 1000 free (10:11.15), the 100 breast (1:00.65) and the 500 free (4:57.71). Other wins on the day included Kim (200 free- 1:47.91) and Marino (100 back- 56.94). Richie Klimek won the 1 meter competition in his first meet of the year with a confidence boosting score of 236.55. The women swam their way to a 152-118 victory over the lady Bearcats while putting up the winning time or top time while swimming exhibition in every event with exception the two distance events, 500 free and 1000 free.

Bilko won two events (200 free- 1:57.98; 200 fly- 2:12.77) and put up the top time in the 100 fly with a 1:01.47. Madison Van Dyke swept the backstrokes (100- 1:04.19; 200- 2:19.14) was on the winning 200 medley relay (1:54.91), with the help of Reed, Hutzelmann and Gallant, while anchoring the top time 400 free relay (3:42.44) with Cassano, Bilko and Jank.

The Wolverines continue their non-conference schedule with a tri-meet hosted by Carnegie Mellon University this Saturday Nov. 8. The University of Rochester (NY) will also be competing. In a preseason coach’s poll the women were picked to defend their conference championship title in February while the men were picked to finish second.

Saint Vincent Bearcats

The Bearcats opened the season with a combined fourth place finish out of six teams at the Westminster Relays hosted by Westminster College with 134 points, Division II Gannon University won with 260 combined points. The men finished in fourth place with 74 points and were placed by six top three finishes. The trio of Xander Emili, Adam Gordish and Zach Ligus had the Bearcats top finish when they combined to place second in the 3×100 yard Fly relay (2:41.91). Ligus split a 52.94 to anchor the relay. Emili and Ligus each contributed to three relay top three finishes.

The Lady Bearcats recorded three top three finishes in the 200, 400 and 800 free relays for a score of 60 points. The night was highlighted by second place finishes in the 200 free relay (1:44.24), swum by Sarah Robbins, Jess Smrekar, Paige Pecora and Marissa Frollo. On the 400 free relay. Frollo, Robbins and Pecora were joined by Katelyn Miller to swim a combined 3:49.13.

The Bearcats were back in action on Nov. 1 as they started their Presidents Athletic Conference schedule at Grove City College. The men upset the Wolverines for the first victory in program history over Grove City. The men won a close meet 143-132 by winning the 400 free relay by two one-hundredths of second. The team of Ligus, Adam Tran, Kyle Garase and Alex Bolen were able to hold off a late charge from Grove City to seal the upset victory. Emili won three individual for the Bearcats, including upsetting the defending conference champion, Jeremy Kim, in the 200 fly with a very solid 1:58.73, which is the top time in the conference thus far. His other wins came in the 200 back (2:05.00) and the 200 IM (2:01.43).

The win in the 200 IM along with a third place finish by Sean Doyle propelled the Bearcats into the lead with only the 400 free relay remaining. Ligus continued to impress with three wins. He swept the sprint freestyles with a 21.82 in the 50 and 48.57 in the 100. Ligus, while leading off the 400 free relay, blasted a 48.12 putting the Bearcats a full second ahead of Grove City going into the second leg. Bolen, just a freshman, stroked to an anchoring 48.53 to seal what could be the most exciting dual meet ending of the season. The Bearcat women suffered a 152-118 setback. Freshman Marla Turk won the 1000 free in 11:41.36 for her first collegiate win. Alexis Ferraco, Pecora, Robbins and Frollo combined to swim the second fastest time in the conference in the 400 free relay to the tune of a 3:48.32.

Ligus was named the PAC swimmer of the week for his performance against Grove City. Both teams open up their home schedules this weekend when they host University of Mount Union for a Friday night dual meet. Both teams were picked to finish third at the conference championship, with the women picked to tie with the Washington and Jefferson Presidents.

Washington and Jefferson Presidents

The Presidents started their schedule on Nov. 1 when they traveled to take on the Frostburg State Bobcats and the host Alderson Broaddus University Battlers. The men picked up two wins with a 168-83 victory over Frostburg State while also topping the host Battlers 135-107. Jon Krail picked up three wins in his first collegiate meet by winning the 1000 free (10:38.15), the 500 free (5:06.16) and the 200 IM (2:08.51). Nick WIllison swept the backstroke events (100- 56.14; 200- 2:02.17) while also anchoring the winning 400 free relay (3:22.41) in a 49.69 to secure wins in both dual meets.

The women nearly equaled the men in beating Frostburg State 167-82 while also coming out victorious against Alderson Broaddus 149-95. Jessica Sweitzer won the 100 free and the 200 free, 54.59 and 2:00.82 respectively, while also anchoring the 400 free relay (3:55.62) to a win. Rachel Murphy won three events, 100 back (1:03.71), the 200 back (2:19.40) and the 200 IM (2:21.56).

The women then traveled to Chatham to face the Cougars in their PAC opener. The Presidents won 156-84 with Sweitzer again leading the way by winning the 100 (55.74) and 200 (2:02.53) freestyles again. Jenny Matuszewski won the distance freestyle events with times of 5:38.45 and 11:33.42 for the 500 and 1000 respectively. Diver Jessica Suder won the 3 meter competition in a new natatorium record of 280.80.

The Presidents travel to West Virginia Wesleyan College to take on the Bobcats in a Friday night clash Nov. 7. In the pre-season coaches poll, the men were picked to finish 4th while the women were pick to finish tied for 3rd at the conference championships with the Saint Vincent Bearcats.

Westminster Titans

The Titans opened their 2014-2015 campaign by hosting the Westminster Relays on October 24. The men and women combined to take second place with 196 points and both teams taking second place in the men’s (100 points) and women’s scores (96 points). Lead by a first place finish by Sara Peace, Mikayla Morrow and Samantha Tower in the 3×100 breast relay, the Titan women recorded top three finishes in eight of the 10 relays. The men’s team were paced by Steven Brooks, Logan Gearhart, and Austin Karper whose first place finish in the 3×100 backstroke relay led to nine top three finishes for the night.

The next day, the Titans swept the visiting Lions of Penn State Behrend in their first dual meet of the season. The men won by a score or 158-121 behind multiple event winners Nicholas Smith, Matthew Baurle, and Mitch Stahara. Stahara earned his first collegiate win by taking the 200 free in 1:50.66 over teammate Jake Pletz and later prevailed in the 500 free (5:03.63). Smith took the 1000 free (10:20.18) and the 200 fly (2:01.31). Baurle swept the breaststroke events (100- 1:01.90; 200- 2:18.37), while also contributing on the winning 200 medley relay (1:39.11) alongside Brooks, Brad Kolesar, and Daniel Bogen.

The women took a 155-105 victory to tally their first win on the season. The quartet of Kelsey Reott, Tower, Rebecca Mobley and Megan Douds combined to win the 200 medley relay in 1:56.23. Anne Tillie showed off her versatility in the freestyle events by winning the 1000 free (11:36.26) as well as the 100 free in 57.58. Reott swept the backstrokes prevailing in the shorter distance in 1:03.62 before posting a 2:19.10 in the 200 and the fastest time in the 200 IM (2:21.75) as an exhibition swimmer.

The Titans hosted the Bethany Bison in their Presidents’ Athletic Conference dual meet opener this Saturday November 1. The men won with confidence, 160-109. The men were paced by wins by eight different swimmers in the nine individual events in which they scored points in. Smith was the lone dual individual winner by winning both the 200 fly (2:00.93) and 200 breast (2:27.41). His 200 fly time is tied for the second fastest in the conference so far this year. Logan Gearhart recorded his first collegiate victory by taking the 200 free in 1:52.34, as did Kolesar by winning the 100 back with a 57.56.The women claimed a decided victory, 152-94. Versatility was again the story, as it was with the men, with seven different event winners in the eight events they scored in.

Tillie picked up the double individual victories with wins in the 200 free (1:59.71) and the 200 back (2:16.25). Reott won the splash and dash as the only swimmer under 27 seconds with a 25.97. They were joined by other individual event winners Ashley Wyland (100 free- 57.44) and Rozick (100 back- 1:03.35) to post the top time of the day in the 200 free relay with a 1:44.40.

Both teams travel to Allegany College to face the Gators in a Nov. 8 clash. The Titan women were picked in the coaches’ poll to finish second overall at the conference championships while the men were picked to win the conference title a year after finishing second to Grove City.

James Bossert is a senior captain IM/backstroker at Grove City College. Bossert is in the top 10 in school history in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 IM.  Previously, he swam for 10 years with Falfins Swimming and has moved on to join the merges Colorado Springs Aquatics program that put Falfins and the Colorado Springs Swim Team together.