(Originally published in The Rider News newspaper on February 28, 2003)
Both the women’s and men’s Rider swimming and diving teams took the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships by storm this weekend in Baltimore, placing first and second overall, respectively, and setting three new individual records.
Co-captain Melissa Michalov was named the women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer, setting MAAC records in the 100 backstroke (59.05) and the 200 backstroke (2:06.94) and sophomore Brad Lacey was named the men’s Most Outstanding Swimmer after setting a new MAAC record in the 1,000 freestyle (9:34.97) and winning the 1,650 free with a time of 16:10.06.
However, despite being the women’s second MAAC title in three years, Most Outstanding Diver-recipient Erin Moore said that the team did not go in expecting a first place finish.
“We thought Marist was going to take the MAAC, but we really wanted it,” Moore said. “Everybody went out there to win, but what really got us going was the support from the rest of the team, we were up on the deck cheering for the guys during every one of their races, and they were up there cheering for us too.”
The men, who finished second to Marist with a score of 961.50 to 798.50, were shooting for a first place ranking, but according to Lacey, were satisfied with their performance.
“A couple of things didn’t go our way; a few of the calls the refs made disqualified a few of our swimmers that really shouldn’t have, but we had a great meet anyway,” he said. “We expected to win, but we’re definitely happy with the results and we’re going to really train hard to make it up for next year.”
Highlights included, senior Rob Baier winning his fourth Most Outstanding Diver Award by winning the 3-meter (514.55) and placing second in the 1-meter (250.2), and the awarding of five additional gold medals to sophomore Sam Engle for the 200 backstroke (1:49.48), senior Cliff Young in the 200 breaststroke (2:23.87) freshman Kristen Enoch in the 200 breaststroke (2:23.87), sophomore Briana Cohen in the 200 butterfly (2:10.98) and the 400 freestyle relay team of Michalov, freshman Jen Feenstra, co-captain Melissa Morrissy and Cohen, who came in at 3:35.26.
“With the winning of that 400 relay, everybody was just so excited and it just made an amazing season come to a really fitting end,” Michalov said. “For me, being a senior, seeing everybody pull together like that and do so successfully as a team, made my last year with the group just so much better.”
Contributing to the team’s depth were second place finishes by Morrissy in the 200 breaststroke (2:25.29) and the men’s 400 freestyle relay, Engle, co-captain Brandon Pierce, freshman Daniel Burgass and Young, who touched out at 3:08.64. Sophomore Bobby DeSandre and freshman Lindsay O’Shea placed third in the 200 butterfly and 1,650 free with times of 1:53.91 and 17:49.88, respectively.
However, in addition to eight of their members, Michalov, junior Catherine Stafford, Cohen, sophomore Lisa Ferragano, co-captain Brian Tokar, junior Andrew Shore, Engle and DeSandre, being named to the MAAC All-Academic team, the swimming and diving squads have even more to celebrate, as they will head out to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships at the University of Pittsburgh, March 1-2.
“It’s a big honor because individuals need certain qualifying times to make it in to the meet,” Michalov said. “Last year the women only ranked about 18th at the ECAC, because we only had about four of our girls go, but this time we have about half the team competing, so we expect to do a lot better.”