Freshmen swimmers dove into collegiate competition, playing key roles in the College’s men’s and women’s season opening sweep at Montclair State University (MSU) on Saturday.
The women’s squad defeated MSU’s Red Hawks 148-73, giving the team a 1-0 start to the season.
In the first meet of her senior season, diver Kristen Simms posted a national qualifying score of 412:125 in the one-meter event.
“Everyone that swam main events swam well,” Head Coach Jennifer Harnett said.
The Lions captured the 400-meter medley relay by teaming up seniors Aubrey Horvath and Lauren O’Donnell with freshmen Tara Plusch and Kendall Warren.
“It was a good chance for a lot of the freshmen to swim without pressure,” O’Donnell said. “We lost a lot of girls to graduation, but the freshman class is working hard and we’re working together.”
In her collegiate debut, Warren also won the 100-meter backstroke in a time of 2:22:39 and the 200-meter freestyle in 2:04:61. O’Donnell took the 500-meter freestyle in 5:31:01 and Horvath captured the 50-meter freestyle in a time of 25.10.
Harnett believes the key positions left open by graduation will not only be filled by the talented rookie class, but by versatile veteran swimmers who are able to switch roles on the team.
“There is a lot of opportunity for people to shine this year,” Harnett said.
Sophomore Erin Stutz, who holds the College record in the 400-meter individual medley, swam and won the 1000 freestyle on Saturday. Harnett praised Stutz performance.
Fellow sophomores Jen Lyon and Beth Hurley also contributed to the win. Lyon came out on top of the 200-meter butterfly event and Hurley won the 100-meter freestyle.
The College’s men’s team finished first in every swimming event, handing MSU a 136-92 defeat. The College’s record is now 1-0.
“We swam well,” Head Coach Brian Bishop said. “We knew they were a rebuilding team, so we were just trying to work out our kinks.”
Junior Davy Bisslik won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:49.72, and was a member of the top 400-meter medley relay team. Other winning relay team members were seniors Wess Donnelly, John Malecki and Steve Nepola. The group swam a time of 3:40.97 in the event. Malecki also won the 200-meter IM in 2:06.72 and Nepola won the 100-meter freestyle in 50.66.
The men lost talented team members to graduation, but Bishop is optimistic about the rest of the season. “We had a real good recruiting year, and are hoping for big things,” he said.
“This was our chance to see our freshmen compete live,” Bishop added.
The freshmen team members won a number of events for the Lions. Anthony Bartolone took the 1000-meter freestyle in 10:30.41, Kyle King won the 50-meter freestyle in 22.61 and freshman George Savulich won the 200-meter butterfly race with a time of 2:03.03.
Other freshmen who contributed to the win include Jonaid Lone and Mark Rynone.
“We know what our upperclassmen can do,” Bishop said. “We wanted to see what our freshmen can do, and they swam well.”
“A lot of guys had some great swims for this early in the season,” senior Adam Beal said.
Junior Jack O’Donnell won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:07.23, fellow junior Brian Rahter took the 500-meter freestyle in a time of 5:08.90 and sophomore Steve Swenson won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:15.64.
“It was a good opener, and it helped us to gear up for the next couple of meets,” Bishop said.
The Lions next meet is at the Kutztown University with Franklin & Marshall College on Nov. 11, at 6 p.m.