Ranked opponents give Lions a rude awakening

By Miguel Gonzalez
Sports Editor

At the start of 2017, both the men’s and women’s swimming teams encountered hard competition and endured multiple losses.

After starting the season undefeated, the men’s swimming team has dropped losses against West Chester University, 172-90, John Hopkins University, 156-103 and Rowan University, 178-122. At the same time, the women’s swimming team conceded a 190-94 loss to Rowan University.  

Grassi aces her diving events. (Courtesy of Sports Information Desk).
Grassi aces her diving events. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information Desk).

On Jan. 7, the Men’s swimming team traveled south to Baltimore to compete against Division II No. 18 West Chester University and No. 5 John Hopkins University. Although outmatched, the Lions showed their resilience against the Golden Rams and Blue Jays.

Junior Adam Coppola, senior Andrew Nesbitt, sophomore Alex Skoog and senior Ryan Gajdzisz placed first in the 200-free relay with a time of 1:26.01.

At the 200-freestyle, freshman Harrison Yi finished in second place with a time of 1:44.61 followed by Skoog in third and sophomore John Gregory in fourth.

Meanwhile, senior Scott Vitabile secured third place in the 100-freestyle with a time of 47.68 followed by Nesbitt.

“We faced three nationally ranked programs and while each meet posed different challenges, our focus for the NCAA meet has not changed,” said Brian Bishop, men’s swimming head coach.  “Our schedule is probably one of the toughest in the nation.”

The  men’s swimming team skid continued last Saturday, Jan. 21, when they endured a road loss to the 13th ranked Rowan University Profs, 178-122.

Skoog finished first in the 100 and 200-backstroke event with times of 53.21 and 1:54.12,respectively.

At the 400-free relay, Vitabile, Skoog and Gajdzisz and Nesbitt captured first place with a time of 3:06.59.

“Rowan was especially tough as it was the first loss to an NJAC school since the early ’90s,” Bishop said. “Rowan did a great job and won some close races that ultimately decided the meet. While the three losses were tough, they have no impact on NCAA qualifying.  If we swim fast at METS, then we will be in prime position for NCAA’s.”

While the men’s swimming team were battling the Profs, the women’s swimming team also endured to a loss to the lady Profs.

Senior Sarah Grassi claimed first place at the 1- and 3-meter diving events, scoring 312 and 277.80 points, respectively. Her performance earned her the New Jersey Athletic Conference’s “Diver of the Week” honor for the week of Monday, Jan. 23. In the midst, sophomore Gabi Denicola finished second place at the 1000-freestyle and 500-freestyle.

Junior Debbie Meskin capped off the meet when she garnered second in the 200-butterfly with a time of 2:18.26.  

The men’s swimming team looks to capture its first victory in 2017 when Stevens Institute of Technology visit Packer Hall on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. At the same time, the women will also be competing against the Lady Ducks.

“Stevens is ranked 16th in the nation, so we will face another tough foe on Friday night,” Bishop said. “We will continue working hard and fully expect to swim well. If a few things go our way early and we can catch some momentum, we will have a great chance to win. They are a tough team so we will need to have our A-game.”