Big Al Open has Rider in middle of the pack

By Thomas Regan

In the midst of an undefeated season, the men’s swimming and diving team finished fifth of eight teams in the Big Al Open at Princeton from Dec. 4-6, while the women placed sixth of seven.

The Broncs faced off against several talented institutions, including Princeton, Brown, Villanova, Pittsburgh and Dartmouth.

This level of opposition was higher than what the Broncs have seen thus far in 2015, but senior captain Jeff Prichard feels this tournament helps prepare his team for a run at its fifth consecutive MAAC Championship.

“The competition at this invitational is always amazing,” Prichard said. “The teams we compete against are incredibly talented so to be able to compete well against them is always good.

“We use this meet to really prepare us for our MAAC Championship meet. Being able to perform well at this meet is a good sign for that we should continue to do well throughout the year.”

For the men, junior Sam Cramer placed fourth in the 1650 free with a time of 15:32.43, while the Molloy brothers — sophomore Zack and junior William — placed fifth and sixth respectively in the 200 freestyle.

Both Molloys and their 800 free relay team, which includes Cramer and freshman Vincent Gibbons, took fourth place in their race with a time of 6:41.53.

Prichard and his relay team — Matthan-Matthew Martir, Maciej Paz and Adam Phillips — finished in sixth for the 200 medley relay at 1:31.43.

Freshman Leeanna Cass, senior Kaitlyn O’Connor, junior Courtney Reed and freshman Taylor Stalnaker took ninth in the women’s 800 free relay with a time of 8:00.02.

The women’s 400 free relay team of junior Ariana Palmer, Cass, sophomore Baileigh Vanderhoof and Stalnaker finished in 11th place with a time of 3:34.47, which Palmer says puts them right where they would like to be.

“Our relays performed really well. Some of our times that we posted will put us in top 3 at MAACs which is just what we were looking for,” Palmer said. “Everyone did better than we expected and we are looking forward to going faster in February.

“As for improvement, we have a lot of freshman talent on relays, and we have to get our reaction times off the blocks a lot faster for our transitions.  So we plan on working on those little things every week until MAACs.”

Rider will continue to prepare for the Feb. 10-13 MAAC Championship, as it travels to Seton Hall on Jan. 15 for its next meet.

Palmer hopes the team continues to swim well, and focuses on not letting this part of the season get to it.

“As a team, I believe we are looking to stay positive and be behind each other because, like I said before, it can be hard to swim and feel good because of the time of the year,” she said. “It’s starting to get cold out, it’s the end of the semester, so there’s lots of final exams and presentations. We have been training since September, so it has taken a toll on everyone’s bodies.”

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