Broncs back on top, win MAAC title
By Rob Rose
After leading for the entire four-day event, the men’s swimming and diving team won its eighth-straight MAAC Championship on Feb. 16. Rider totaled 781 points during the event and outscored second-place Bryant by 239 points.
Senior Lucas Musselman continued his dominance in the 400 IM when he won the gold medal in the event for the fourth year in a row with a time of 3:51.42. Musselman added another gold medal and broke the MAAC record with a time of 1:45.88 in the 200 back.
“The 400 IM has been my favorite and probably best race,” said Musselman. “I was shocked to win the event my freshmen year and it has been a blessing to be able to defend my title every year since then.”
In addition to their individual success, the Broncs took home the hardware in a pair of relay events as well. Sophomore Daniel Bonge, Musselman, freshman Jesse Gibbons and junior Justin Carey won the 800 free relay with a time of 6:35.82.
Head Coach Steve Fletcher was named MAAC Men’s Coach of the Year after leading Rider to its eighth-straight MAAC championship and ninth of his career. Fletcher was given the award for the sixth-consecutive season.
“Coach Fletcher is an incredible coach for so many reasons,” said Musselman. “[The coaches] have instilled an honest, hard working culture within our team that you do not see on many other teams around the country.”
The 200 free relay team of Gibbons, Bonge, Musselman and freshman Jack Ruggieri won a gold medal as well with a time of 1:20.41. In the 400 free relay, Carey, Musselman, Bonge and Gibbons posted a new MAAC record with a time of 2:58.13.
Gibbons also won two individual awards with gold medals in the 50 free and the 100 free with times of 19.82 and 44.27, respectively.
In the 200 fly, junior Cole May earned a silver medal with a 1:47.52 time while Bonge received the bronze medal after he posted a 1:49.46 time.
Sophomore Dillon Walles, last season’s MAAC Rookie Diver of the Meet, was named MAAC Men’s Most Outstanding Diver of the Meet after he won the gold medal in the 1M diving. In addition to Walles, senior Joseph Warker earned the silver medal and sophomore Patrik Rollefson finished fifth in the 1M event.
Freshman Kyle Iorizzo won the gold medal in the 1650 free with a time of 15:36.01.
After three of her divers finished in the top five of the 1M diving event, Head Diving Coach Kristen Simms was named MAAC Diving Coach of the Year. Simms earned the award for the second time in her career after she won in 2011.
“Kudos to coach Simms, [assistant diving] coach [Chris] Blair and our divers. Patrik [Rollefson] has really progressed this year, Joe [Warker] is coming into his own and showing more confidence as a senior,” said Fletcher.
The Broncs set their sights on the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships. The meet begins on March 1 and concludes on March 3.