By Jordan Hall
The Marist Red Foxes, an archrival of the Broncs for years, visited Rider on Saturday for the biggest meet of the season thus far. The Broncs lived up to the hype and swept the Red Foxes; the men cruising by with a score of 170-124 while the defending MAAC champions squeezed out a 151.5-148.5 victory on the women’s side.
Since entering the MAAC in 1996 with Rider, Marist has clinched 12 conference championships on the men’s side and 10 on the women’s, but the Broncs reminded them who last year’s champions were by bringing out the brooms.
“This gives us confidence that we have the horses to get it done,” said Head Coach Steve Fletcher.
Last season, the women’s team defeated Marist in the league championship 770.5-764 and the rematch this season proved to be even tighter.
Leading the way for Rider was junior swimmer Brianna Burns, who starred the entire meet, capturing first place in four events. The Chestnut Ridge native won the 200 free, 50 free, 100 free and set a pool record in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:34.74.
“Every single one of my races were so close, so after winning I was pretty excited and happy with my swims,” Burns said.
Fletcher has been very impressed with his top-notch swimmer.
“She was very fit when she came in the door and that’s really contributed to some great racing,” Fletcher said.
For the 400 free relay, Burns understands how important her teammates are, and she gives a ton of credit to them.
“I think my best performance would have to be the 400 free relay because I had a pretty good split and [senior] Kellyanne [Tomasula], [freshman] Addison [Oswald] and [junior] Alicia [Fimple] all did great too and it was a total team effort to winning that relay and getting a pool record,” she said. “It’s more exciting when you have other people with you because it helps you swim faster.”
Burns knew that this meet was going to be close and that the win was a special one when facing the Red Foxes.
“We all knew going in that this meet was going to be one of our closest and it was going to be a battle throughout the whole meet,” she said. “Beating Marist is always a great feeling. They are one of our toughest and biggest rivals.”
Tomasula answered Burns’ performance, having quite a meet as well. She finished first in the 100 backstroke, breaking her old record with a time of 56.81, while also winning the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.
The men made things a little bit easier as three freshmen elevated their game in a big way.
The first rookie with an impressive day was versatile Brian Molloy, who won the 1,000 free, 200 free and the 500 free. Following that up was fellow freshmen Johnny Funk and Julien Hensen. Funk finished first in the 100 and 200 backstroke and helped the 200 medley relay team to a first place finish as well. Hensen captured the 100 and 200 breaststroke, capping off the day for the male rookies.
“They’re improving and becoming more comfortable with college racing each week,” Fletcher said.
The two divers who are pretty familiar with first place finishes made things look simple. Seniors Paul Apostolakis and Amanda Burke won the 3-meter and 1-meter dives on their respective sides, closing things out for the Broncs.
Rider looks for its third straight sweep as they take on Lehigh on Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa.