By Steven Eggert
After the first day of events in the MAAC Championship, both the men’s and women’s team are tied for second place behind Marist. The Broncs will look to capitalize on their opportunities during day two of the final meet.
Since Stephen Fletcher became head coach of the Rider swimming and diving team, they have won or finished runners-up in the MAAC championship. Last year, the men finished first while the women finished second.
“We are all excited and everyone has been training so hard throughout the season,” said senior swimmer Carly Misiewicz. “We’re expecting to see some outstanding results.”
There are 13 seniors on the team — eight on the men’s side and five for the women’s. They’ve all had a significant role in and out of the water.
Senior freestyler Brian Molloy wants to end his prominent Rider career by celebrating a MAAC championship with the rest of his teammates.
“Finishing with a strong performance at MAACs would be the perfect way to end my swimming career,” Molloy said. “All the seniors are looking to end their careers on a strong performance and we have the mindset that we need to perform well in order to win.”
The women’s team has struggled a bit during the season, but there is a lot of confidence among the swimmers.
“Our dual meet record doesn’t reflect the kind of team that we are,” Misiewicz said. “We have been working so hard and this really is our year.”
Along with upperclassmen getting recognition throughout the MAAC for the entire year, the younger swimmers are stepping up and helping the team.
“The men’s team has a lot more training under its belt, and the freshmen have really settled in and become some top performers on the team,” Molloy said.
For men’s diving, freshman Wayco Bailey and junior Trevor Hiller have been two of the conference’s best all season long. Both have qualified for NCAA Zones and have been honored by the MAAC often.
“Hiller throws by far the hardest dives in the conference and he finishes everything better than anyone else,” diving coach Eric Blevins said. “That makes him the favorite. We’ve added to Wayco’s list of dives and have been working on his entries. They have improved quite well, and it has shown in scores.”
Hiller was awarded MAAC Diver of the Week five times this year, and he is confident that he can help the men repeat that success as conference champions.
“I’ve been working on cleaning up my dives the past couple weeks and really trying to perfect my entries,” Hiller said. “My mindset is that if I dive like I have all year, I should take gold in both events and hopefully help Rider cinch victory.”
On the women’s side, freshmen Emma Billerbeck and Virginia Bresko have improved in their first year diving collegiately and have given the women’s team a shot to improve on last year’s runner-up finish when they compete this weekend.
“Both being freshmen, we have been working on their competition nerves quite a bit,” Blevins said. “Having the girls on the team has helped out our team majorly. Our women now have a really good chance of winning the conference meet.”
This will be the last time that the seniors can compete with each other for a MAAC championship. The motivation and desire to be on top of the podium is immeasurable.
“Everyone on this team has impacted my life in one way or another and I couldn’t have asked for a better collegiate experience,” Misiewicz said. “I really am going to miss them after this experience is over. That’s why I want to go out with a bang this year and take home the conference title.”