By Carlos Toro
The men’s swimming and diving team won the MAAC Championship for a fifth straight year while the women finished second, further cementing the teams’ status as arguably the best swimming and diving program in the MAAC.
The Rider men finished with 906.50 points, defeating second-place Marist by 317 points at the championship that ran from Feb. 10-13 in Buffalo, New York. The Rider women finished in second place for the 14th time since 1998, 446 points behind women’s champion, Marist.
Head Coach Stephen Fletcher thought that both teams displayed the best of their abilities.
“It feels great,” Fletcher said. “The team is excited about it. I’m proud of both men and women’s teams’ performances. The guys are very proud of a tradition that they are starting at Rider of coming out on top.”
It was the largest margin of victory for the Rider men at the MAAC Championship in program history, as well as the most points scored by the men at the event. For a lot of the swimmers at Rider, such as senior Jeffrey Prichard, who tied for fifth in the 200 back, this championship was a standout of all the championships won during the unprecedented five-year streak.
“This championship was the highlight of my four years at Rider,” Prichard said. “This was easily the best one of the four that I won.”
Even though the women did not win the MAAC, coming in second was a great accomplishment for the team, according to senior Erin Westcott, who finished third in the 200 fly.
“The women’s team definitely had a successful year,” Westcott said. “Everyone worked hard and went into MAAC’s ready to perform. We trained and prepared all year to come and take second place back, and we were strong enough to do it. All the women on the team really pulled through.”
Sophomore Zack Molloy had one of the most impressive performances in program history. He was named the MAAC Male Swimmer of the Meet
by winning three gold medals in the 100 free, 200 free and 500 free. Molloy also set a Rider and MAAC record in the 200 free with a time of 1:36.87 and was part of four MAAC and Rider record-setting relays at the 200 medley, the 800 free, the 200 free and the 400 free.
“I thought my performance at the MAAC Championships was all right,” Zach Molloy said. “Most of the times I finished with were near my best ever but not quite there. I had the goal of winning Swimmer of the Meet beforehand.”
For the Rider men, the 400 free relay of junior Matthan-Matthew Martir, junior William Molloy, freshman Vincent Gibbons and Zack Molloy won with a time of 2:59.69.
Other results from the Rider men included junior Sam Cramer winning the 1650 free with a time of 15:30.49 and freshmen Lucas Musselman and Griffin Hutton winning the 200 back and the 200 fly, respectively.
Gibbons was fourth in the 100 free (45.47), freshman Carter Paules was fifth in the 200 breast (2:05.18) and sophomore Ben Smith was fifth in the 200 fly (1:53.10). William Molloy placed second in the 100 free (45.32), Martir was third in 100 free (45.38), junior Zach Mabin placed third in the 200 breast (2:04.39) and senior Wayco Bailey was third in the three-meter dive (297.10).
For the Rider women, senior Kaitlyn O’Connor placed sixth in the 200 fly (2:10.39), junior Jacquelynn Parker placed seventh in the 100 free (53.57), sophomore Tara Maniace placed seventh in the 200 breast (2:27.93) and junior Ariana Palmer finished eighth in the 100 free (54.00). Freshman Taylor Stalnaker was fourth in the 200 back (2:05.82) and sophomore Julianna Runk was fourth in the 200 breast (2:22.96).
While a fifth straight conference championship would be the perfect ending to the season, the team still has work left to do. The Broncs will compete at the ECAC Championship, hosted by Navy, on Feb. 25-28.