By Paige McAtee
The women’s swimming and diving team was unable to repeat a MAAC Championship this season, while the men’s team clinched second for the third straight year. The event, postponed a week because of snow, was hosted by Loyola at the Mangione Aquatic Center.
Diving Coach Dennis Ceppa won his second MAAC Diving Coach of the Year award in as many years, his fifth overall.
“Winning this award means that my peers believe that I’m doing something right,” Ceppa said. “I don’t believe my divers would excel the way they do if I didn’t give them the same effort I expect from them on a daily basis.”
Rider senior divers Amanda Burke and Paul Apostolakis were named Divers of the Meet.
“Amanda and Paul will be leaving the MAAC a much stronger conference than when they arrived,” Ceppa said. “Their presence in the MAAC these past few years will no doubt leave a lasting impression.”
After day one of the MAAC Championships, the men were in second place behind Loyola by 3.5 points, and the women were also in second behind Marist by 56.5 points.
For the women, Burke won the one-meter dive with a new MAAC record of 319.10, and junior Aisley Carter was second in the one-meter dive with a score of 241.35.
“Aisley is often overlooked, but has now proven that she can hold her own within the conference,” said Ceppa.
Also, senior Kellyanne Tomasula was second in the 200 IM in 2:05.75.
The men also performed well on day one with freshman Brian Molloy claiming second in the 500 free in 4:36.67. Sophmore Brendan Cavallaro was second in the three-meter dive with a score of 317.10.
After day two of competition, both the men’s and women’s teams held on to second place.
Some great performances for the women were by Tomasula, who won the 100 back in 56.64, and freshman Kelly O’Conor, who was second in the 400 IM in 4:27.61. Also, Burke won the three-meter dive, her second event of the competition, with a score of 356.90.
For the men, Molloy clinched second in the 1,000 free in 9:33.08,while junior Ryan Nelthropp followed the trend, placing second in the 400 IM with a time of 4:02.75.
On the final day of competition, the women remained in second behind Marist 921-596.5 while the men followed suit coming in second, losing to Loyola 794.5-718.
Tomasula took first place in the 200 back with freshman Addison Oswald following right behind in second, claiming times of 2:00.62 and 2:02.38, respectively. The women’s 400 free relay of Oswald, juniors Brianna Burns and Alicia Fimple, and Tomasula won with a time of 3:27.67.
On the men’s side, Nelthropp won the 100 fly in 1:52.19, and Apostolakis also took first place in the three-meter dive with a score of 314.55. Cavallaro placed second in the one-meter dive behind Apostolakis with a score of 291.1.
Cavallaro, who had a second shoulder surgery at the end of this summer, was off the boards for the entirety of the fall semester doing physical therapy, but returned to practice in December and finished the competition with a pair of second place finishes and an NCAA regional qualifying score.
“This was an amazing feat,” said Ceppa.
Rider’s rival, Marist, won the event for the women while meet host Loyola (MD.) placed first for the men’s.
The Broncs’ next meet is the ECAC Championships held at the University of Pittsburgh from Friday, Feb. 26, to Sunday, Feb. 28.
Regarding the upcoming ECAC Championships, Ceppa expects all his divers to make the finals.
“I’m looking for all the hardware this time,” he said. “I want my team to bring home both Men and Women Divers of the Meet, and while I won’t be there to accept any awards, I would like my assistant coach, and wife, to bring home Diving Coach of the Meet.”
The Broncs are looking to improve on their successful performance at the ECAC Championships, where the men finished third last season and the women took second place.
“Last year at the ECACs we went second and hope to improve by winning the Championship this year,” said Carter. “We’ll be seeing a larger variety of teams so we are excited for a fun and fast meet.”
By Paige McAtee