By Paul Mullin
For the second year in a row, Rider’s women’s swimming and diving team placed second at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships and the men took third after the three-day competition at Harvard University. The women missed out on first by only 23.5 points, finishing behind the host team.
“Harvard won the [Women’s] Ivy League Championship this year, so to come in second to them is an accomplishment and we are proud of that,” said Head Coach Steve Fletcher.
The Modrov siblings once again paced the teams, with senior Priscilla and sophomore Drew winning six races and setting five ECAC records between them. The two were named the ECAC Swimmers of the Meet.
“With their performances they confirmed what everyone knew: that their swims at the MAAC Championships were special and worthy of national recognition,” Fletcher said. “They backed that up with action at the ECAC meet against some faster people.”
Fletcher was also recognized, being named the ECAC Women’s Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, although last year he shared the honor with Gerry Cournoyer of Vermont.
Priscilla Modrov won the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys (IM) as well as the 200-meter fly in ECAC record times. She was also a member of two winning relay teams.
The first, which won in ECAC record time, was the 200-meter freestyle with sophomore Brianna Burns, junior Kellyanne Tomasula and senior Erika Kreidel. The second was the 400 freestyle with sophomore Alicia Fimple, Burns and Tomasula.
Tomasula also took third in the 100-meter backstroke and second in the 200 backstroke. Burns placed second in the 200-meter freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle, and junior Lovette Leonhard was third in the 1,650 freestyle.
Conspicuously absent from the women’s results was star junior diver Amanda Burke. According to Diving Coach Dennis Ceppa, holding Burke out of the competition “was planned from the beginning” to offset the classes she has already had to miss to compete and those she will miss in the future.
“Amanda will be missing many classes in the near future to represent Rider at the national level, and this was the largest motivating factor for the decision to keep her back for this competition,” Ceppa said.
Although he did acknowledge the difficulty the coaching staff had in making the decision because of Burke’s high level of production for the team, Ceppa maintained that “academically it would have been a poor decision” to have her compete.
In her absence, sophomore Aisley Carter took fourth in the 3-meter dive but missed out on competing in the official 1-meter dive after failing to make the cut in the preliminaries.
The men’s team faced some extremely stiff competition. The winning Naval Academy team’s score of 703.5 was a solid 191 points better than second-place Harvard, and almost 300 points ahead of the Broncs.
Fletcher said that while the Broncs had trained all year to peak for the MAAC Championships, other teams at the ECAC meet had approached the season differently.
“The ECAC meet was their peak-performance weekend,” he said. “They trained the whole season for that weekend, to peak at that meet.”
Drew Modrov followed up his performance at the MAAC Championships last weekend, where he broke two pool records set by Olympian Michael Phelps by winning the 200-meter freestyle andsetting ECAC records in the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Drew Modrov was also a part of three relay teams, although none of them was able to crack the top two. The 200-meter freestyle relay, with sophomore Ryan Nelthropp, junior Brian Brady and senior Josh Rosenbluth, came in third; the 400 freestyle relay with the same lineup placed fourth; and the 200-meter medley relay with Rosenbluth and sophomores Mike Tubb and Dave Farfan placed third.
Rosenbluth also contributed individually, winning both the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes and placing third in the 200-meter IM.
For the men’s diving team, the competition marked the emergence of freshman Brendan Cavallaro, who placed fifth in the 1-meter and then took home the gold in the 3-meter.
“Brendan is a very talented diver and has enormous potential,” Ceppa said. “Unfortunately he spent many hours out of the pool and gym this year due to injury.”
According to Ceppa, once Cavallaro is able to completely rehabilitate his injured shoulder and take on the full training regimen, “he will most certainly become one of the top divers in our region.”
The Bronc divers now move on to the NCAA Zone A Diving Qualifiers, which will take place from March 12-15. Those who qualify will then continue to the NCAA Championships. The women’s championships are from March 19-21, and the men’s competition will be the following weekend.