By Brandon Scalea
The five-time MAAC champion men’s swimming and diving team won its first meet of the 2016-17 season on Oct. 8 against a talented George Washington program.
It was the 11th straight win in a dual meet for the men, who haven’t lost one since 2014. It hasn’t taken long for Rider to prove it will be a contender yet again this year.
Sophomore Luke Musselman said the team worked harder than ever this offseason in order to reach that unprecedented sixth straight title.
“We all trained really hard over the summer,” he said. “We made constant sacrifices in order to be ready, and come back to school prepared to work hard and be successful in a tough dual-meet season.”
The women’s team, however, came up short, falling 183-105.
The win for the Rider men owes much to the performance of a group of underclassmen. Freshmen Justin Carey and Cole May, swimming in their first collegiate meets, did damage for the Broncs. Carey placed first in both the 100m free with a time of 50.28 and the 100m butterfly with a time of 49.93. May picked up nine team points with a first-place finish in the 200m butterfly (1:56.52).
Musselman placed first for the Broncs in the 200m medley with a time of 1:55.86.
Musselman said everyone on the team contributed to what he felt was an awesome win.
“We really swam well as a whole, despite some of our best athletes being out due to injury or illness,” he said. “Throughout the meet, we all motivated each other to keep pushing harder. We knew it would be a tough meet, and we did everything we needed to do.”
Another sophomore, Joseph Warker, won the one-meter and three-meter dive events with scores of 317.48 and 265.28, respectively.
One of the main reasons for Rider’s success has been its relay team. Against the Colonials, the Broncs showed promise again. The relay team saw second-place finishes by seniors Sam Cramer, Matthan Martir and Will Molloy — as well as sophomore Vincent Gibbons — in the 400m freestyle relay.
In the 200m medley relay, Carey, senior Zach Mabin and junior Zack Molloy had second-place finishes.
Despite the loss, the women also showed a lot of positives.
Junior Julianna Runk was Rider’s leading scorer, earning 14 team points.
Also for the women, freshman Meg Tomayko made some noise in her first career meet. She placed first in the one-meter dive, and finished third in the three-meter board, with scores of 233.70 and 225.83, respectively.
To continue the impressive performance of the younger athletes, freshmen Natalie Carter and Olivia Iswalt contributed to a win in the 400m freestyle.
This was the first time Rider and George Washington of the Atlantic 10 conference met in a dual meet. The Colonials came into the meet ranked No. 34 nationally.
The Broncs will officially begin their quest for a sixth straight championship on Oct. 15, when they travel to Fairfield for their first MAAC meet.
With all the success the team has had in recent years, Musselman said it’s natural for the team to be confident.
“We just need to keep working harder,” he said. “I think we’ll be pleased with the end result.”