By Rob Rose
The men’s swimming and diving team continued what is arguably one of the most impressive dynasties in all of college sports, capturing its seventh straight MAAC title.
Rider dominated the conference championships, beating second-place Marist by 50 points.
The Broncs broke eight records during the event, including four team victories; the 200 medley relay, 800 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 free relay, and four individual wins in the 100 free and 50 free by senior Zack Molloy and 100 fly and 100 back by sophomore Justin Carey.
Head Coach Steve Fletcher earned MAAC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year for the fifth straight season after his team amassed 718 points during the event. This is his eighth MAAC Championship as Rider’s coach, also winning in 2004.
“Coach Fletcher and Coach [Shannon] Daly are the best coaches I have ever had,” said junior Luke Musselman. “When they first started coaching here the team used to place close to last every year at the championship meet. Since then, they have built a team that is made to win. They started from the bottom and brought this program to the top through hard work and good training.”
Fletcher also won the title twice as the women’s swimming and diving coach in 2003 and 2009. Fletcher’s swimmers have compiled 14 MAAC Diver of the Year and 14 MAAC Most Outstanding Swimmer awards.
“Coach Fletcher has taken the team and instilled his unique coaching philosophy with them, making them not only better athletes but better people,” said Diving Coach Eric Blevins. “Hard work definitely does not go unnoticed and the results in the pool speak for themselves.”
Molloy received his third straight MAAC Most Outstanding Swimmer Award after contributing 60 points to his team and now holds the MAAC record for the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 500 free. Molloy has been Rider’s Co-Male Athlete of the Year for the past two seasons and was named collegeswimming.com Division 1 Male Swimmer of the Week last year.
“[Molloy] is without a doubt one of the hardest workers on the team,” said Musselman. “He’s always doing the right thing in and out of the pool and doing everything he needs to do in order to be successful.”
Carey followed up his 2016-17 Men’s Rookie Swimmer of the Meet performance by breaking two records, one of which was his own from last season’s MAAC championship.
Freshman Dillon Walles won Men’s Rookie Diver of the Meet after placing third in the 3-meter dive and fourth in the 1-meter dive.
Musselman took home the gold medal in the 200 back and was a member of the record-breaking 400 free medley team. At the 2016-17 MAAC Championship, Musselman finished second behind his teammate Carey in the 200 back.
“When I came to Rider as a freshman, the men’s team had just won their fourth championship in a row, so being able to help the team continue this dynasty that was started so long ago is truly incredible,” said Musselman.
Junior Vincent Gibbons finished second to Molloy in the 100 free and was a member of the 400 free relay team that won gold and set a new MAAC record.
Sophomore Cole May finished third in the 200 fly, earning a bronze medal, while freshman Daniel Bonge finished fourth.
The next event for the Broncs is the ECAC Championships hosted by Rutgers, on Feb. 23-25.