Men’s swimming powers to NESCAC title

Men’s swimming and diving won the NESCAC title at Bowdoin this weekend after holding off a strong late run from Amherst. The men saw their 103-point lead cut to just three points after the first two events on Sunday before regaining their lead to claim the team’s ninth consecutive NESCAC championship title. The final score of the meet saw Williams best Amherst by a margin of 1741.5-1641.5.

“A lot of people thought this was going to be Amherst’s year, and I think that made [our victory] sweeter,” Head Coach Steve Kuster said. “It’s always a little bit more special to win after a loss.” Williams fell to Amherst Jan. 8 by a tally of 132-111.

“We lost to Amherst earlier in the season,” said co-captain Gary Roberson ’11, “but we used that as fuel all season.”

The first race of Sunday was the 1650 freestyle, and Amherst dominated the podium, as the Jeffs claimed four of the top 10 finishes. The Ephs’ top scorer was Roberson, who finished in third. John Armstrong ’13 came in fifth, followed by DJ Taylor ’13 in sixth. Roberson and Armstrong earned NCAA ‘B’ cuts for their performances.

Amherst further narrowed the men’s lead in the 200 backstroke. The Jeffs claimed four spots in a top 16 that included only one Eph, as Philip Treesh ’13 took sixth in the event.

“We were expecting it to be pretty close,” Kuster said. “We have a really strong first day, and Amherst, on paper, was expected to have a strong third day.”

The men reestablished their lead in the 200 breaststroke, however. Paul Dyrkacz ’13 wrapped up an utterly dominant meet with a victory and an ‘A’ cut in the event. “Paul has been on since the beginning of the year,” Kuster said. “He trained exceptionally well all year … His swims were off the charts this weekend, and that really inspires the guys.” Chris Corbett ’13 took home second with a ‘B’ cut, Martin Soderstrom ’14 cruised to fourth, Eric Liao ’14 came in seventh and Greg McElroy ’12 wrapped up the podium in eighth.

“We knew Amherst would be strong in the first two events, but we also knew we’d pick up some points immediately after,” Roberson said. “We kept battling and our breaststrokers really stepped up. That’s when we knew we had this.”

The 200 butterfly solidified the men’s victory as four men scored points for the Ephs. Stuart Horgan ’12 took third on his way to a ‘B’ cut, while rookie Sean Sutherland ’14 claimed fifth. John Guiffre ’12 took home ninth and Ryan Marrano ’12 claimed 11th.

“Our breaststrokers really responded, and our butterfly kept us on top too,” Kuster said. “We were motivated on Sunday morning to get the job done then so we weren’t physically at the end of the rope on Sunday evening.”

The men finished off a decisive victory with a first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Tom Vieth ’13, Ben Wampler ’12, Dyrkacz and Roberson claimed a ‘B’ cut in a time of 3:02.31 that buried the Amherst team in a 100-point defeat.

Sunday also hosted the three-meter diving competition. The Ephs padded their lead with a fourth–place finish from Alex Long ’12 and a 12th-place result from Alexander Verschoor-Kirss ’13.

After the second day of competition, the men had compiled an impressive 103-point lead over the Jeffs. Saturday started with a fourth-place finish in the 200 medley relay. Soderstrom, Marrano, Wampler and Treesh combined for a time of 1:32.55, qualifying for a ‘B’ cut.
The Ephs helped establish their substantial lead with a huge 103-point swim in the 100 breaststroke. Soderstrom touched the wall first in an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 57.10 seconds. Four other Ephs followed Soderstrom’s victory with finishes in the top 15. Co-captain Andrew D’Ignazio ’11 swam to sixth, McElroy took home ninth, Daeus Jorento ’13 touched the wall in 11th and Chris Greeno ’14 placed 15th.

The men had another commanding performance in the 400 individual medley. Dyrkacz earned top honors with an ‘A’ cut of 3:53.41. Corbett and Taylor earned ‘B’ cuts with their fourth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively. The Ephs scored a total of 135 points in the event: Guiffre came in seventh, followed by Liao in 11th, David Thompson ’11 in 15th and Chris Picardo ’13 in 23rd.

The Ephs set the tone in the 200 medley, taking three podium positions. Roberson raced to a ‘B’ cut as he took home second place in the event. Vieth also took home a ‘B’ cut with a fourth-place finish, and Sutherland nabbed the last place on the podium in eighth.

The day closed with a tight competition in the 800 freestyle relay, where the men pitted a relay of Vieth, Taylor, Dyrkacz and Roberson against Amherst’s ‘A’ relay. The Ephs were ultimately unable to conquer the Jeffs in the event but brought home a ‘B’ cut with their second-place finish.
On the first day of competition, the men started the competition off strong, building up a 117-point lead over Amherst. Wampler, D’Ignazio, Vieth and Roberson opened the day with a victory in the 200 freestyle relay. Their relay time qualified for a ‘B’ cut.

Dyrkacz continued his impressive season by smashing the NESCAC record in the 200 individual medley. The new Williams record also marked a pool record and earned Dyrkacz an ‘A’ cut. A host of Eph finishers supported Dyrkacz’s swim: Taylor took fourth in the event, followed by Liao in eighth and Guiffre in ninth.

“Paul is someone we really feed off,” Roberson said. “We had Paul doing awesome things, and we had guys right behind him. Paul brings everyone up with him.”

The men were also dominant in the 50 breaststroke, as five Ephs banked points in the event. Soderstrom took second, Jorento raced to sixth, D’Ignazio followed in seventh, Greeno touched the wall in 10th and McElroy placed 11th.
The swimmers finished the day with the 400 medley relay. Treesh, Soderstrom, Wampler and Horgan garnered a ‘B’ cut with their third-place finish.

Friday also held the one-meter diving competition. Long led the team with his fourth-place finish, and Verschoor-Kirss garnered 11th in the event.

Williams garnered a number of other honors in winning the title. Head Coach Steve Kuster was awarded NESCAC Coach of the Year, and Dyrkacz was named Swimmer of the Meet. “Coach always pushed us to the next level,” said Roberson. “We had hard practices, and that’s never easy, but it was exactly what we needed.”

“We’re satisfied with our season so far,” Kuster said. “We’re looking to do as well or better in Tennessee … We’re emotionally drained now, but we have to get back to work right away so we can be ready for NCAAs. I want our guys to be confident; confidence will be 90 percent of winning.”

The men will take a large contingent of swimmers to Knoxville, Tenn., for the NCAA Div. III Championships on March 23-26. Swimmers who earned ‘A’ cuts automatically qualify for competition, while several swimmers with ‘B’ cuts will also be selected to compete.

“Half of the NESCAC team will be at Nationals,” Roberson said. “That’s going to give us a mental edge. Everyone will be motivated by our numbers and our potential to do really big things.”

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