BOSTON, Mass. – The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team tallied 591 points, buoyed by nine first place finishes in 11 events, to lead the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship following the first day of competition at the Holmes Sports Center on the campus of Simmons in Boston, Mass. The Norwich University men scored 173 points to take the lead on day one of the GNAC Invitational this afternoon as well.
Five women's GNAC Championship records fell during the day, while four GNAC standards on the men's side were eclipsed.
Simmons junior Hannah Plourde (Westfield, Mass.) led all scorers in the women's meet with 42 points, while sophomore teammate Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) earned a pair of first place finishes on GNAC record-breaking efforts. First year Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) also hit the wall first in a pair of events for the Sharks.
Morris dominated the butterfly events for Simmons, posting a time of 1:01.85 to shave .27 seconds off the former 100-yard mark set by Regis College's Svetlana Loranger in 2012. Morris broke her own GNAC and school record in the 50-yard event with a time of 27.38 to better her previous conference championship time from last year by .33. Simpson shattered the conference record in the 500-yard freestyle by over 10 seconds and also topped her school and pool record with a time of 5:11.84. Senior Alex Vutech (Woodstock, Vt.) posted a personal-record time of 5:38.46 to place second in the event and junior Emmie Lindholm (Sterling, Mass.) was right behind her with a time of 5:39.05 to give Simmons the top three spots, a feat it accomplished four times during the finals. In addition, Simpson placed first in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:58.01. Plourde scored in three events for the Sharks, placing second in the 200-yard individual medley, third in the 100-yard butterfly and was the top finisher in the consolation finals for the 100-yard breaststroke.
Simmons sophomore Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) surpassed her own GNAC record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:07.40 to slice .44 off her record from last year and previously finished the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 26 seconds flat to finish second. First year teammate Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.) hit the wall ahead of Giraldi with a time of 25.49 as part of a sweep of the top three places in the event by the Sharks. She also finished second to Simpson in the 200-freestyle with a mark of 1:58.82. Junior diver Alison Gauvin (Whitefield, Maine) won the one-meter diving event with a score of 340.25 points in 11 dives.
Simmons won both relays on the night as well with Fleming swimming the lead leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay, followed by Simpson, junior Sarah Price (New York, N.Y.) and Giraldi to record a mark of 1:43.95. The Sharks capped the night with a victory in the 400-yard medley relay on a time of 4:23.87 to win by a near 12-second margin. Sophomore Lindsay Nichols (Kennebunk, Maine) led off with the backstroke leg, followed by junior Jordan Mattheisen's (Seattle, Wash.) breaststroke and Morris' butterfly. Junior Julie Nguyen (Salem, Mass.) closed out the race on the anchor leg.
Saint Joseph's College (Maine) scored 226 points to sit in second place in the women's championship and was led by junior Lauren Prue (Glenburn, Maine), who racked up 34 points on pair of seventh-place showings coming in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke and also placed eighth in the 200-yard individual medley. Senior Brooke Huberdeau (North Andover, Mass.) turned in the highest finish for the Monks with a four-place effort in the 500-yard freestyle.
Regis College finished the day in third place with 208 points and was led by sophomore Jessica Higgins (Peabody, Mass.) with 36 points, including a record-breaking performance in the 200-yard backstroke to eclipse her own mark with a time of 2:15.08 to better the previous time by .86 seconds. She also placed third in the 200-yard freestyle. University of Saint Joseph received 30 of its 207 points from first year Veronika Latawiec (Newington, Conn.), who finished second in the 200-yard backstroke and sixth in the 500-yard freestyle. Husson University placed fifth with 172 points, fueled by sophomore Lara Sarett (Smithtown, N.Y.), who won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:19.53 and later finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Norwich was led by freshman Jacob Rubin (Johns Creek, GA). who scored 18 points in the men's meet with a pair of first place finishes, including a GNAC record-setting time of 21.86 to capture the 50-yard freestyle and a first place effort in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 24.38. Sophomore Chris Danieli (Chelmsford, Mass.) was the top diver on the one-meter board with a score of 365.20 to score nine points for the Cadets.
Regis' men finished the first day with 121 points and earned five first-place triumphs. Junior Kiet Luong (Malden, Mass.) broke a pair of his own GNAC records with a time of 51.47 to better his previous mark by over two seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. He also topped the field with a GNAC mark of 2:00.42 in the 200-yard backstroke to shave more than two seconds off the effort. Freshman Joshua Unas (Santa Clarita, CA) took home first in the 200-yard individual medley on a time of 2:03.93 and later placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke. Junior teammate Cassidy Bastianelli (Newton, Mass.) also scored 16 points and broke his own conference standard with a time of 1:46.45 in the 200-yard freestyle. He placed second in the 50-freestyle for the Pride as well. Junior Bryan Johnson (Sudbury, Mass.) won the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:02.82 and also finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle for Regis.
Junior Ryan Burgos (Plaistow, N.H.) placed first in the 500-yard freestyle to pace Elms College, turning in a time of 5:04.89. The Blazers stand with 68 points heading into tomorrow's second day. Junior Ben Johnson (Belmont, Mass.) tallied 11 points for Saint Joseph's College (Maine) with a second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley and a fourth-place effort in the 50-yard butterfly as part of the Monks' 29 points.
The GNAC meet continues tomorrow at the Holmes Sports Center on the Simmons campus at 9:30 a.m.