Swimming & Diving Earns 14th Straight GNAC Championship

Swimming & Diving Earns 14th Straight GNAC Championship

BOSTON, Mass. – The Simmons College women's swimming & diving team won its 14th straight Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship and the Norwich University men won the inaugural GNAC crown this evening at the Holmes Sports Center Natatorium on the campus of host Simmons in Boston, Mass. The Sharks have also won the GNAC title in 15 of the last 16 seasons.

Simmons scored 1104 points, ahead of Regis (Mass.) 541.5, Colby-Sawyer College (510), Saint Joseph's College (Maine) (313.5), Norwich University (310), Husson University (297), University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) (280) and Elms College (174). 

The Norwich men tallied 348 points to outdistance Regis (168), Elms (113), Saint Joseph's (Maine) (93), Colby-Sawyer (80) and Husson (57). Five GNAC records were broken during the weekend for the men. 

All-Conference Team

Simmons won seven events on each day of the meet and broke eight conference records, including five on Day Two. The Sharks also posted four new pool standards during the meet. In total, 11 conference records fell during the women's meet, including seven pool marks. 

Sophomore Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) led all competitors on the women's side with three first-place efforts for the meet, including an outstanding effort in the 1650-yard freestyle on Sunday evening, where she obliterated the GNAC record by nearly 50 seconds, the school standard by just under 30 seconds and the pool record by 14-plus seconds with a time of 17:08.68. She also placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle to give her 74 points for the meet to tie for the highest point total for the weekend. First year Maria Soraghan (East Hampstead, N.H.) also tallied 74 points with two first-place efforts and a pair of second place showings for the meet. She turned in a winning swim in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.60 and later placed second in the 50-yard backstroke. Senior Natalie Giraldi (Bedford, N.H.) scored 73 points for Simmons and broke her own GNAC, pool and school record in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 30.12 to give her two wins for the meet. She also added a second-place effort in the 100-yard individual medley for the night. 

In addition to Scholand's 1650-performance, the other eye-opening effort for the night was when Norwich sophomore Elaine Dudley (North Waterboro, Maine) dominated the 100-yard individual medley with a time of 1:00.88 to clip the GNAC record by more than two seconds and supplant the pool record as well in her only race of the night. Her second win of the meet gave her 72 points for the weekend as the Cadets' top scorer. 

Regis senior Jessica Higgins (Peabody, Mass.) finished a point behind at 71 as the Pride's top scorer and racked up 37 on the night with a first place effort in the 100-yard backstroke on a time of 1:01.65, before finishing second in the 50-yard backstroke later in the night. Husson senior Lara Sarett (Smithtown, N.Y.) finished as the sixth-highest scorer for the meet with 68 points and earned first place in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:32.36 to follow a fourth-place showing in the 100-yard backstroke. 

First year Anna Leedham (Lowell, Mass.) scored 34 points on each day for Simmons, including a school and conference-record breaking swim in the 200-yard butterfly. Her time of 2:14.82 erased the former school mark, which had stood since 1998. Leedham also placed fifth in the 100-yard backstroke. Sophomore Sarah Leonard (Brockton, Mass.) picked up one of two first-place efforts for Regis on the night, winning the 50-yard backstroke with a  clip of 28.33 after placing fourth in the 100-yard backstroke earlier in the day. 

The other first place effort came on the three-meter diving board. Simmons first year diver Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.) locked into a head-to-head battle with Regis sophomore Elisabeth McQuaid (Marlborough, Mass.), who won on the one-meter board the previous day. The pair traded the lead through the first three dives of the competition, including a score of 38.70 to give McQuaid a 103.75-95.45 lead following the third dive. Manjikian responded by posting the highest-scoring dive of the event with 41.80 points, fueled by a pair of 7.5's from the judges, to close the gap to 140.80-137.25. Manjikian continued her momentum with a 38.70 on her fifth dive for a 10-point swing that gave her a 175.95-169.50 lead over her Regis opponent. McQuaid put the pressure on Manjikian, by scoring the highest dive of her set with 41 points to give her 210.50 points and create a 35.55 point-deficit for Manjikian prior to her final dive. The rookie scored a trio of fives from the judges on her most difficult dive of the set (2.4) to give her 36 points and a 0.55-point win. Manjikian's total of 211.95 was also good for a new conference record for six dives on the one-meter board. 

Simmons won both relays for the night, while ending the evening with a GNAC-record time of 3:39.52 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Junior Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) led the relay, before first year Olivia Walz (Natick, Mass.) followed. Scholand and Soraghan closed out the event for the victory. The Sharks also began the meet with a win in the 200-yard medley relay. Junior Jason Erichsen (Banks, Ore.) began the race on the backstroke, followed by Giraldi's breaststroke and the butterfly leg from senior Michaela Morris (Duxbury, Mass.) prior to first year Haley Summers (Hudson, N.H) closing out the race on freestyle. 

First year Jinnae Jang (Fall River, Mass.) and senior Makenzie Welch (Torrington, Conn.) led Colby-Sawyer with 63 and 62 points, respectively, for the meet. Jang picked up a pair of third-place efforts for the night in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard individual medley, while Welch placed second in the 100-yard backstroke and fourth in the 50-yard backstroke. Saint Joseph's (Maine) first year Rose Baillie (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) finished the meet with 44.5 points on a third-place finish in the 50-yard breaststroke and a fourth-place showing in the 100-yard breaststroke. University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) junior Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, Conn.) scored a pair of fourth-place efforts (50 and 200-yard breaststroke) to contribute to 44 points for the weekend as the team's high-scorer. First year Cricket Cavar (Vernon, Conn.) topped Elms with 28 points for the meet. 

Norwich's depth was too much for the field to overcome in the men's meet. The Cadets boasted eight of the weekend's top 12 point-scorers, including freshman Michael Pierce (Lutherville-Timonium, Md.), who shattered the GNAC record for the 1650-yard freestyle by almost 40 seconds with a time of 16:55.06 and later finished second in the 100-yard freestyle. The win was one of three for the meet for the rookie to contribute to 34 points for the second-most in the meet. Classmate Cameron Ferreira (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) picked up his first win of the meet with a first-place effort in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:21.45 in his only individual race of the night. Sophomore Austen Greene (Herndon, Va.) also picked up his lone win of the weekend on Sunday, winning the 50-yard backstroke with a clip of 26.02 to give Norwich six events for the night. 

Norwich also won both relays for the night. Freshman Joseph Clark (Acworth, Ga.), led off the 200-yard medley relay, followed by junior Dylan Henderson (Breast/IM/Free), sophomore Alex Digiacomo and Pierce to combine on a winning time of 3:44.71. The Cadets won the 400-yard freestyle relay to feel better. Freshman Sam Carlson (Dedham, Maine) swam the opening backstroke, followed by sophomore Will Micali (Brentoowd, N.Y on the breaststroke leg. Sophomore Harrison Brock (Alexandria, Va.) swam the butterfly clip, before Pierce closed out the race on the freestyle for a time of 3:21.14. 

Senior Nick Rainville (Reading, Mass.) made his last championship meet one to remember, winning all four events he entered during the weekend for a meet-high 36 points. He set three records during the meet, including a pair on Day Two. He won the 100-yard freestyle with a GNAC-record mark of 46.72, before setting a new conference standard in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:00.56. Colby-Sawyer senior Mason Amitrano (West Greenwich, R.I.) scored 23 points on the night to give him 32 for the meet as the weekend's third-highest scorer. He won the 100-yard backstroke with a mark of 56.28 in addition to placing second in both the 50-yard backstroke and 100-yard individual medley.

Senior Nick Bergstrom (Derry, N.H.) won the 100-yard individual medley with a mark of 57.13 to give him a pair of first-place showings. He finished the meet with 30 points to lead Elms and stand fourth among the meet's leaderboard. Freshman Kyle Urban (North Babylon, N.Y.) led Husson with 10 points for the meet, including third-place on the one-meter board on Day One. Freshman Joey Christian (Scarborough, Maine) and junior Stephen Quinlan (Andover, Mass.) each scored 11 points to pace Saint Joseph's (Maine). Christian placed fourth in the 200-yard backstroke, while Quinlan finished fourth in 200-yard individual medley.