Bucknell sophomore Mike Nicholson captured the first Male Swimmer of the Week award of the 2011-12 season.
Oct. 12, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The 2011-12 Patriot League Swimming and Diving season is underway, with six of the eight schools having engaged in some form of competition since Sept. 30. It seems like a long way from now, but the 2012 League Championships are scheduled for Feb. 16-18 at Navy’s Lejeune Hall in Annapolis, Md. Preliminaries are set for 10:30 a.m. and each final session will start at 6 p.m.
American, Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lehigh and Navy saw action over the first two weeks of the schedule. The Eagles made their usual appearance at the Potomac Relay Invitational, with American serving as host of the swimming portion of the meet. The men and women combined for a fourth-place showing out of seven.
Bucknell opened the season with an unscored meet against UMBC in Lewisburg, Pa. Sophomore Mike Nicholson, who was one of the Bison’s top performers a year ago during an impressive freshman campaign, started his season in strong fashion with three individual wins against the Retrievers. His best showing came in the 400-yard individual medley, where he won by nearly nine seconds and was just four seconds shy of reaching an NCAA B-cut time. He also posted victories in the 100 and 200 IM races and was part of a fifth-place 400 free relay showing. He was named Patriot League Male Swimmer of the Week.
Another Bucknell sophomore, Kelly Pontecorvo, had a quick start to her season with first-place finishes in the 500 and 1,000 freestyles against UMBC. She finished nearly 21 seconds ahead in the latter race. Freshman Katie Hetherington swept the one- and three-meter diving events to take the season’s first Female Diver of the Week award.
Navy captured the other two weekly awards, with junior Laura Gorinski adding another accolade to her collection with the first Female Swimmer of the Week nod of the year. In the Mids’ 208-89 win at Loyola (Md.), the defending Women’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year posted three first-place finishes with victories in the 100 and 200 breast and the 200 IM.
Ben Freedman stepped up as perhaps the next big name in a long list of accomplished Navy divers. The sophomore from Kennewick, Wash., won the three-meter event in competition at Loyola (Md.) that also included George Mason with 348.35 points. He was named Male Diver of the Week. Senior Courtney Vandament garnered her first two wins of the season when she swept the two diving competitions against the Greyhounds, reaching 235.20 points from the one-meter board and 245.85 in the three-meter event.
Another team that jumped out to a fast start is Army. The Black Knights opened the year with both the men and women hosting Boston College and Stony Brook while the women also competed against Vermont. The men swept their meets to start 2-0, while the women went 2-1, falling only to Vermont. Junior Dan Foky won the 50 free and took second in the 100 free, while classmate Alyssa Tran took down two first-place finishes in the 50 free and 100 butterfly while settling for second in the 100 breast.
The first meet of the season between League opponents took place Sunday in Worcester, Mass., with Lehigh taking down the sweep. The men won 155-80 and the women recorded a 130-104 victory.
Friday marks the beginning of another busy weekend in swimming and diving. Army hosts Marist at 4 p.m., while American travels to crosstown rival Catholic for the first day of a two-day tri-meet that includes George Washington. The Eagles will host Saturday’s action.
The Navy women return to the pool on Friday as well, with the Mids going on the road to visit James Madison for a 4 p.m. start. All other teams will be idle this week.
Colgate and Lafayette will begin their seasons Oct. 29.
Patriot League Weekly Awards
MALE SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
MIKE NICHOLSON, BUCKNELL So., Chappaqua, N.Y.
Nicholson started off his sophomore campaign with a pair of first-place individual finishes in an unscored meet Oct. 1 versus UMBC. He swept the 100-, 200- and 400-yard individual medleys, and his 400 time of 3:58.75 was almost nine seconds ahead of the runner-up and four ticks shy of an NCAA B cut. His 1:53.88 in the 200 IM was 4.63 seconds ahead of second place. He was one of two Bison swimmers to win three individual events against the Retrievers.
FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
LAURA GORINSKI, NAVY Jr., Greensburg, Pa.
Gorinski won three individual events and was part of Navy’s first-place 200-yard medley relay foursome as the Mids handed Loyola (Md.) a 208-89 loss on the road. Gorinski won the 100 and 200 breaststroke events in 1:05.97 and 2:22.85, respectively, with a two-second margin in the latter race. Her third individual win came in the 200 IM, where her 2:14.85 clocking was nearly a full second ahead of second place. She swam the fastest breaststroke leg in the 200 medley relay, with Navy taking the race by 1.7 seconds.
MALE DIVER OF THE WEEK
BEN FREEDMAN, NAVY So., Kennewick, Wash.
Freedman scored 348.35 points from the three-meter board to give Navy first-place points in both of its meets against Loyola (Md.) and George Mason on Saturday, while his 284.75 points in the one-meter competition was good enough for first against Loyola and second versus the Patriots.
FEMALE DIVER OF THE WEEK
KATIE HETHERINGTON, BUCKNELL Fr., Houston, Texas
Hetherington started her collegiate career by setting a school record off the one-meter board with a score of 264.68. She surpassed the previous mark by more than six points. She completed the sweep with a 252.53 from the three-meter board, the fourth-best score in Bucknell history and eight points shy of the record.
LUKE HOFFER, NAVY So., Chapel Hill, N.C.
Hoffer won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events as Navy opened the season Saturday with victories against Loyola (Md.) and George Mason in Baltimore, Md. He won the 100 breast by 0.76 seconds (57.93) and was 5.3 seconds ahead of the field in the 200 breast (2:04.72). Hoffer was the only Mid to win multiple events in the meet.
ALYSSA TRAN, ARMY Jr., Yorba Linda, Calif.
Tran won the 50 free (23.88) and the 100 fly (58.47) and took second in the 100 breast (1:08.56) as Army went 2-1 in its first meet of the season, posting victories against Boston College and Stony Brook.
COURTNEY VANDAMENT, NAVY Sr., Coppell, Texas
Vandament began her season with a pair of victories in a 208-89 victory over Loyola (Md.). She took first in both diving events, taking the three-meter competition with 245.85 points, 37 points ahead of the field.
ALISSA LEUNG, LEHIGH Fr., Garden City, N.Y.
Leung posted wins in the 100 back and the 200 IM and was part of Lehigh’s victorious 200 medley relay during her first collegiate outing. Lehigh defeated Patriot League rival Holy Cross 130-104 in Worcester, Mass.
Patriot League Notebook
LEHIGH WINS FIRST MEET BETWEEN LEAGUE FOES
It didn’t take long for the schedule to reach the first meet of the 2011-12 season between Patriot League foes. Lehigh traveled to Worcester, Mass., to battle Holy Cross Sunday and came away with a sweep of the competition. The Mountain Hawks posted a 155-80 win on the men’s side and earned the W with a 130-104 triumph in the women’s meet.
The Lehigh-Holy Cross tilt on Sunday is the first of several meetings in the poll this season where one Patriot League team will battle another. As usual, Army and Navy will have their annual Star Meet in December, with the Black Knights hosting this year’s meeting Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. at West Point. But before that, Lehigh will entertain Colgate Oct. 29 in Bethlehem, Pa., and Navy will host three League opponents for a quad meet Nov. 5 at Lejeune Hall, with American, Bucknell and Lafayette coming to town. The remainder of any head-to-head meets between League opponents will take place after the New Year’s holiday.
YOUR HOST FOR THE EVENING
The 2012 Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships will return to Lejeune Hall on the campus of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., starting Feb. 16 and running through Feb. 18. Preliminary heats are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with the finals starting at 6 p.m. Navy and Bucknell have alternated the hosting duties for the League championship meet for the last several years. The Mids swept both the men and women’s titles the last time Lejeune hosted the championships in 2010. The men captured their seventh straight championship, while the women secured their record 10th title and snapped Colgate’s two-year run with the trophy.
NAVY AIMS FOR ANOTHER TROPHY
The Navy men extended their record run to eight consecutive Patriot League Championships last season when they captured the trophy at Bucknell. While the Mids have already secured the mark for most consecutive titles, they can focus on tying rival Army for the most men’s crowns in League history. The Black Knights dominated in the early years of the League, capturing nine championships in a 10-year span from 1992-2001, with 1999 the sole exception when Lehigh won the hardware. If the preseason poll is any indication, Navy will pull even with Army in most men’s championships at this season’s meet in Annapolis, Md. The men collected the maximum 98 points and 14 first-place votes, with Army (second, 83 points) and Bucknell (third, 73) splitting the remaining two. Lehigh was picked fourth with 59 points, followed by Colgate (56), Lafayette (33), American (32) and Holy Cross (14).
THREE OUT OF FOUR AND LOOKING FOR MORE
Colgate has won three of the last four League titles on the women’s side and led wire to wire at last year’s championship meet with first-year head coach Fernando Canales at the helm. The Raiders will look for their fourth crown when the championships return to Navy’s Lejeune Hall Feb. 16-18. Colgate finished first in the preseason poll with 95 points and 13 first-place votes, but the host Mids were right behind with 87 points and the last three first-place ballots. It was the Mids who snapped Colgate’s two-year championship run by winning the trophy in 2010, when the League meet was last held in Annapolis, Md.
APR GRADE IS A-OK
Patriot League schools once again excelled when the NCAA released its most recent Academic Progress Rate in May. Ninety-seven percent of League teams came in at or above the national Division I four-year average score of 970. In addition, over 65 percent of League teams tallied a score of 990 or better. Eighty-two teams from full-member institutions and 73 League-sponsored squads were awarded NCAA Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent of their sport’s APR.
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