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December 7, 2016

Senior Day a success for UMass swimming and diving

There were several photo finishes inside Joseph Rogers Pool this season, and Saturday’s meet provided a few more. Nevertheless, the moment occurred before the Massachusetts men and women’s swimming team’s faced off against Fordham University Saturday.

Side-by-side, 10 seniors received a chorus of applause in what was their last collegiate race in front of their home crowd.

“It’s a special day,” Minutewomen head coach Bob Newcomb said. “We were standing room only. We had people out in the hallway who couldn’t get into the pool. We had a lot a people, and there was a lot of energy.”

The men and women’s swimming and diving teams split their last dual meet of the season.  The Minutemen defeated Fordham by a score of 179-114, while the Minutewomen fell to the Rams by a score of 188-112.

Before the race, seniors Tim Smith, Mike Berthaume, Andrew Willlbrant, Justin Brooks and Juan Moliere, as well as Joan Baltazar, Eryn Brewer, Ashley Dress, Liz Wester, and Elizabeth Walsh were all honored for their accomplishments as UMass athletes. But during the meet, it was the performance of a young sophomore that garnered many honors.

Jason Cook made history, as he continues to rewrite the diving record books at UMass. He broke his previous record in the three-meter diving record by earning an incredulous 369.30 points in the event. Cook followed up that performance with a first place finish in the one meter diving event. His standout performance earned him both the UMass Athlete of the Week and the Atlantic 10 Swimming and Diving performer of the week awards.  

This is the second week in a row in which a member of the men’s swimming and diving team has earned the Athlete of the Week accolade. Last week’s winner, sophomore Joey Sbordon, continued his strong season with a victory in the 200 freestyle. Brooks, Berthaume and Moliere all captured individual victories in their last collegiate competition in Joseph Rogers Pool.

 Minutemen coach Russ Yarworth was encouraged by his team’s performance, as he believes the squad is becoming stronger as the season progresses.

“We showed that we’re peaking and fine tuning at the right time of the season,” said Yarworth.

The team will be carrying a lot of momentum into both the New England Open and the Atlantic 10 Championship, having won three-straight dual meets, resulting in an impressive record of 6-2 overall.

The Minutewomen are now 4-4 in dual meets this season, but remained competitive throughout the day against a strong Rams team that was picked to win the A-10, and has not lost in a dual meet all season.

Captain Elizabeth Walsh led the 200 medley relay team to a second place finish in the first event of the day.  One of the most exciting races of the day was the 1000 meter freestyle, in which freshman Julie Magyar trailed Fordham’s Megan McGorry for much of the race. However as the race went on, Magyar began to pull even. As the crowd cheered her on, Magyar pulled ahead in the final lap of the race and defeated McGorry by just six hundredths of a second.

Hannah Swift and Michaela Butler performed well on the diving board, as they finished one and two respectively in the three-meter event. They followed that performance with a strong showing in the one meter event, in which they finished second and third respectively.

Both teams received strong collective efforts, but the day ultimately belonged to the seniors.

“I think Senior Day is always fun because we honor people who have put a lot of work into this program,” said Newcomb. “I’m very proud of everything they’ve put into this program and very grateful that they’ve been with us for four years.”

Jeffrey Engmann can be reached at jengmann@student.umass.edu.

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