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Minutemen capture 12th A-10 title, Minutewomen take third in championships

The winning tradition continues for the Massachusetts men’s swimming diving team.

After capturing an impressive fourth-straight Atlantic 10 title, and the program’s 12th conference title overall, UMass head coach Russ Yarworth was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. Yarworth received the award last year, and explained that the success of the team has a lot to do with an established tradition, as well as hard work.

“I’m happy and very pleased overall with our performance,” Yarworth said. They deserve it, they work hard all year, and they’ve persevered. They do a lot of hard work, but I think they enjoy the reward.”

The men’s team has been lead all season by its senior class, who will end their careers winning every A-10 title throughout their time at UMass.

“They came in as freshmen and got introduced to the tradition, then they became a part of it and help continue it, and now hopefully as alumni, they’ll come back and help keep it going,” Yarworth said.

In his last A-10 championship, senior Andrew Wilbrandt defended his title for a third consecutive time, as he took home an unprecedented fourth-straight gold medal in the 100 backstroke event.  Wilbrandt also finished first in the 200 backstroke as well as the 200 individual medley race.

His strong effort throughout the conference championships earned him the Atlantic-10 Athlete of the Week, along with sophomore diver Jason Cook.

The men’s team got off to a fast start and seemingly never looked back in large part due to the standout sophomore diver.

On day one, Cook once again took home the title in the one meter diving event with a score of 333.05. He was named the Atlantic 10 Diver of the Year, his second in two years, for his strong diving throughout this season, including his impressive display during the A-10’s.

 Cook’s teammates also had strong performances during the conference championships. Junior John Clark finished just behind Cook with a score of 283.35 in the one-meter event, while Adam Duffield placed fifth in the event.

The Minutemen received contributions from several members. Senior Mike Berthaume had a strong showing in his last conference championship, as his time of 48.73 seconds earned him his first gold medal in the 100 butterfly, as it was the second fastest time in school history.  Dan Backler had his most impressive showing of the season in the Minutemen’s final meet. In the 200 breaststroke, the junior finished in third place, finishing with a time of 2:05:60.

Sophomore Joey Sbordon took first place in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 15:49. Of all the performances, coach Yarworth stated the performance of Kyle Jennings stood out most, as the sophomore, recorded three personal bests during the championships.

Overall, the Minutewomen had one of their strongest showings in recent history, as they finished third overall, just behind second place finishers Rhode Island and pre-season favorite Fordham, who ended the season undefeated in swim meets. In her first A-10 championship, freshman Amina Meho had a top 10 finish. Her time of 23.63 earned her a ninth place overall in the 50 meter freestyle.

The men’s and women’s diving team is lead by head coach Mandy Hixon. The success on both the men’s and women’s side helped earn Hixon her second consecutive A-10 Men’s and Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award.

 Sophomore Hannah Swift won her first A-10 title, as she placed first in the one meter diving event. Freshman Michaela Butler did well in her first ever A-10 championship, placing fifth in the one meter dive event.

One of the Minutewomen’s strongest showings came in the 200 meter freestyle from a quartet led by senior Elizabeth Walsh, along with Sarah Kanellas, Jennifer Corriveau and Amina Meho. In the 1650 freestyle, sophomore Molly Papish had a very strong performance. Papish finished eighth overall with a time 17:26:36.

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

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