In their final swim meet in the pool at Boyden Gymnasium, the seniors on the Massachusetts men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were able to make their outing a memorable one, defeating Bryant 185-104 on Saturday.
The Minutemen came out strong against the Bulldogs, winning 16 of their 17 events. Prior to the start of the meet, seniors Beau Garufi, Alexander Merkulov, Tim O’Neill, Peter Sacco and Eric Zeimetz were honored by their teammates.
University of Massachusetts coach Russ Yarworth also discussed the group of seniors he has worked with over the past four years.
“They’ve been great,” he said. “They’ve given me everything I could have asked for. It was just a wonderful group of young men. They’ll be going out in the world soon, and they’ll do fine.”
As participants in the opening event, Sacco, Garufi, O’Neill, and Zeimetz took first in the 200-yard medley with a time of 1:34.50 seconds. The same group closed out the meet with another victory in the 200-yard freestyle event, coming in at 1:25.34.
Three of the seniors swimming in those events also managed to take first place in their individual events, as well. Sacco took first in the 50-yard freestyle, O’Neil in the 100-yard backstroke and Garufi in the 100-yard breaststroke. Junior Chris Inglis became the first swimmer in school history to finish the 200-meter freestyle race in less than 1:40, as the Mashpee, Mass. native clocked in at 1:39.94.
With only two more meets left in the regular season schedule, the Minutemen continue to gear up for the Atlantic 10 Conference championships in Geneva, Ohio.
“We are done with what I call intersession training camp,” Yarworth said. “So, now our momentum is good.
“We will see some good performances in the next two weeks I think, but certainly our focus is the Atlantic 10. I think the focus and the attitude and the spirit is all there for them.”
Next up, UMass will travel to White River Junction, Vt. on Friday for the Upper Valley Invitational.
Women show their strength in 180-119 victory
The Minutewomen also picked up a victory against Bryant on Saturday, downing the Bulldogs 180-119. Like their male counterparts, seniors Molly Elkins, Sarah Cobb, Lauren Mark, Amina Meho and Danielle Sekurski were honored before the meet.
Four of those senior swimmers — Cobb, Sekurski, Mark and Meho — claimed second place in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:44.36.
Elkins, the fifth senior and a diver, earned the second spot on the boards in both the 1- (251.47) and 3-meter (252.53) dives. “It’s always a difficult thing,” UMass coach Bob Newcomb said. “Every year you work with a group of people that you become very attached to. You work with somebody for years and you go through the recruiting process. You bring them in, you watch them grow, you watch them develop and you watch them come out as better people.
“They are a good class. They have great personality, great leadership and really great devotion to the program and to the university.”
Two other top swimming finishes for UMass came from Katie Arnott, who touched the wall in 1:06.75 for first place in the 100-yard breaststroke, while also placing first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:24.51.
The Minutewomen also had an impressive performance in the butterfly events. Jocelyn Yuen won both the 200-yard butterfly and the 100-yard butterfly, finishing with times of 2:08.52 and 58.37, respectively. Finishing in second place right behind Yuen in the 200-butterfly was Kaitlyn McKenna with a time of 2:11.27. She also finished third in the 100-butterfly at 1:00.83.
With UMass set to finish up the regular season, Newcomb is pleased with his team’s frame of mind.
“I think they are very confident, and as you look at the last two meets and coming back from our training trip we had in Puerto Rico, they were literally exhausted and they swam great races,” he said. “Not necessarily fast, but really strong, strong races. They got better this weekend, and I anticipate that next weekend they will get better and that is the way they have been doing all year.
“They are very confident and they work together very well and it is a very positive environment that they are falling on right now.”
The Minutewomen will join the men on the road to Vermont at the Upper Valley Invitational on Friday.
Kaitlin Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @Kaitlin_Boyer.