For the first time in seven years, the Massachusetts men’s swimming and diving team didn’t win the Atlantic 10 Championship.
This year, the Minutemen ended their gold medal streak with a second place finish behind St. Bonaventure, which was the last team other than UMass to win the tournament in 2006. UMass finished with 613.5 points, trailing the Bonnies’ 688 for the title. Rounding out the top five teams were Xavier (519), George Washington (397) and Fordham (391.5).
“St. Bonaventure swam great,” UMass coach Russ Yarworth said. “They have a great coach, a talented group of athletes and they did what they needed to do to come out on top.”
UMass set a total of seven team records, and found themselves celebrating on the podium a total of six times.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids and they really swam their hearts out,” Yarworth said. “They never rolled over and never gave up.”
Alessandro Bomprezzi set two notable school records for the Minutemen, beginning on Friday in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:24.62, which earned him a silver medal. Later in the weekend, the freshman set another record in the 1,650-yard freestyle when he hit the wall at 15:26.83, just under six seconds faster than the previous school record.
“I think the whole freshman class really stepped up well and Alessandro Bomprezzi really stood out to me making the NCAA cut for us this weekend,” Yarworth said.
On Saturday, junior Chris Inglis tapped the wall before any other swimmer in the 200-yard freestyle at a time of 1:36.80, grabbing the gold medal and topping his own Atlantic 10 and school records. His record-breaking performance has qualified him to compete in the NCAA B standard time.
Hao Luong also set a school record with his bronze medal performance in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 49.56.
“We have a team meeting on Wednesday to discuss what we have to do to work harder for next year,” Yarworth said.
Women exceed expectations at A-10s
The UMass women’s swimming and diving team made its mark at the Atlantic 10 Championships, finishing in second place this past weekend for the first time in six years.
UMass finished behind first place Richmond, an 11-time Atlantic 10 champion. The Spiders finished with a score of 737 with the Minutewomen sitting right behind them at 594 points. Behind them were Fordham (473), La Salle (442) and George Washington (285).
UMass coach Bob Newcomb could only describe his feelings following the A-10s Championships using one word.
“I think ecstatic has to be the only word to use,” Newcomb said. “It was a great environment all weekend and we really went out there and exceeded people’s expectations.”
Newcomb’s team broke a total of 11 school records and earned 13 tournament medals over the weekend. For the coach, it was clear which of his swimmers stood out and had the most impact on his team’s outstanding performance this weekend.
“Michaela Butler really stood out to me on the boards,” Newcomb said. “She won the one and three meter events for us and won the Diver of the Year for the conference this season.”
Butler won the Diver of the Year for the second consecutive season after grabbing two gold medals in the one and three meter events. UMass diving coach Mandy Hixon was also recognized at the A-10 Championships as the Diving Coach of the Year for the sixth straight season.
The Minutewomen swept the podium in the first day of the one-meter diving events thanks to the performances of Butler and her teammates Molly Elkins and Mary Atkinson, who finished second and third respectively.
Jocelyn Yuen highlighted the second day of action for UMass as she broke the school record in the 200-yard IM event. Yuen finished with a time of 2:04.29 which placed her 10th in the event. Yuen went on to break another Minutewomen record in the 100-yard butterfly with a fourth place finish of 55.46.
Katie Arnott went on to break three school records of her own this past weekend, including a silver medal and NCAA qualifying time of 2:14.89 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Newcomb believes that she was one of the team’s leaders during the A-10 Championships.
“Katie Arnott is the swimmer that really stood out as a leader for us in the pool this weekend,” Newcomb said. “She also qualified for the NCAAs, while setting three school records for us.”
Another impressive accomplishment for the UMass women this weekend was their exceptional performance in the relay team events.
“We had four out of five relays on the podium this weekend,” Newcomb said, “and I think that really shows a team effort.
“I’m really excited for next season. We are graduating five seniors this year but this team is coming back next season ready to go.”
Chris Corso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @MDC_Corso.