UMass men’s swimming and diving clinches 15th A-10 championship, women settle for second place

By Victor Pusateri

Courtesy of UMass Athletics
Courtesy of UMass Athletics

The Massachusetts men’s swimming and diving team is back on top.

After a two-year drought, the Minutemen recaptured the success it’s seen in the previous decade, claiming their 15th Atlantic 10 title in program history.

In a competition that started last Wednesday, UMass headed into the final day of the meet on Saturday, trailing by 45.5 points to two-time reigning champion St. Bonaventure.

But the Minutemen cut the deficit to single points on the very first event Saturday as Alessandro Bomprezzi finished first in the 1650-meter freestyle. Joe Woodman and Kyle Vieira also finished in the top 10, giving UMass 42 total points in the event.

Senior Michael Glenn then gave the Minutemen a half-point lead over the Bonnies heading into the last two events after winning silver in the 200-meter breaststroke. Glenn earned all-conference honors with a 1:59.83 mark as he joined Billy Brown as the only Minutemen to finish the event with a time under two minutes.

UMass completed its comeback with a final score of 589.5, edging St. Bonaventure’s 569 points. The Minutemen outscored the Bonnies 223-157 in the final day.

“What we did started Friday night and what we believed in what we could accomplish,” UMass coach Russ Yarworth said. “The kids really stepped up and did a great job. Our divers stepped onto those boards and with the pressure on performed better than they had all year.”

UMass started its title run hot, ending the first day tied for first with the Bonnise with 74 points each.

After falling just short in the 200-meter medley relay to the Bonnies, the Minutemen responded in the 800-meter freestyle relay with a come-from-behind victory.

With Oliver Wyeth and Bomprezzi as the third and fourth legs, UMass overcome a 2.36 second deficit and finished with a time of 6:31.86, almost two seconds faster than St. Bonaventure.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better day but it was only the first day,” Yarworth said. “Two school records is a great way to start the meet.”

UMass started the second day right where it left off, as Bomprezzi and Wyeth placed first and second, respectively, in the 500-meter freestyle.

The duo became the first set of Minutemen to sweep the 500-meter freestyle since 2001, when Tommy Keane and Rob Bellamy last did it.

“Alessandro’s swim was just tremendous and it set the tone for the night,” Yarworth said.

Bomprezzi was named the Outstanding Male Performer of the Meet. He set two meet records and won a pair of gold medals and silver in the three distance freestyle races.

Minutewomen settle for second

While the women’s swimming and diving team also saw impressive finishes, it finished second in its A-10 championship meet.

UMass finished with 489 points, only behind Richmond (586) which earned its 13th conference title.

The Minutewomen started strong on the first day of competition, racing to any early lead with 139 points.

UMass dominated in diving as freshman Emma Roush won the 1-meter event with a score of 268.35. Five of the top six finishers in the event were Minutewomen.

UMass continued with its hot start on the second day, and although its lead decreased, they still held control.

Senior Molly Smyth won bronze in the 500-meter freestyle and in the 200-meter medley. Sophomore Meriza Werenski placed third in the latter event.

The Minutewomen closed the second day with a sixth place finish in the 200-meter freestyle relay, allowing them to remain in the lead thanks to Zoe Judd at the back end.

“Zoe anchoring in 200 relay with an unofficial split of 22.86 was a phenomenal swim and the team responded well,” UMass coach Bob Newcomb said.

But the Minutewomen saw their lead dwindle to only two points after the third day.

Werenski once again had a solid outing, picking up her second bronze medal of the tournament in the 400-meter individual medley.

Newcomb took notice of Werenski’s impressive performance, acknowledging that she battled through tough conditions swimming with asthma.

“She swam very well while battling her asthma with the bitter cold (in Ohio),” Newcomb said. “The mornings were hard but the nights were better for her.”

Roush headlined UMass diving’s continued success, placing second through fifth in the 1-meter dive. Roush took home the silver.

Despite the blown lead on the final day, Smyth finished her UMass career with a silver medal in the 1650-meter freestyle.

“Molly Smyth was the one who threw everything together and it was fun to see her finish her career the way she did,” Newcomb said.

The Minutewomen’s second place finish was their fourth top-two performance in program history and the second in the past three years.

Victor Pusateri can be reached at [email protected]