UMass swimming and diving hosts Fordham on Senior Day

By Tyler Fiedler

Collegian File Photo
(Collegian File Photo)

For a select group of members of the Massachusetts swimming and diving team, Saturday’s meet against Fordham carries a little more meaning than others.

It will be the last time they’ll swim in the place they’ve called home for the past four years.

Saturday marks Senior Day for both the UMass men’s and women’s swim and diving teams. The men’s side has six graduating seniors entering their final match while the Minutewomen have nine seniors that will be diving into the pool one last time during the regular season.

“It is a nice thing that this is at home,” Minutewomen coach Bob Newcomb said. “It will be emotional for our seniors but they will be ready to swim.”

Caroline Capece, Mary Kate Cohen, Mikhaila Eckhardt, Emily Lajoie, Jess Murphy, Katherine Orr, Rebecca Quirie, Cassie Sosnovich and Jocelyn Yuen make up the Minutewomen’s senior class. Senior Day is usually an emotional event, but once it’s time to dive in the pool, all of that is pushed aside and the competition ensues.

“We have some excellent competition in Fordham,” Newcomb said. “We are just looking for overall solid performances from everyone.”

Sosnovich and Yuen have swam their best as of late as the Atlantic 10 championship quickly approaches. Sosnovich has the fastest times for UMass in the 50 and 100-yard freestyles along with the 100-yard butterfly. Yuen has the fastest time in the 100-yard individual medley and second fastest in the 200-yard individual medley.

The Minutewomen face some tough losses for next season but Newcomb’s focus is on the present to end 2016 on a high note.

“We are doing what we need to do right now,” Newcomb said. “Right now our focus is on Fordham and not after the season because after this weekend we have the Atlantic 10 tournament.”

UMass will need the seniors to lead as the group faces one of the conference’s best in Fordham. The Rams are 7-2 this season with a fifth place finish at the Bucknell Invitational earlier in the season. Saturday’s meet will be only their third match away from Bronx, New York.

Fordham junior Megan Polaha is coming off one of her best performances of the season, winning three events including the 100 and 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard individual medley.

After coming off the Dartmouth Invitational Jan. 23 placing fourth out of four teams, the Minutewomen will look to improve as championship season approaches.

“I am not expecting them to swim fast,” Newcomb said. “It is the nature of where we are this time of the year.”

For the Minutemen, the same mentality is in effect.

Alessandro Bomprezzi, one of the most decorated swimmers in UMass history will take his final swim while other seniors include Wiktor Karpinski, Evan Sholudko, Brian Stiles, Kyle Vieira and Joe Woodman.

But the focus is on Fordham and finishing the season strong. The Rams pose a deep roster, led by Steven Sholdra, who was named A-10 performer of the week for after three event wins over the weekend.

In this weekend’s A-10 battle, stakes will be high along with the swimmers’ emotions. Although Newcomb is not frustrated with the Minutewomen’s recent performances, he said a win on Senior Day will mean a lot to his athletes.

“It is all about where we are as a team when it comes to A-10s,” Newcomb said. “It will be nice to see strong, solid performances from everyone in preparation for those A-10s. We cannot overlook this weekend.”

Tyler Fiedler can be reached by email [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Tyler_Fiedler.