By Andrew Snyder
The final day of competition at the PAC Championships was electric as usual, with the stands packed and the swimmers pumped. It was a very fast and loud night at the James E. Longnecker Competition Pool. After an emotional senior recognition, the entire pool joined in the “Roller Coaster Cheer,” a PAC classic. A few swimmers from the AMCC’s Cabrini College proceeded to introduce the already rowdy swimmers on deck to the “Bonzi Cheer”, which had everyone in the pool loud and on their feet for the start of the final session.
The Westminster College Titans used the electric atmosphere to propel themselves to three straight first place finishes in the women’s and men’s 1650 as well as the women’s 200 backstroke, an event in which they went 1-2. Making that accomplishment even more incredible was the fact that it was the same Westminster swimmer, Erin Erdley, who won both the 1650 and the 200 back!
Grove City senior, Cam Coppelli, broke up Westminster’s run with his first ever PAC individual title in his last ever collegiate race. The momentum appeared to shift to the Wolverine side as they took first through fourth in the women’s 100 free and 1-2 in the men’s 100 free. Sophomore Eric Fairchild upset his teammate and the defending champion, Kirk Gagliardo, who didn’t seem too disappointed to lose the title to a teammate and friend.
After Westminster’s Courtney Herdt and Caitlin Lehberger put on a spectacular show in the 200 breast, both coming in under PAC record time, Grove City was at it again, taking 1-2 in the men’s 100 breast.
GCC sophomore Kait Riesmeyer kept things going in the women’s 200 fly as she pulled away from the pack at the 125-yard mark and never looked back on her way to another PAC title and an NCAA ‘A’ time standard. On the men’s side, GCC’s Ben Bowser used strong underwaters to de-throne defending champion, WC’s Alan Nedley, by 0.28 seconds.
After an exciting all-pool rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and the Cupid Shuffle, Grove City swept the 400 free relays to seal the men’s fourth straight, and the women’s third straight, PAC victory. The GCC men finished 294 points ahead of second place Westminster with a total of 948 points. The Wolverine women finished up 238 points ahead of Washington & Jefferson with a total of 889 points.
The PAC will be well-represented by the women at the NCAA Championships next month with a number of ‘A’ standard qualifiers from both the Westminster Titans and the Grove City Wolverines. For many PAC swimmers, this is the end of another fun and successful season, but for the select few heading on to Tennessee, we wish you the best of luck and hope you represent the Presidents’ Athletic Conference with pride!