Freshman Vanessza Balogh and sophomore Nick Evans broke two as the Oakland University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams brought home The Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships, Saturday evening.
On the men’s side, Oakland scored 998 points for their 12th straight Summit League title and pushing their conference record to 33-0. Centenary was second with 539 points and South Dakota State was third with 504. Rounding out the scoring was Eastern Illinois (4th – 498 pts.), South Dakota (5th – 301 pts.), IUPUI (6th – 258 pts.) and Western Illinois (7th – 200).
On the women’s side, Oakland scored 1060 points for their 12th straight Summit League title, 17 straight overall conference titles and 20 titles in 21 attempts. South Dakota State was second with 625.5 points and South Dakota was third with 536 points. Rounding out the scoring was Centenary (4th – 360 pts.), Eastern Illinois (5th – 282 pts.), IUPUI (6th – 281.5 pts.) and Western Illinois (7th – 190).
“It all came together this weekend,” said head coach Pete Hovland. “All the months of practice, the tough schedule we had, it all led to winning the titles once again. I’m so proud of the effort that everyone put out. It’s hard for me to single out any one athlete. I’m pleased that we were able to send our senior out in style. It’s a great night to be a Golden Grizzly!”
Sophomore Sandra Czerska and senior Marcin Unold were named Swimming Championships MVP. Czerska won the 200-yard individual medley (2:03.15), set a meet record and hit the NCAA ‘B’ cut in winning the 100 butterfly and won the 200 fly with an NCAA ‘B’ cut of 1:59.70. She also swam on the winning 800 freestyle (7:24.47), 200 medley (1:43.11), 400 medley (3:42.78, ‘B’ cut, school, meet record) and the 400 free (3:26.09) relays.
Unold earns the award for the second time in his career. He won the 100 backstroke (47.10, NCAA ‘B’ cut), the 200 back (1:44.30, NCAA ‘B’ cut) and swam on the championship 800 free (6:31.10, NCAA ‘B’ cut), the 200 medley (1:28.74, NCAA ‘B’ cut), the 200 free (1:20.80, NCAA ‘B’ cut), the 400 medley (3:16.62, NCAA ‘B’ cut) and the 400 free (2:58.00, NCAA ‘B’ cut) relays. In addition, he set the meet record on his lead-off 100 leg of the 400 free relay at 43.82.
Newcomers of the Championships went to Balogh and Evans. Balogh swam an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 16:32.55 in the 1650 free. That broke the meet record of 16:53.97 by Maggie Vaughan of Centenary (2007), was a school record and she broke the school record in the 1000 free at 9:57.87.
Balogh also won 500 free (4:50.96, NCAA ‘B’ cut, meet record) and the 400 individual medley (4:18.96, NCAA ‘B’ cut, meet record) swam on the championship 800 freestyle (7:24.47) and 400 medley (3:42.78, ‘B’ cut, school, meet record) relays.
Evans won the 16500 freestyle with a time of 15:28.94, breaking the league record of 15:28.94 set by Tim Montague of Oakland in 2009. It was an NCAA ‘B’ cut, broke the school record of 15:35.69 by Andy Schmidt in 2001 and broke the school record in the 1000 free at 9:16.35. Evans also won the 200 free (1:37.73, NCAA ‘B’ cut), 500 free (4:24.09, NCAA ‘B’ cut) and swam on the championship 800 free (6:31.10, NCAA ‘B’ cut) relay.
Diving Championship MVP went to senior Chelsea Oates and freshman Jordan Zendejas. Oates won the women’s 1- and 3-meter springboards (296.10 points, meet record, 302.45). This is the third time she has earned the award and finishes her career with five individual titles.
Zendejas won the men’s 1- and 3-meter springboards (287.50 points, 279 points). Coach Hovland was named the Men’s Swimming Coach of the Championship for the sixth time in his career.
For the men, Oakland recorded wins from Evans in the 1650 free, freshman Matyas Keresztes in the 100 free (44.66), Unold in the 200 back, junior Scott Yarbrough in the 200 breaststroke (2:01.51), Zendejas on the 1-m board and the 400 free relay team of Unold, freshman Grant Harding, sophomore Tobias Hansen and Keresztes.
For the women, the Golden Grizzlies picked up wins from Balogh in the 1650 free, Czerska in the 200 fly, junior Jade Evink in the 200 back (2:03.70), junior Johanna Gustafsson in the 200 breast (2:17.33), junior Alyssa Vela in the 100 free (50.30, NCAA ‘B’ cut) and the 400 free relay team of Vela, Czerska, senior Kelli Dewey and Gustafsson (3:26.09).