By Eamonn Reynolds
With the 2010-2011 regular season in the books, the 2011 Mid-American Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships are set to begin Feb. 23, as host Ohio University welcomes Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami, and Toledo.
2010 MAC Championships Results
1. Toledo - 670.5
2. Miami - 572
3. Ohio - 527
4. Eastern Michigan - 453.5
T-5. Akron - 392
Buffalo - 392
7. Bowling Green - 241
8. Ball State -166
Akron has endured an up-and-down season this year, winning only four dual meets against Duquesne (118-89), Marshall (131-104), and St. Francis (Pa.) (177-117), and Youngstown State (196-104). The Zips took fourth place overall at their annual Akron Invitational with a total of 953 points. At last year’s Championships, they finished tied for fifth place with Buffalo with 392 points overall.
Ball State Cardinals
After finishing eighth in last year’s Championships, Ball State has enjoyed a productive 2010-11 regular season. The Cardinals won their first three dual meets over Evansville (195-103), Eastern Illinois (124-65), and Eastern Michigan (156-144), and finished first in four out of five invitational meets. Freshman Emily Wisolek’s 200 Freestyle time of 1:52.02 ranks sixth in the conference, while fellow freshman Mallory Miles ranks fourth in the 100 Back with a time of 56.64. Senior Maria Gramelspacher’s 200 Butterfly time of 2:03.71 ranks seventh in the conference, while freshman Bridgette Ruehl has also contributed to the success of the underclassmen with a fourth-place 200 Breaststroke time of 2:17.12.
Bowling Green Falcons
Bowling Green finished the regular season with a 3-4 record overall, posting victories over Akron (160-134), Youngstown State (174-119), and Cleveland State (170-124). The Falcons took fourth place at the Eastern Michigan Invitational with a total of 604 points, and dropped tough losses to Eastern Michigan and Michigan State by close scores of 136-158 and 129-165, respectively. Sophomore Alexis Kain and junior Amanda Rom currently hold the fifth and sixth-best 100 Breaststroke times of 1:03.86 and 1:03.95, respectively, while the 200 Freestyle Relay team ranks third with a time of 1:35.53. The Falcons finished seventh at last year’s Championships with 241 points overall.
Buffalo has established itself as a prime contender in the conference this season, as the Bulls have won all but two of their dual meets. After finishing tied for fifth place with Akron at last year’s Championships, the Bulls will head into Athens boasting a five-meet winning streak with wins coming over Binghamton, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Ball State, and St. Bonaventure. Sophomore Caroline Simmons holds the second-best 50 Freestyle time of 23.37, while freshman Marissa Murphy ranks fifth in the 200 Individual Medley with a time of 2:05.56. The 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay squads also rank fourth and fifth in the conference with times of 1:35.66 and 3:31.20, respectively.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
After finishing fourth in last year’s Championships, Eastern Michigan has struggled this season, winning only two meets against Bowling Green (158-136) and Xavier (123.5-85.5), and finishing second at the EMU Invitational with 694.5 points overall. Sophomore Brianna Emig has made a name for herself as she currently ranks first in the 500 Freestyle with a time of 4:49.75 and second in the 1650 Freestyle with a 16:22.03. The Eagles have also seen impressive performances from its diving squad, as senior Lesley Vizurraga ranks first in the conference on the 3-meter boards with a score of 333.83, and second on the 1-meter boards with a 314.62. Sophomore Kelly Hendricks ranks third on the 3-meter boards with a 320.92, while fellow sophomore Christina Nunez-Wood ranks third on the 1-meter boards with a 308.26.
Picking up where they left off after finishing second at last year’s Championships, Miami has dominated the majority of the 2010-11 season. After losing to Purdue in their first dual meet, the Redhawks went on to win ten in a row before losing to rival Ohio 135-163 in the last meet of the season. They also finished first out of eight teams at their own Miami Invitational. Currently, the Redhawks hold the best times in the conference in nine different events. Sophomore Bekka Westrick leads the 50 Freestyle with a 23.03, while junior Chelsey Bruington sits atop the 200 Freestyle with a 1:49.24. Sophomore Leah Thornton holds three first-place times, including the 100 Backstroke (54.94), 200 Backstroke (1:57.83), and 200 Butterfly (2:01.24). Senior Kelsey Vehr rounds out the list with top times in the 100 Breaststroke (1:01.73), 200 Breaststroke (2:13.55), 200 Individual Medley (2:03.35), and 400 Individual Medley (4:18.81).
Ohio will enter this year’s Championships as the host school with an eight-meet winning streak currently under its belt. The Bobcats have only dropped two dual meets this season to Toledo and Ohio State by margins of 139.5-160.5 and 87-213, respectively, and won the Akron Invitational for the fourth-consecutive year. Seniors Rachel Heim and diver Lindsay Hamilton have contributed necessary leadership for the Bobcats as the two hold multiple best times and scores in the conference. Heim ranks first in the 100 Free (50.29) and 100 Butterfly (53.98), while Hamilton sits in second on the 3-meter boards with a 329.56 and first on the 1-meter boards with a 326.63. The Relay squads have also been impressive for Ohio, as they rank first in both the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays with times of 1:32.92 and 3:24.41, respectively.
After claiming its first MAC Championship title in school history a season ago, Toledo returns to this season’s Championships with another strong squad. The Rockets endured a difficult schedule this year, though, as they lost close dual meets to Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, and Miami, and finished fourth at the Swimming World College Conference Carnival with 111.5 points. Senior Jacy Dyer and sophomore Carly Harter have lead the way for the Rockets as both swimmers hold best times in the conference. Dyer ranks first in both the 1000 and 1650 Free with times of 10:01.83 and 16:12.58, respectively, while Harter ranks fourth in the 200 Individual Medley (2:04.78), third in the 500 Freestyle (4:56.89), and second in the 200 Freestyle (1:49.52).
Action is set to get underway at 7 p.m. Wednesday from the Ohio University Aquatic Center.