St. Peter’s, Mo. - Fresno Pacific's men's swimming team will be bringing home the NAIA National Championship for the second year in a row, winning the title by more than 100 points over the second-place finisher Cal Baptist.
The CBU women won their fifth all-time national championship, with
the others coming in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. The team ended the meet
with 616 points. Fresno Pacific was runner-up with 459 points, followed
by SCAD Savannah (Ga.) with 425, Simon Fraser (B.C.) with 417 and Azusa
Pacific (Pacific) with 383.
The Sunbirds set three national records, including the final event of the night, the 400 relay, a record the team broke by more than two seconds. The win gives Fresno Pacific 10 national titles for all sports.
For the FPU men, it was the second national title in the program's four-year existence. An emotional Richardson talked afterward about how far the program has come.
"I can't say enough about Carl Weigley," said Richardson. " We built the program around him four years ago. He, Ray Eggert, Rowen Shaterian and Joel Howard all committed as freshmen to this program. Two national championships and six or seven national records later, they have been the backbone of this team. I couldn't be more proud of those guys and it's because of their leadership that we've been successful."
Weigley and fellow senior Brad Babcock, along with freshmen Marko Tanasovski and Paul Marie-Rose helped carry the team throughout the championships as they formed two national championship relay teams and earned major points individually.
"They were unbelievable," said Richardson. "Sprinters win championships, and I had the best sprinters in the country."
Concordia's Alex Peters was named the Women's Outstanding Performer at the competition.
She won the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 1650 freestyle
competitions, setting records in the both the 200 and 500. Simon Fraser's David Hibberd was
named the Men's Outstanding Performer of this year's event. He won the
200 individual medley, 100 freestyle and 200 free. The Simon Fraser
swimmer set new standards in three of those events.
In addition to top-level performances, the Fresno men's team showcased some extraordinary depth, putting the national title far out of reach early in the day from the sheer volume of how many swimmers made it through the prelims. All 18 swimmers that traveled with the team scored points.
"We work so hard every year and it's not just the people who are setting records," said Richardson. "Jay Friend is just one example of someone that personifies this team. He gave up his summer to train with us for this meet and came up huge today."
The Sunbirds fought back from a disheartening day yesterday, when two relay championships were disqualified, taking away 40 points from each team. The teams rallied together though and refused to let that take the limelight on Saturday.
"I had about 10 coaches come up to me and tell me that a lot of teams would have folded up, that they've seen teams fold up in situations like that," said coach Peter Richardson, who was named NAIA men's coach of the year for the third year in a row.
"As good a team as we are, what people said they were most impressed with was the character of our athletes. Our team responded and took it to another level. From the top down they all stepped up. They overcame the biggest adversity. When faced with the most difficult situation you could overcome, they just got stronger. That's what makes this win so much sweeter."
Richardson had just as much to say about the women's team, which has finished 5th, 4th, 3rd, and now 2nd in its four years as a program. He specifically applauded Lauren Malthaner, who has dropped a whole eight seconds in the 200 breaststroke this year, culminating in a national championship-winning time of 2:17.16 on Saturday.
He also raved about Brooke Turner, the "heart and soul of this team" who, coming off shoulder surgery, was still a factor despite not being 100 percent. She swam 20:07 in the mile at UOP just a month ago, but swam 17:57 today to give the team an emotional boost.
"That's unheard of, but it shows the kind of heart this team has," said Richardson. "The girls said they had my back and they came out and swam incredible today."
The women's team returns all but one swimmer next season and can look forward to the return of former NAIA swimmer of the year Cheyenne Coffman, who redshirted this season.
The Women's Coach of the Year was Rick Rowland of California Baptist.
The Men's Coach of the Year was Peter Richardson of Fresno Pacific.
Men - Team Rankings - Through Event 40
1. Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 698.5 2. California Baptist University 582
3. Lindenwood University 425.5 4. Simon Fraser University 407
5. Scad 393.5 6. Concordia University 299.5
7. Illinois Tech 179 8. Asbury College 144
9. University of the Cumberlands 138 10. Union College 137
11. Biola University 74 12. Notre Dame College 72
13. Vanguard University 56 14. Soka University 45
15. Milligan College 44 16. Lindsey Wilson College Swimmin 15
17. Morningside College 10
Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 39
1. California Baptist University 616 2. Fresno Pacific Sunbirds 459
3. Scad 425 4. Simon Fraser University 417
5. Azusa Pacific University 383 6. Concordia University 339
7. Lindenwood University 211 8. Biola University 187
8. Union College 187 10. Asbury College 165
11. Notre Dame College 89 12. University of the Cumberlands 88
13. Brenau University 59 14. Illinois Tech 41
15. Soka University 36 16. Morningside College 28
17. Malone University 6 18. Campbellsville University 4
18. College Of Saint Mary 4