Marist, Rider Look to Defend MAAC Titles

The Rider University men’s and Marist College women’s swimming and diving teams will look to defend their titles at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s 2014 Swimming and Diving Championships, Feb. 13-15 at the Burt Flickinger Athletic Center on the campus of Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Broncs’ men’s team is looking to extend its title streak to three consecutive after winning the MAAC championships in 2012 and 2013. Rider has won the MAAC championships three times, and finished either first or second in 17 of the 18 championships it has competed in since becoming a member of the league.

The Marist women’s team has been a dominant force since it first began competing in the MAAC. The Red Foxes have won 14 titles in 18 years, and have won nine of the last 10 championships.

Competition promises to be keen at this year’s championships as champions and top finishers return to defend their titles or compete for championships.

Maddie Arciello of Marist returns to defend her title in the women’s 100 freestyle event. Arciello, a senior from Missoula, Mont., was runnerup in the 50 free and finished fourth in the 200 free. She has been honored as MAAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week twice this season.

Another Marist senior, Bonnie Orr, will look to break through in the women’s 200, 500 and 1000 free event. Orr finished second in the 500 last year and was third in both the 200 and 1000 free event.

The 2-3-4 finishers in last year’s 1650 freestyle event all return. Sophomore Anastasiia Mushtei of Saint Peter’s was runnerup in the 1650 free last year, while Canisius junior Marissa Oakey finished third and Rider senior Melanie Leonhard was fourth.

Marist sophomore Bethany Powhida returns to defend her title in the 100 backstroke. She also finished second in the 200 backstroke a year ago.

The top four finishers from a year ago come back to compete in the women’s 100 breastroke, led by defending champion Kerri-Anne Dodenhoff of Iona. Defending champ Alexandra Sison will be holding off her competition in the 200 breaststroke. Another defending champ, Emily Miles of Marist, returns in the 100 butterfly. Miles also finished as the runnerup in the 200 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

Marist junior Kimberly Tobias finished second in both the 1 and 3 meter diving competitions.  She has been named MAAC Women’s Diver of the Week five times this season.

Spencer Bray of Canisius was runnerup in both the men’s 500 freestyle and 1000 freestyle. Sean Sullivan of Marist and Sean Wurster of Canisius were Nos. 3-4 in last year’s 1650 freestyle and return this year. Sullivan also finished second in the 400 individual medley last year.

Shane Baxter of Niagara and Nicholas Spinella of Marist were second and fourth in last year’s 100 backstroke and return this year.

Defending champ Jeff Prichard of Niagara, along with runnerup Lance Neuendorf of Manhattan and third-place finisher Spinella return in the 200 backstroke event.

Rider’s Shane Tubb was runnerup in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 200 butterfly, and Marist’s Jason Ruddy was fourth in the 100 butterfly and runnerup in the 200, and both return for this year’s championship.

Rider senior Trevor Hiller, last year’s Most Outstanding Diver, will be back to defend his title in the men’s 1-meter diving event. Also back are runnerup Josh Dodway of Marist and third-place finisher Edward Quarantillo of Canisius. Marist’s Sean Molloy returns to defend his 3-meter diving championship, along with runnerup Hiller and third-place finisher Dodway.

Others to keep an eye include Matea Samardzic of Saint Peter’s in the backstroke events, and Melanie Leonhard of Rider in the freestyle. In men’s competition, Jonathan Gomez of Saint Peter’s could threaten in the backstroke events, and Matthan-Matthew Martir of Rider in the freestyle events.