Swimming & Diving Bears Take 48-Point Lead After First Day of MAC Championships
March 6, 2014
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Missouri State men's swimming & diving team won four championship finals on the first day of the 2014 MAC Men's Swimming & Diving Championships at Buffalo's Alumni Arena Natatorium Thursday.
Through the first day of competition, the Bears (245 points), who are looking for their first MAC title since joining the conference in 2009, lead second-place Eastern Michigan by 48 points. Buffalo is third with 192 points, followed by Miami (164), Southern Illinois (134), Ball State (66) and Evansville (50).
"Today was only day one, and we have a long way to go," said MSU coach Dave Collins, "so, the focus needs to be on maximizing every opportunity we get each session. If we do that successfully, I like our chances."
The Bears opened the finals session, with Paul Le, Jack Snow, Uvis Kalnins and Caleb Schuermann winning the 200-freestyle relay in a pool record time of 1:19.84. MSU's dominant relay showed itself again later as Le, Isaac Springer, Vitalii Baryshok and Kalnins closed the evening by winning the 400-medley relay in 3:10.95.
The medley-relay mark is good for a MAC championship meet and MSU record and is an NCAA consideration time.
"We came out a bit flat this morning in the prelims and needed a big swim to start off the finals session," Collins said. "We put everything we had into winning the 200-free relay. That race really gave the momentum we needed to turn things around, and that momentum was carried the entire session with big swim after big swim."
Kalnins also won the 200 individual medley in 144.69, another MAC championships record, Buffalo pool record and school record. He also lowered his NCAA `B' cut that was originally achieved at the TYR Invitational in Evanston, Ill., on Nov. 22. Le finished just behind Kalnins in second in the race with a B-cut time of 1:45.41. Chris Carpenter was fourth in 1:49.03, earning the Bears' third NCAA consideration time in the A-final.
Missouri State's fourth championship final win came from diver Garrett Nevels on the 1-meter board. The junior scored 363.45 points to take the event after qualifying fourth earlier in the day.
Nevels broke his own school record of 357.67, set Oct. 25 at Hammons Student Center Pool against Drury and also set a Buffalo pool standard.
"For Garrett to win the 1-meter was absolutely huge," Collins said. "The amount of pressure that is on the divers in the finals is crazy. Garrett just kept ripping dives and pulled out the win for the team."
Baryshok was the Bears' only swimmer in the 50 free A-final, finishing in fourth in 20.45 after tying for the third spot in prelims with a time of 20.49. Snow and Isaac McKnight went 1-2 in the consolation final in 20.62 and 20.77, respectively.
Miguel Davila also swam a B-cut in the 500 free, finishing second in 4:22.72, while Schuermann was fourth with another NCAA consideration time of 4:24.88. He qualified second for the event and did so in a school-record 4:22.66. Schuermann broke Kalnins' mark in the event, which stood at 4:23.28 since last year's MAC championships.
Schuermann also swam an NCAA consideration time in the race, one of the three for the Bears in the morning. Le and Kalnins each turned in NCAA `B' efforts in the 200 IM prelims that followed as the pair claimed the top two spots in the championship final in that event.
Le went 1:47.03 and Kalnins posted a 1:49.03.
Friday prelims begin at 10 a.m., central time, with finals to follow at 6 p.m.