Men's Swimming Concludes MAC Championship in Fifth
CARBONDALE, ILL -- Missouri State had a great day in the pool, but ultimately came up short in their second MAC Championship. The Bears accumulated 432 points, settling for fifth place. The finish is the lowest conference finish in school history.
The eventual team championship went to the University at Buffalo, who led the entire meet. Their win breaks a four-year championship streak for Eastern Michigan, who finished second.
Missouri State is a perennial swimming powerhouse, and though this season will be considered a down year, the giant woke from hibernation for the last day of competition. In the first day, no MSU swimmer finished in the top three of any event. On the second day, two swimmers reached the podium. On the final day, five Bears medaled in their respective events. Last season, six Bears medalled in the entire meet.
Freshman Jared Roberts set tone for the day, winning the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:35.22. His time is an NCAA "B" cut as well as the third-fastest time in school history. Roberts was also the first event champion for Missouri State in the meet.
"[Head coach Jack] Steck told me I could win the mile, but I didn't really believe him," Roberts said of his finish. "Turns out, he was right."
Sophomore Daan Jansen continued to excel as well, finishing third in the event at 15:45.18. The finish was Jansen's second trip to the podium in as many days.
Another very strong event for the Bears was the 200-yard backstroke. Missouri State placed three swimmers in the top eight, guaranteeing points. Even though points were guaranteed, freshman Yuri Garanito swam hard. His time of 1:47.89 earned him a third-place finish and the number two spot on Missouri State's all-time list in the event.
Junior Bryson Cramer (1:50.51, seventh) and sophomore Aaron Henry (1:51.26, eighth) also scored highly for the Bears.
The Bears' momentum slowed in the 100-yard freestyle, with only one swimmer in the consolation heat. Junior Jeff Bentz time of 46.23 earned him a 15th-place finish as the lone Bear to score in the event.
Senior Chris Novak picked up the pace again in the 200-yard breaststroke. In the final race of his collegiate career, Novak came in at 2:01.85, placing third in the event. The time is a new career-best and improves his previous mark as the fifth-fastest time in school history. Novak will now resume his training for the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Continuing the trend of freshman excellence was freshman butterfly specialist Michal Bulak in the 200-yard butterfly. Bulak touched the wall at 1:48.58, finishing second in the event. His time is the third-fastest in MSU history.
Senior diver Eric Ducourneau capped off an impressive career with a 332.95 on the three-meter board earning sixth. Ducourneau was the top diver for the Bears this season and will go down as one of the top divers in MSU history. He is first all-time on the three-meter board and third on the one-meter.
"Eric did very well in this meet," diving coach Jim Huelskamp said of Ducourneau. "He is probably the best diver I have ever coached, one of the best to compete at Missouri State."
The final event of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quad of senior Dillon Burns, Bentz, Cramer and sophomore Jacob Sims finished the meet with a time of 3:05.68, placing sixth in the event.
This was the final swimming competition for the Bears this season. Ducourneau will return to action at the NCAA Zone "D" Regional next weekend, Mar. 11-13 in Austin, Texas.
The Missouri State men's swimming and diving squad turned in some great times, but remains in fifth at the Mid-American Conference Championship in Carbondale, Ill.
On the first day, the Bears wrapped up with a fourth place finish in the 400-yard medley relay. Day two began on the same tone, with the Bears quad of freshman Yuri Garanito, senior Chris Novak, freshman Michal Bulak and junior Jeff Bentz finishing fourth in the 200-yard medley relay at 1:31.60.
The thrill of the meet came in the 400-yard individual medley. Sophomore Daan Jansen was seeded fourth in the event, the same position he finished last season. However, Jansen came out strong and turned in an impressive 3:56.61, to finish second in the event. Thus far, Jansen owns the highest finish for the Bears in the meet.
The Bears also dominated the consolation heat of the 400-yard IM. Freshman Colin Hill just missed out on the championship final, and used the consolation round to show he deserved to swim with the best. Hill won the heat with a time of 4:02.65, two-tenths of a second faster than the eighth place finisher and a full second and a half ahead of the tenth place finisher. Close behind Hill, junior Waldo Broodryk finished third in the event with a time of 4:06.11.
Bulak was the only Missouri State swimmer in the championship heat of the 100-yard butterfly. Though new to the program, Bulak swam hard for a time of 49.38, finishing sixth overall.
The next event was the 200-yard freestyle. Though the Bears did not place a swimmer in the championship heat, three MSU swimmers stood out in the consolation heat. Freshman Jared Roberts won the heat with a time of 1:40.16. Roberts' time was two full seconds faster than his preliminary time. Junior Bryson Cramer (1:41.64) and freshman Jake Coleman (1:42.25) finished 12th and 13th, respectively.
Novak was the lone Missouri State representative in the 100-yard breaststroke championship heat. Novak touched the wall at 57.09 for a seventh-place finish. Broodryk swam in the consolation heat, finishing 13th with his time of 58.39.
The Bears returned to the podium in the 100-yard backstroke. Garanito, in his first MAC Championship, earned the bronze in the event with a time of 49.70. He became only the second Bear to medal in an event this meet. Sophomore Aaron Henry earned valuable points in the consolation heat, finishing 11th with a time of 51.76.
The second day ended with the 800-yard freestyle relay. The Bears squad of Jansen, Cramer, Roberts and sophomore Jacob Sims finished at 6:45.81, grabbing a fourth-place finish, but a false start disqualified the Bears.
The final day of competition will begin tomorrow at noon with the preliminary heats. The 1650-yard freestyle consolation heats will begin shortly after the preliminary round. All other championship heats will begin at 7:00 p.m.
The 200-yard freestyle relay was a sign of things to come, as the Bears finished fifth in the event with a time of 1:23.02. The quad of junior Jeff Bentz, senior Dillon Burns, sophomore Jacob Sims and freshman Yuri Garanito had not swam as a group all season, but still managed to set a season-best time in the event.
In the 500-yard freestyle, sophomore Aaron Henry made a huge leap, dropping 4.2 seconds from his preliminary time to finish at 4:33.92, a new career best. He finished tenth overall.
In the championship heat of the 500-yard freestyle, freshman Jared Roberts touched the wall at 4:31.77, earning a sixth-place finish for the Bears.
Though the Bears did not place anyone in the championship heat of the 200-yard individual medley, sophomore Daan Jansen came in with a time of 1:51.65, winning the consolation heat by a full second. If he would have made the championship heat, Jansen would have finished fifth in the event.
Bentz led the Bears in the 50-yard freestyle, coming in at 20.81 for a sixth-place finish. Burns also scored for in the event, finishing 14th with a time of 20.99.
Senior diver Eric Ducourneau built on his impressive resume with a score of 277.45 on the one-meter board. He finished sixth in the event. Freshman Cameron Wilson finished strong with a 229.80, came in at twelfth.
The Bears hoped to defend their MAC title in the 400-yard medley relay with a squad of Garanito, senior Chris Novak, freshman Michal Bulak and Bentz. However, Buffalo had other plans, as their squad touched at 3:14.98, setting new conference and pool records. Missouri State did manage to come in at 3:19.30, finishing fourth.