By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Xavier swimming concluded another successful Big East Championship meet this past weekend when they traveled to Ithaca, N. Y.
For a second consecutive season, the men’s team brought back a conference championship to Victory Parkway.
The team has won the championships both times since joining the conference last fall.
Junior Nick Foster stole the spotlight over the long four days by winning two individual races on his way to being named Most Outstanding Performer for the weekend.
Foster defended his title from last year with a victory in the 1650 -meter freestyle.
Also repeating as conference champion, junior Luke Johanns set a new school record in the 100-meter freestyle by edging out teammate Armando Moss by four-tenths of a second.
While Foster seemed to dominate every time he entered the water, sophomore Arthur Smith improved from last year’s second place finish to claim his spot atop the conference in the 200-meter backstroke with a time 1:48.49.
This was not only Smith’s new personal record, but it also moves him into second place in school history.
Although no first-place finishes came from the 200-meter breaststroke event, junior Rob Van Kirk finished sixth, two places behind senior teammate Michael Gordon.
Despite starting the tournament slowly on Feb. 18, the team picked up the pace over the last three days of the tournament to finish the weekend as champions by a wide margin of victory. Xavier (904) finished over 100 points ahead of the second-place Georgetown Hoyas.
Sophomore Erik Biernat led his teammates in the 200-meter butterfly event, taking third place, while sophomore Gage Mitchell was close behind for fourth.
Head coach Brent MacDonald was honored by the conference as Coach of the Year after tying Georgetown’s Jamie Holder in the voting.
Additionally, the women’s team returns to Cincinnati with a third-place finish under its belt. The Musketeers have shown great improvements over last year.
Freshman Paxtyn Drew gave the rest of the conference a glimpse of the havoc she will cause in the next three years. Drew’s second-place finish in the 200 meter backstroke is now second all-time in Xavier history.
Junior Molly Kroeger added a top-five finish in the 100-meter freestyle.
A relay of Kroeger, Drew, senior Carolyn Stewart and senior Maddie Day set another school record for the 400-meter freestyle at 2:28.40. In addition to their tournament finishes, both teams were also recognized as CSCAA Scholar All-America teams, furthering Xavier’s academic excellence in athletcs.
Looking ahead to next season, both squads will be faced with a significant depletion of both talent and depth
The men will be without Moss, Gordon, Carter Clark, Eric Dirvin, Will Oswald and Kiernan McGeehan. Johans and Foster will be looked at to build their in-water dominance into dryland leadership.
The women’s team will compete in 2015-2016 with star performers Day and Stewart while also saying goodbye to seniors Carly Davis, Jacquelyn Misanik, and Kelsie Johns.