COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – After a sixth-place finish at last year's Centennial Conference Championships, the Ursinus College men's swimming team has its sights set much higher as the meet gets underway Friday morning at Franklin & Marshall.
The Bears, who went 3-3 in CC dual meets this season, believe they have the goods to get back into the top three for the first time in three years. Six-time defending champion Gettysburg is the favorite, but a tight cluster in the standings is expected, and a place or two here and there could make a significant difference. A primer of the championship meet, broken down by day:
Friday, February 17
Friday morning's prelims feature the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free. The Bears are banking on big points in the distance freestyle event, with freshman Jake Menzer and senior Marcus Wagner seeded second and fourth, respectively. The difference in seed time between Menzer and Swarthmore's Michael Lutzker, the fifth-ranked swimmer, is just over half a second, so expect this one to go down to the wire. Wagner captured a bronze medal in this event last season.
In the 50 free, sophomore Travis Venables and senior William Benn are tabbed fifth and sixth, respectively, and both hope to crack the podium. Junior Colin McNamara is just outside the top 10. Venables won the B final a year ago, turning in the seventh-best finals time.
The top 16 swimmers in each event will advance to the evening's finals session, with the top eight competing in the A final and the next eight in the B final.
In addition to these three events, the first night will also showcase the 200 free relay and 400 medley relay finals. Ursinus' top group is seeded third in the former and sixth in the latter.
Saturday, February 18
Saturday's prelims begin with the 400 IM, in which Callaghan is seeded seventh. Coulter is 15th, and sophomore Kevin Gill is 18th.
McNamara is eighth in the 100 fly, with Venables (18th) and sophomore Johnny Myers (19th) hoping to crack the finals field. McNamara placed eighth in the event at last year's championship meet.
The Bears could have three of the top eight in the 200 free. Menzer (seeded second) is the headliner, but fellow rookie Casey Lear (fourth) and Wagner (eighth) are contenders; Wagner took sixth a year ago. Sophomore Daniel Becker (11th), junior Christopher Barthold (13th), and senior Dylan Cooper (16th) are also in the top 16.
Coulter (11th) and sophomore Devin Nielsen (16th) are Ursinus' top performers in the 100 breast.
In the final prelim of the day, Benn will showcase his skills in the 100 back. Seeded third, the senior looks to add another medal to last year's bronze. At 16th, Cooper will hope to make the B final.
The evening session will also bring the 200 medley relay, where Ursinus is seeded fifth, and the 800 free relay, where the Bears are second behind only the Bullets' top team.
Sunday, February 19
Menzer and Wagner get the Bears going in the 1650 free prelims, where Menzer is third and Wagner fifth. Last year, Wagner just missed out on a medal with a fourth-place effort. Freshman Daniel Powell is 10th in the event.
Benn is a serious contender for gold in the 200 back after earning a silver last season; he is seeded second, his time of 1:51.74 only slightly behind Swarthmore's Liam Fitzstevens at 1:51.57.
Lear (12th), Venables (14th), and Krawetz (16th) represent the Bears in the 100 free, while Coulter is tabbed ninth in the 200 breast.
Ursinus boasts a strong core in the 200 fly, with Callaghan (third), Myers (fifth), and McNamara (eighth) all seeking spots in the A final.
The championship concludes with the 400 free relay, in which the Bears are seeded third.
Friday's prelims are scheduled for 11 a.m., with the finals at 7 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the prelims will get underway at 10 a.m. and the finals at 6 p.m.
Men's and Women's swimming heads to Centennial Conference championships this weekend! February 17-19, 2017 | hosted by: Franklin and Marshall College video by: Brett Felgoise '17 | https://goo.gl/R3tgTj