Women’s swimming and diving places fourth at the MAC Championships
Team accumulates nine individual and two relay awards in the three-day competition
It was evident by the beginning of the third day of the women’s Mid-American Conference Swimming Championship that the Bulls would not win the competition as a team.
But it didn’t stop the team from continuing its pace for individual records.
The Bulls finished with nine individual first-place finishes and two team relay wins in 20 events, but finished fourth in the competition with 477 points in the women’s MAC Swimming and Diving Championship that began on Wednesday, Feb. 25 and concluded on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Michael H. Jones Natatorium in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Akron scored 650 points and won the tournament for the second year in a row. Eastern Michigan came in second place with 555 points, while Bowling Green finished in third place with 507 points.
“It was a solid meet for all,” said head coach Andy Bashor. “Everyone swam and competed incredibly well. I’m proud of this team.”
Buffalo finished the first day of competition tied for the lead with Akron and Eastern Michigan, each with 66 points.
Senior Spencer Rodriguez, junior Jessica Powers and freshman Megan Burns each had multiple first-place finishes, as well as winning in the 800-yard relay on the first day of competition.
The trio was also named to the All-MAC first team. Rodriguez took the title for the most outstanding senior. Sophomore Brittney Walters made All-MAC second team.
The final event of the night was the 800-yard freestyle relay, which was won by Buffalo. Rodriguez, Powers, Walters and freshman Hannah Miller set a pool record, with the winning time of 7:14.82.
Rodriguez and Powers both won single events as well. Powers won the 500-yard freestyle, reclaiming her MAC title. Rodriguez defeated Eastern Michigan’s Jessie Godlewsk, winning the 200-meter individual medley.
Freshman Megan Burns earned a perfect season after winning the 50-freestyle. Burns won with a season-best time of 22.69 in her first MAC championship appearance. She ended her first season 52-0.
“It was great swimming for her,” Bashor said. “She’s a freshman, so it’s the longest meet she’s ever been to. So, for her to hold up and get out there in the race – going 52-0 – she's done great and stepped it up. She had a great meet.”
The second day of competition ended with Buffalo in third place with 211 points. Akron held the leader spot with 242 points as Eastern Michigan trailed closely behind with 221 points.
Rodriguez won the 400-meter individual medley, breaking the school record with a time of 4:17:03. Powers claimed her third win of the competition when she took the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:48.10.
The Bulls made history on the second day of the championship; it was the first time since Ohio in 2001 where a school won all three individual events in a competition day.
On the last day of competition, Powers won the 1,650-meter freestyle while Rodriguez finished second. Miller came in fifth heading into the meet’s final races. Each of the swimmers finished with their season-best time for the event as well.
Burns won her final individual race of the season when she took first in the 100-meter freestyle. Her 49.04:00 time was good enough for a berth in the NCAA B-cut qualifier.
The final relay race of the event was the 400-freestyle. The Bulls finished strong and took first-place. Rodriguez, Burns, Steffl, and Kosten set a pool record of 3:20.86.
Although it was the most points Buffalo scored in a MAC Championship, Bashor said he is ready to improve for the next season of swimming.
“We finished fourth, but it's the highest point total [we’ve] ever scored at [the] championship,” Bashor said. “We've just got to be better prepared and get better next year. We’ll take some time off and improve so we have a shot at the championship. We have our work cut out for us. We just need to put in the effort and swim.”
Bobby McIntosh is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org