Bulls Break Records But Fall Short of Title
The Bulls fell 19 points short of defending their swimming and diving Mid-American Conference Championship. Meg Kinsley /// The Spectrum
While the eyes of Buffalo were on Alumni Arena Saturday night for the men's basketball game, another Buffalo team was making its own run at a championship.
The men's swimming and diving team came into this years' Mid-American Conference Championships as defending champions with expectations of winning a second title.
But the Bulls (6-1, 1-0 MAC) fell just short this year, finishing 19 points behind Eastern Michigan (4-3, 1-0 MAC).
Buffalo went into the final day of the meet trailing by 11 points, and took the lead after a strong performance in the 200-yard backstroke. Junior Matt Schwippert placed second, while freshman Travis Bohn and sophomore Phil Aronica placed fifth and sixth respectively.
The Bulls held that lead until the 3-meter dive, an event that Eastern Michigan dominated. Eastern Michigan placed six divers in the top 16 of that event and took a commanding lead going into the final event.
Although Buffalo won the final event of the meet – the 400-yard freestyle relay – with a record time, it could not catch the Eagles.
This year's championship meet was surrounded by some unusual circumstances. After the preliminary heats on Friday morning, meet officials were forced to cancel the final heats due to tornadoes in the area.
As a result, the top 16 times from each event in the preliminary swims were treated as the final swims and assigned the usual point values. The 800-yard freestyle relay was moved to the end of Saturday's morning session.
Head coach Andy Bashor didn't know if swimming on Friday night would have changed the team standings at the end, but lamented the fact that his team didn't get the extra chance to swim.
"I would [have loved] for these guys to have that opportunity to race [Friday] night," Bashor said. "We had guys who had the opportunity to break some school records and try to qualify for NCAAs, but that was taken away."
As Bashor expected, the team had its strongest performance of the season. They set 12 school records, one more then they set at last years' championships.
Junior Matt Hogan had perhaps the most successful weekend of any Bull, finishing in the top two of every event that he swam. He also set three school records in the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, and the 200-yard individual medley.
He also helped in the 400-yard freestyle relay. After Buffalo had been neck-in-neck with the other teams for the first 300 yards, Hogan dove in and swam a split of 43.06, pulling the Bulls a full two seconds ahead of the rest of the field at the finish.
The disappointment that came with the second place finish is a strong indicator of the strides this program has taken in recent years. Bashor admitted that just two years ago falling 19 points short of first place would have been a huge accomplishment. But after winning it all last year, the Bulls expectations have been raised much higher.
The Bulls only graduate four seniors and return nearly all of their point scorers and they are optimistic about next season.
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