Men and Women Close Home Schedule with Impressive Performances
SAINT LEO, Fla. – It was a special day at the Bowman Center Pool as five team records fell in the Lions dual triumphs over visiting Rollins College in Sunshine State Conference action on Senior Day. The men rolled in a 157-105 victory and the women rallied in the final three events to claim a 142-120 win.
"Our women tied earlier in the year, so to beat the Tars by 22 points is a direct reflection of our improvement from the beginning of the year to now," quoted head coach Paul Mangen. "We will use this momentum as we head into the conference and NCAA preparations. The SSC is one of the most highly anticipated DII swimming conferences in the country and we're very excited to be a part of that equation and add to the zeal.
Like the women, our men increased the margin of victory from 20 to 52, showing more development despite some injuries and roster changes from the last time we faced the Tars. The men wanted to break that 200 medley relay today so we decided to put up one of our best lineups for that specific event. They accomplished that team goal as well as about a dozen best dual meet swims individually."
After honoring six graduating seniors prior to the meet, the Lions proceeded to claim wins in 21-of-28 combined events, with Michael Cozzi claiming wins in four individual events. Men's swimmer Antonio Roki had the best day of all SLU swimmers as he broke three team records in his four victories.
When reflecting on his relationship with his graduating class, Mangen said, "I'm happy for our seniors to have had such accomplished careers here at Saint Leo and to cap off our dual meet season with two big wins over a program that's been around for two decades. Their contributions in the pool and the classroom, and their character are invaluable and play an integral part in our growth as a program."
Roki set new marks of :53.56 in the 100 yd backstroke, 1:57.57 in the 200 yard backstroke and set a record in the backstroke leg of the 200 yard medley relay with a time of :25.17. He wasn't the only men's swimmer to set records as Derek Maddigan and Gabriel Keown also set marks in their respective legs of the 200 IM. Maddigan set a new mark in the breaststroke leg with a time of :27.17 and Keown set a mark in the butterfly leg with a time of :23:17.
While the men's side of the meet was determined in the first half of the day, the Saint Leo women needed to rally after originally holding a lead over the visiting Tars. Suddenly down by one point with just three events remaining, the Lions saw seniors Mindy Pierce and Jessica Pall pick up wins in the 100 yd butterfly and the 200 yd IM to get SLU back on top. The Lions solidified the SSC win on the women's side when Saint Leo's top relay team claimed victory in the 400 yd freestyle relay.
Bianca Muniz and Maggie Walker were tops for on the women's side as both played parts in four individual or team wins. Muniz claimed victory in the 100 and 200 yd breaststroke and Walker won honors in 50 and 100 yd freestyle. Both teamed up, along with Pierce and senior Alisha Adams to win the 400 freestyle relay, .09 away from a new team record, and Chloe Pellican and Adams to pick up the 200 IM relay.
"The team as a whole has finally broken through with the rigors of a very demanding training regiment, some tough losses, and for the past four weeks straight we've all gotten faster and I do not think that trend will change through conference and the NCAA's."
After concluding the final regular season meet for the Lions' six seniors, Adams, Pierce, Pall, Liz Casey, Thomas Rey and Travis VanBuren, the Lions will prepare for the SSC Swimming Championships in Orlando, Fla. The Lions will join the five other conference teams at the YMCA Aquatic Center over the week of February 17-20 to compete for the first-ever SSC swim title.