The Drexel swimming and diving teams will head to Piscataway, N.J., for the Frank Elm Invitational hosted Nov. 22 by Rutgers University. The men’s team has yet to be defeated through six meets, and the women’s team is coming off a disheartening loss to the Bearcats of Binghamton University, a close 159-141 contest.
There were a few bright spots during the Binghamton meet, but none was brighter than sophomore standout Madison Kramer. For her stellar performance, the Kramer was named the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Diver of the Week. She earned weekly honors after her first-place finishes in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives. The sophomore led all competitors with a score of 230.33 in the 1-meter and 243.98 in the 3-meter.
The women’s team was looking strong, claiming individual wins in the 200-yard free, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke, courtesy of Aubrey Murray, Gizem Yali and Rachel Bernhardt, respectively.
The men continued along their path of dominance, kicking off the competition with a big win, as Kyle Lukens, Chad Schmidt, Alex Chialastri and Alex Bagshaw stopped the clock at 1:35.50 for a first-place finish in the 200-yard relay. The Dragons had their eyes on a team title as they extended their efforts to pick up some more wins in the 200 free, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 200 fly. The competition looked rather sluggish as they attempted to keep up with the swift swimming of Chialastri, Schmidt, Mike Krohn and Joel Berryman.
“Joel Berryman has been giving us some outstanding performances this year in the backstroke events and sprint free events,” head coach Shawn Markey said. “Right now, Joel is the No. 1 seed in the 100-[yard] backstroke going into the Frank Elm Invitational.”
Both the women and the men were successful in their final 400-yard free relays against Binghamton. The team of Murray, Bernhardt, Claudia Duguay and Brianna Bentz swam to a first-place finish with a time of 3:35.92. For the men, the team of Lukens, Bagshaw, Chialastri and Berryman touched the wall at 3:12.04 to claim another victory.
As the Dragons prepare for the Frank Elm Invitational, Markey explained how the team’s training and hard work sets them apart from the competition once they hit the water on game day. “We trained fairly hard for this one; we only take a couple days off to rest before the meet. I know other teams take a much longer rest, but every team is different going into a meet like this, so it’s always interesting to see how our team copes with it mentally.”
This year, the competition is stiffening up a bit. With the addition of the U.S. Military Academy, a win at the Frank Elm Invitational is a much tougher task than it has been in recent years.
“Over the past two years, [Army] has done an exceptional job recruiting some top-level talent,” Markey said. “It’s not only the level of talent that has raised the bar, but they have the depth in every event.”
The Dragons have proven themselves to be viable contenders in each and every competition thus far. The women are anticipating this opportunity to bounce back from their loss to Binghamton, while the men’s team looks to be untouchable, and they haven’t shown any signs of slowing down just yet. Look for the Blue and Gold to embrace the challenge at this year’s Frank Elm Invitational.