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Swimming, diving teams dominate home opener | The Triangle
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Swimming, diving teams dominate home opener

The men’s and women’s swimming teams were dominant against Seton Hall University Oct. 27 in their home opener. (Photograph by Alexandra Pachkowski for The Triangle)

The last time the Drexel University’s men’s swimming and diving team took to the diving blocks, the results they saw were a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, despite a somewhat depleted roster due to injuries, several individuals stepped up to score crucial points. On the other, these performances were not enough to secure a win for the Dragons, as their competitors, La Salle University, managed to walk away with the victory.

Despite the disappointing start to their season, the men took the loss on the chin and prepared themselves for their home opener against visiting Seton Hall University Oct. 27, who were further along in their season and had alternated wins and losses before being hosted at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

The Drexel University women’s swimming and diving team saw a much better start to their season, making short work of La Salle when they visited the Explorers Oct. 20. The women’s roster was at full strength during their domination, so it was expected they bring the same energy against Seton Hall.

And bring it they did. The women started off their day with the 400-yard medley relay, which they swept with relative ease. The winning team, which finished with a time of 3:52.59 was composed of senior April Forsthoffer, juniors Kaitlin Perni and Alexa Kutch, and sophomore Gabrielle Rudy. The second place team was made up of senior Charlotte Myers, juniors Alicia Diaz and Hollie Hopf, and freshman Megan Sicinski, coming in at 3:57.01.

The women’s freestyle specialists were especially effective against Seton Hall on the day. Senior Niki Fistrovic pushed herself to a third place finish in the 1000-yard free with a time of 10:50.17, while sophomore Natalie Gundling took second in the 200-yard free with a 1:56.53 time. On the heels of Gundling was her junior teammate Dora Gercsak, who took third in the event with 2:00.20. The 100-yard free saw Gundling take second at the 54.28 mark, while Perni touched the wall in 55.74 to hold onto third. In the 50-yard free, Hopf swam to a second place finish and a 25.10 time.

Taking the top two positions in the 200-yard breaststroke were Kutch and Diaz, who finished in first and second, respectively. Kutch’s time of 56.23 earned her the victory, while Diaz was alongside her for the duration of the race, finishing in 57.87.

The Dragons fleshed out the highest marks in the 100-yard breaststroke, with Rudy earning herself the top spot on the podium in 1:04.48. Sicinski closed in on second place two seconds later and senior Sarah Cahill edged out her competition to complete the sweep of the top three. Drexel managed to impress in the 200-yard butterfly as well, as Forsthoffer secured first place with a 2:07.51 time, while Charlotte Myers picked up points with a third place finish.

On the diving front, freshmen Katie Caputo and Hannah Jordan were both solid in the three meter dive, with Caputo tallying 223.9 points, complemented by Jordan’s 216.5. The scores were enough to propel Caputo to second and Jordan to third in the standings. Later on in the one meter dive Caputo would score 252 points en route to her first collegiate victory. She was joined in her celebration by Jordan, who scored 212 and took third in the very same event.

The swim sprints resumed with the 200-yard breaststroke, where Kutch and Diaz put their stamp on the race. Kutch wound up as the overall winner of the category, taking it with a 2:04.99 time. Diaz performed well enough to take hold of the runner up spot in 2:07.36. They were followed up by Sicinski and senior Becca Churchill in the 200-yard backstroke, who took the top two spots in their heat in dominant fashion. Sicinski’s 2:22.30 time garnered her a first place finish, while Churchill’s 2:26.54 put her in second.

Despite the day’s grueling schedule, the energy of the lady Dragons rarely faltered. Freshman Jordan Washart and Fistrovic had respective times of 5:15.63 and 5:17.98 in the 500-yard freestyle, which placed them firmly into the second and third spots in their event standings. Another first ever collegiate win was seen by Hopf, who shook up the 100-yard butterfly seedings along with Myers to take first in 59.12. Myers missed out on the top spot by three-fifths of a second.

Consecutive placements in the top three of the 200-yard individual medley brought even more success for the women’s side, as Rudy took first, Forsthoffer second and Diaz third. The trio put up respective times of 2:08.71, 2:09.47 and 2:12.85.

The women capped off their run of wins with one last first place finish in the 200-yard relays. Perni, Gundling, junior Courtney Levins and Kutch came together and took the relays by storm with a winning time of 1:38.83. Third place was also snatched up by Dragons Sicinski, Myers, Hopf, and freshman Corinne McCurley, who finished with 1:39.78 as their time.

After the final scores were announced, Drexel’s women’s team were named the winners, their dominance unavoidably evident in the 184.5-109.5 score. The men’s team were able to capitalize on the momentum set forward by their fellow Dragons, as they ended their day with not only a much needed win, but two shattered school records.

Kicking the day off for the men’s team with the 400-medley relay, third place was earned by a squad consisting of juniors Spencer Hill, Joe Short and Andrew Zhugayevich, and sophomore Zach Valenzuela, which completed the race in 3:30.05. In that same event, Drexel’s primary squad of senior Ralph Cannarozzi III, freshman Paris Raptis and juniors Jason Arthur and Stathis Malamas stepped up to provide Raptis with his first career win as a Dragon. Raptis would later get another first place win in the 200-yard butterfly, coming in at 1:50.90. As Drexel’s A team settled onto the diving blocks, the group didn’t realize they would be setting a new pool record for the medley relay with a 3:22.77 finish.

Just as they had for the women, the freestyle specialists proved to be a major threat to Seton Hall’s chance of picking up spare wins here and there on the men’s side. Senior Patrick Cobb swam 1000 yards in the free to capture first place in 9:38.39. Senior Luke Hanner put in a serious effort to take second in the 200-yard free, hitting the wall at 1:44.30.

Arthur excelled in the 100-yard backstroke, taking the event for himself in 50.60. Sophomore Rhys Kawaguchi swam 53.04 to take third in the same event. The two were paired again in the 200-yard backstroke, where Arthur placed first and Kawaguchi second.

Cobb and senior Dane Bell both showed a lot of promise in the 500-yard freestyle, a race that Cobb took first in and Bell second, though only three seconds differentiated the two.

In the 100-yard breaststroke, senior Harrison Schultz took third in 58.55, but some more history was made when Cannarozzi broke a nearly 30-year-old school record to take first in 56.43. For his leadership and key roles in setting new pool records against Seton Hall, Cannarozzi was deemed worthy of the prestigious CAA Men’s Swimmer of the Week award. In addition, Cannarozzi scored points with a third place win in the 200-yard breaststroke, edged out by another Dragon, Valenzuela, for second.

Following his pivotal role in the record breaking medley relay, Malamas would not let up throughout the day. The junior would not quit seeing positive results, taking first in the 100-yard free, and second in the 50-yard free, the latter of which saw him accompanied by freshman John Scully, who scored third place with a 21.56 time.

Raptis, yet another member of the newly crowned 400-yard medley record holders, was keen to build on his wins, and did so with outstanding races in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard butterfly, earning the top spot in each. Freshman Dom Scifo took third in the latter event in 52.15.

The men closed out their day on top, having fully blown past Seton Hall. The 200-yard freestyle relay teams took first and third, in 1:24.57 and 1:27.48 respectively.  Zhugayevich and junior JonPat Ransom, sophomore Colin Kent and freshman Alex Flynn were the third place leg, Arthur, Scully, Malamas and junior David Kneiss comprised the winning squad.

The final 160.5-127.7 score went in favor of Drexel after the return of key personnel missing from the La Salle meet. The Dragons evened out their record on the men’s side, while both the men and women sent a message to the rest of the CAA that they will be a strong force this season.

Both Drexel’s teams will get a chance to showcase their mettle in Baltimore, Maryland at the Thomas Murphy Invitational, Nov. 2. The Dragons will face heavy competition from Loyola University Maryland, John Hopkins University and West Chester University. Their saviness and roster depth will be tested unlike any other point in the season.