Swim and Dive Beat Writer
As the calendar has turned to February, the Springfield College men’s and women’s swim teams turn their attention to the NEWMAC Championships that will be taking place at the end of the month.
The Pride men finish their regular season with a record of 3-10 during overall play. Their non-conference schedule was difficult, headed by Williams and a few other teams who they fell too.
Coming off a rather disappointing finish in the NEWMAC championships last year and an equally disappointing regular season, the men’s team is looking to rebound with a stellar performance this season. A strong outing may be difficult to forecast, as the team comes in on a three meet losing streak, but there is still optimism surrounding the team. Junior Sean Harnish believes his team is not one to be slept on going into NEWMAC play.
“I expect my team to excel at championships,” said the man who has been tasked with leading the Pride all year. “I believe my team will not only impress other teams in the conference but impress themselves as well.”
Harnish has been the key for the success of the men’s team all season. Thrust into an early leadership role, he has shown that he is more than capable of handling the responsibility that comes with the role.
“As a leader on the team I have tried my best to aid the other guys by giving advice and pushing them to become better,” said Harnish. “I believe that I am able to better them by teaching them things that I have learned from my past and how they can contribute to improve mentally and physically.”
Despite his individual success in and out of the pool this season, Harnish continues to give credit to his teammates for making his job easier, claiming, “I am very grateful to my teammates for all of the hard work they have put in and the respect they have given me”.
The men’s team as a whole is a tight group that considers themselves a family, which has contributed to their success up to this point. Despite falling in some meets, nobody on the team has let the losses get to them according to the team’s captain.
“The atmosphere in and out of the water is always positive,” explained Harnish. “Anytime we practice or compete it is done so together.”
Freshman swimmer Erik Jensen has been unbelievable this season for the Pride and has only improved since the first part of the season. Jensen and Harnish remain crucial members to the men’s success this February.
Another key component of the team is sophomore diver Connor Pennington. Pennington has impressed on the board so far this season, already qualifying himself for nationals and has picked up points for his team in every event he has been apart of. He had some of his best personal meets in Pride victories this season, proving that the team relies on Pennington to be a focal point of the diving team.
In the NEWMAC championships, Springfield will have some tough tests ahead of them. MIT and Coast Guard, who came in as preseason favorites, will be standing in the way of Springfield’s success in late February. The men lost to both of those teams in meets earlier this season but there could be a change of fortune. If the Pride stick together and everything goes right for them, their personal expectations of being a tough out could be a reality.
Springfield’s women fared far better than the men overall this season finishing with a record of 5-9. Their best wins came during the final stretch run over Union and Roger Williams.
Like the men, the women are also looking to improve on last year’s finish at the NEWMAC championships and believe that they have what it takes to do so. The Pride come into the championships having lost consecutive meets but before that, ran off a stretch of three wins in four tries.
The key for Springfield to stay afloat in the championships is Grace Moore. The freshman phenom has risen to the every challenge faced with her this season and has led the team in several events. Moore consistently shows great poise in relays and individual events, topping not only Springfield’s other swimmers but also the competition.
In the Pride’s last meet victory against Roger Williams, Moore was incredible earning first place in the 200 backstroke (2:11.80), second in the 100 back (1:00.53) and third in the 200 IM (2:16.33).
Moore’s contributions didn’t stop in the individual competitions either as she anchored the 200 relay team to a second place finish.
On the diving board, senior Sierra Skaza looks to impress in her last NEWMAC championship tournament. A national qualifier, she has been dominating both the 100 meter and 300 meter boards all season long and consistently has picked up points for her team. Skaza has been instrumental in the development of sophomore diver Bailee Carey, who has been impressive as well this season.
Going into the championships, Springfield looks to do better against conference opponents than it did during the regular season. The Pride’s toughest opponents this season were MIT and Wheaton, who they both lost to. If Springfield can get everyone on the same page and bring some of their out of conference success into the NEWMAC championships, they will be a team that surprises some people come late February.
Photo courtesy Springfield College Athletics