An enthusiastic crowd cheered as the Binghamton men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams picked up dramatic home victories over St. Bonaventure on Saturday afternoon. They were treated to a nail-biter, with the women (7-1) pulling through 159-145 and the men (4-1) triumphing 155-145. As the Bearcats close out one of their most successful campaigns in school history, it was senior day for BU, and the friends and families of five women and six men were in attendance to cheer on the team. The decorated class of seniors honored included Brooke Pettis, Alex Brion, Colin Coughlan, Zach Kaplan and Matt DeVito.
In the meet’s final moments, the Bonnies were leading the Bearcats, 134-130 on the women’s side and 133-131 on the men’s, with just the 200 individual medley and 400 free relay left to swim. Undaunted by the pressure, Pettis and junior Ross Bernstein stepped up and won the 200 IM races with times of 2:14.25 and 1:56.55, respectively.
“We have a lot of experienced veterans who have been in this position before,” said BU head coach Brad Smith. “They really pulled through for us today.”
Binghamton’s 400 relay teams sealed the win. Sophomore Kaitlyn Smolar, juniors Sydney Atendido and Olivia Santos and freshman Belen Marriaga took first place (3:36.12). The men followed suit with Brion, sophomore Patrick Wilson and juniors Thomas Mackey and Tyler Meyers sweeping the final event (3:09.61).
“It was an amazing ending for us on both teams, and I can’t say enough about how we finished the meet,” Smith said. “Give Kudos to St. Bonaventure — they are a good program that really brought it today and gave us all we could handle. It was the most dramatic finish to a meet on both sides in my 13 years as a coach.”
A few individual performances stood out in the hard-fought team battle. In addition to winning the 200 IM, Pettis placed first in the 100 fly (57.59), second in the 200 fly (2:09.64) and captured the 200 medley relay alongside juniors Kristina Keefe, Sydney Atendido and Olivia Santos. Smolar won the 1,000 free (10:37.83) and the 500 free (5:11.89), leaving the runner-up trailing by about 6 seconds in both. Santos placed first in the 100 free (53.77), and sophomore Erica Bachiller swept the 100 back (58.92). The Bonnies also boasted a two-time victor, freshman Rachel Kimmel, who took the 100 and 200 breaststroke, (1:04.80) and (2:23.58) respectively.
On the men’s side, Brion dominated the 50 and 100 free, (21.04) and (47.33), and anchored the winning 200 medley team featuring Kaplan, DeVito and Wilson. Across the pool, St. Bonaventure sophomore Maciej Danilewski was a standout: his victories in the 1000-freestyle (9:58.51), 200-backstroke (1:52.45) and 500-freestyle (4:50.13) kept the meet tight.
BU’s divers ultimately helped the teams edge out the Bonnies. Freshman Chris Egan won the one-meter diving event (288.68), and Coughlan swept the three-meter diving competition (305.55). Freshman Amanda McGraw placed second in the women’s one-meter diving competition (255.90).
Overall, Saturday’s victory concluded a season of achievements and shattered records for BU. Smolar broke a 2012 program record in the 1,000 free during the squad’s meet against Canisius (10:22.96). In an October meet against Colgate, Bernstein broke the 2006 record set by 2007 NCAA qualifier David Holmes, ‘07, in the 200 fly, completing the event in 1:50.59. Holmes’ 12-year-old pool record was 1:52.05. Brion broke the pool record for the 50 free at the same meet, shaving 0.09 seconds off the 2004 benchmark.
“We are in a good spot right now,” Smith said. “Our teams are starting to peak at the right time, and a meet like today really helps us get ready for the conference meet. I told them all to enjoy the victory this weekend, but to be back ready to go on Monday.”
With their regular season now complete, the Bearcats head into the America East Championships with an 11-2 combined record. The multi-day event will take place Feb. 14 to 17 at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.