For the first time since 2003, the Binghamton men’s swimming and diving team won the America East championship, beating out the four-time defending champions UMBC with 889 points. The Bearcats edged out their conference opponents and earned their second title in program history over the weekend.
After the men’s diving team swept both the one-meter and three-meter dives the weekend before, the swim team never relinquished its lead. On the third and final day, UMBC began clawing back at Binghamton, coming within two points, but the Bearcats remained strong in the final three events to take the title.
“I’m super proud of our guys for being as resilient as they were and working hard and making the most out of everything,” said Binghamton head coach Jerry Cummiskey. “They just believed and did everything they could. I’m proud, it took all of them and it was a special weekend.”
During the awards ceremony, Cummiskey, along with assistant coach Mike Kline and diving coach Heather Colby, were awarded the AE Coaching Staff of the Year award. Junior Ryan Board was presented with the Elite 18 academic award, and the weekend before, senior David Walters was awarded the Most Outstanding Diver award.
The last time Binghamton won a conference title was 2016 when baseball won the AE tournament. In just his second year as head coach, Cummiskey already has an AE championship under his belt.
In addition to the win, several records were broken by Binghamton swimmers. Most notably, Board earned his second consecutive title in the 100 breast, breaking the meet record and school record with a time of 54.70. Freshman Lewis Lin also broke the freshman record in this event with a time of 55.90. Board had some other important swims, taking third place in the 200 breast (2:01.29) and fourth in the 200 IM (1:51.67). In the 200 breast, Board came in right behind Lin who took second (2:00.69)
“[Board] is a special guy,” Cummiskey said. “He wants it, he wants it every day. He works extremely hard and is really never satisfied no matter how fast he goes, and that’s special. He’s a leader in the pool and in practice every day.”
Freshman Liam Murphy was an integral part of the championship win and helped pave the way for BU, winning both the 500 free (4:30.57) and 1000 free (9:20.40). Murphy won the 1000 over the favored senior Kai Wisner from UMBC, smashing his seed time of 9:50.91 and breaking the school record in the process. The 1000 rather than the 1650 was swam for this year’s championship due to decreased training time.
“[Murphy] works hard every day,” Cummiskey said. “He sets the tone. We knew he was going to be there and have a great weekend. We know what he’s capable of, and I think he’s got a lot more in him. I think he’s going to be a big part of our future going forward.”
BU’s two other individual winners were freshmen Henry Shemet and Jake Vecchio. Right after Murphy won the 500 free, Shemet swam the 200 IM where he just barely edged out UMBC junior Luka Zuric, who won the event in the last AE championships. Shemet took gold in the event with a time of 1:50.41, over seven seconds faster than his seed time.
Vecchio had tough competition in the 100 fly, including NJIT freshman Ian Horstkamp-Vinekar who won the AE Most Outstanding Rookie award and who Vecchio lost to in the 100 fly earlier in the season. Vecchio was the only swimmer to go sub 49 seconds, beating out Horstkamp-Vinekar with a time of 48.98. Fellow freshman Sardon Karinsky took fifth in the event (49.59).
“This is a special freshman class that had an unbelievable weekend all around,” Cummiskey said. “[Shemet and Vecchio] came in and made an impact by winning events and adding depth. Around the board we were pretty well balanced. They all just swam well and bought in.”
Binghamton went into the meet with 106 points from the men’s diving performance the weekend before as opposed to UMBC’s zero points, as the Retrievers do not have a diving team. In past years, the lack of a diving team didn’t stop UMBC from taking the title, but this year it made all the difference, as BU won the championship by just 15 points.
“UMBC is a really talented team,” Cummiskey said. “They had ups and downs this year, and we just had a better weekend. We were lucky to come into the meet up 106 points because we had a great weekend with diving, and that really gave our guys the confidence they needed to start the meet.”
Binghamton tied a program record nine all-conference selections. Sophomore Justin Meyn earned third in both the 100 breast and 100 free, sophomore diver Ryan Cohn placed second in three-meter and third in the one-meter and senior diver Erik Temple took second in the one-meter and third in the three-meter. Also included was Walters, who won both the one-meter and three-meter dives, as well as Board, Lin, Murphy, Shemet and Vecchio.
Other top eight finishers included freshman Christopher Ghim, sophomore Matthew Palguta, senior Shane Morris, junior Benjamin Beldner, freshman Eric Kroon, freshman Travis Phillips, sophomore Zachary Ciriaco, sophomore Jackson Homan and freshman George Kipshidze.