COBLESKILL, N.Y. - It was a dominating performance by the Gallaudet University women’s swimming team this weekend at the Bouck Hall Natatorium on the campus of SUNY Cobleskill as the Bison claimed the 2011 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship on Sunday night. This is the first year Gallaudet has been a member of the NEAC after spending many years in the Capital Athletic Conference. The championship is only the third overall in Gallaudet’s women’s swimming program history and the first since 1986 when the Bison repeated as Chesapeake League champions.
The Bison swept both conference titles as the men’s program also won the 2011 NEAC swimming and diving championship on Sunday evening.
“This feels wonderful! It doesn’t get better then this [sweeping both titles],” said Gallaudet coach Bill Snape after the championship meet concluded. “Winning these championships is very emotional for me. I am not sure it has sunk in yet.”
Gallaudet posted 565 team points during the three-day championships as the Bison won eight of the 19 events. Runner-up Cazenovia College, the defending conference champions, was nearly 200 points behind the Bison as it tallied 372 points. Wells College was third with 347 points followed by the host Fighting Tigers from Cobleskill (301), College of St. Elizabeth (197) and SUNYIT (48).
Senior Carlisle Robinson (Carmel, Ind.) won six events, including being a member of three first-place Bison relays, and was named the 2011 NEAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year. Snape took home 2011 NEAC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year honors.
Robinson goes out on top along with six other members of the talented and deep senior class for Gallaudet. Two of the Bison seniors swam together in the final event, 1,650 yard freestyle, combined to earn 28 team points. Kayla Castro (Tucson, Ariz.) finished third overall (22:20.29) followed by Kate Johnson (Lake Alexander, Minn.) in sixth place (23:47.99). The final two Bison to finish were junior Emily Stemper (Harrisonburg, Va.) and sophomore Jennifer Hagerty (West Chester, Pa.).
The final relay for Gallaudet on Sunday included all seniors in Robinson, Katie Day (St. Elmo, Ill.), Misella Tomita (Kahului, Hawaii) and Rachel Steingieser (New Market, Md.) as the quartet won the 400 freestyle relay in 4:13.40 to add 32 team points to the winning total.
“I am not sure if this senior class will be replaced,” said Snape, who just completed his seventh season at the helm.
Sophomore Tong Song (Beijing, China) won the 200 breaststroke on Sunday as she touched the wall in less than three minutes (2:53.07). Freshman Valerie Farr (Fremont, Calif.) was close behind as she finished second in 3:03.13, over 10 seconds behind Song. The other first-place victory for Gallaudet on championship Sunday was Robinson in the 200 butterfly (2:25.12) as she finished 37 seconds in front of her nearest competitor.
“I want to thank SUNY Cobleskill for running a great conference championship this weekend. It had the feel of a big time championship meet. Everything was handled well,” said Snape. “This meet put the conference on the map.”
Gallaudet placed itself in position to win its first women’s swimming championship in 25 years when the Bison won three events on Saturday and finished second in two events. Robinson was first in the 100 butterfly (1:04.21) and was a member of the winning 800 freestyle relay team (9:26.85) along with Tomita, Song and Castro. Song also won the 100 breaststroke (1:20.13) followed by Farr in second place (1:22.02).
“We were not trying to talk or think about it [winning the titles] on Saturday,” said Snape.
A key to both championship wins for the Bison swimming programs was the depth Gallaudet sent to Cobleskill. GU was able to secure crucial points when they were able to enter a second relay team to compete in the ‘B Finals’ where the Buff and Blue won the majority of those races which brought in double digit point totals for Gallaudet’s team scores.
“Every single person stepped up and did their best this weekend,” said Snape. “There is no way we would win these championships without them.”
GU sends off one of its most talented senior classes on top and now knows what it takes to win a conference championship as a team. The Bison will begin its title defense starting tomorrow as the 2011-12 season is just over seven months away.
2011 NEAC Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships