CAZENOVIA, N.Y. – It was a complete effort by the Gallaudet University men’s swimming and diving team this weekend as the Bison claimed their third North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship on Sunday night.
The Bison entered the third day of the conference championships, hosted by Cazenovia College, in second place just six points behind SUNY Cobleskill. In seven events on Sunday the Bison were able to overtake the Fighting Tigers and finish with 528 team points to claim the program’s first championship since the 2011-12 season. SUNY Cobleskill was second with 478 points followed by third-place Cazenovia (435) and defending champion Wells College (230) was fourth.
“Working with this team has been a real privilege for me this year,” said Gallaudet coach Larry Curran after Sunday’s finals. “Seeing the team develop from a bunch of individuals to becoming such a high performing unit has been truly amazing. The work and dedication they put in have resulted in a relay team that not only breaks records but obliterates them, strong individual performances that can win a conference championship.”
GU had its highest point total of the three-day weekend as the Bison tallied 199 team points in seven events. The Bison won its first and only event in the 200-yard backstroke dominated by senior DJ Everton-Lovell (Norfolk, Va.), who touched the wall in 2:10.02. The Bison added a second place finish in the 1-meter diving as sophomore Neal Matthews (Kent Island, Md.) tallied 189.75 points.
Gallaudet added four third-place finishes led by Abdiel Davila-Cruz (Orlando, Fla.) in the 200 breaststroke (2:40.52), freshman Jose Martinez (Chicago, Ill.) was third in the 1,650 freestyle and freshman Jeronimo Ocampos (Asuncion, Paraguay) was third in the 200 butterfly.
GU’s roster depth played a big role in aiding the Bison to their third conference title, the first in two seasons. Gallaudet won back-to-back NEAC men’s swimming and diving championships from 2010-11 to 2011-12. The Bison only had one first-place finish, three second-place finishes and nine third-place finishes. GU had 51 swimmers or teams finish their respective events in the finals and 25 percent ended up first, second or third and garnered 40 percent (212 points) of the team points total.
Cazenovia College’s Kory Parsons was named 2014 NEAC Swimmer of the Year, SUNY Cobleskill’s Nolan Graziano was tabbed as the 2014 NEAC Rookie of the Year while SUNY Cobleskill’s Nicole Damiano and Wells College’s Patricia George shared the 2014 NEAC Coach of the Year honors.
The official All-NEAC announcement will be made by the conference later this week or next. A swimmer or relay team needs to finish in the top three of its respective event, in the finals, to earn all-conference honors.