PREVIEW: Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference

For our next conference preview, we head westward in Pennsylvania and its bordering states for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The AMCC continues to change in its third year holding its own league championships apart from the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, adding SUNY-Delhi and seeing the departure of Cabrini to the newly formed Atlantic East while Alfred State continues into its second year.

In 2018, Penn State Behrend ran away with the men’s title ahead of a tight battle for second between Pitt-Bradford, Cabrini and Alfred State. In the women’s meet, Cabrini held off Behrend and Alfred St. in a close three-way race.

Here are our projected standings with previews:

AMCC WOMEN

  1. Alfred State – The Pioneers lost the least among the three teams who competed for the AMCC crown last year, as graduate Josey Brewer (17 ind. points, 0 relays) and all-conference breaststroker Kaileigh Lehman (29 pts, 4 relays) were the lone losses. Leading the way among returners are junior Sarah Stevens, who swept the diving events to earn AMCC Diver of the Year honors and also impressively took third in the 400 IM (44 points, 4 relays), and another all-conference performer in sophomore distance freestyler Kathryn Lewis (37 points, four relays). Sarah Stevens’ younger sister Rebecca, who split titles with her sister at the 2017 AMCC Championships in a pair of 1-2 finishes for the siblings, returns, and three of the Pioneers’ three other newcomers should make major impacts. Jessie LaRue (55.29/2:02.5 FR, 1:01.80 1BA, 2:24 2IM) leads the trio while Grae Feely (1:16.5 1BR) and Leaha Langerman (Diver/1:09.76 1BA) should both contribute.
  2. Penn State Behrend – The Lions lost two of their top three scorers and a pair of program greats in two-time conference MVP Gwen Lowery (45 points, 4 champ relays) and 2017 AMCC MVP Maryn Horn (45 points, 4 champ relays), but they do have the top two returning scorers from the 2018 AMCC Championships in junior Abigail Witmer (45 pts, 100 Fly/100Back Champ, 1 champ relay) and senior Jessica Wyckoff (45 pts, 100/200 Free Champ, 4 champ relays), individual all-conference sprinter Paola Maldonado (33.5 pts, two champ relays), and league champ relay members Lacey Grinnen and Devon van Rensburg. PSB brought in eight true newcomers to go with one returner and two water polo players joining the squad. Barbie Cessar (1:11.36 1BR, 2:18.69 2IM) should score major points in the breast and IM events and Marcella Puglia (25.77/55.25/1:58.30/5:19/18:12) could contend for league titles in any of the freestyle events while also filling a major relay void, but, based on what we could find on them, don’t expect too much from the rest of the class.
  3. Franciscan – There’s a major dropoff from the top three teams in the AMCC to Francsican in the four-slot, but 10 newcomers give the Lady Barons the advantage over the teams below them. Franciscan loses 63 of the 79 individual points they scored at the 2018 AMCC Championships to graduation, led by one of the program’s all-time greats and 4x AMCC individual champion Elizabeth McNulty (44 pts, 200BR/200FL Champ, 3 relays). Senior Sarah Tohill returns as the conference runner-up in 1-Meter Diving, and incoming freshmen Colleen Farabaugh and Emily Reuwer should make huge impacts immediately. Farabaugh (25.69/55.89/2:00.54 50-200 Free, 1:10.34 1BR, 2:36.9 2BR, 2:18 2IM) could contend for conference titles in a number of events while Emily Reuwer is the league’s only swimmer with a sub-1:00 100 Fly during her life (58.83) and is also strong in the 100 Free (56.14) and Fly (1:01.18).
  4. Penn State Altoona – New HC Bradley Brooks has a lot of work ahead of him, as six of last year’s 10 swimmers left the team in addition to graduate Alexis Franks. Add in just one recruit in Kaitlin Heil, and the Lions have just four swimmers on their roster at the start of the 18-19 campaign. Conference 200 Back champion Emily Booz is the biggest of the losses (39 pts, 4 relays), but Altoona does return 2018 AMCC Newcomer of the Year in Danielle Bye (37.5 pts, 4 relays), who was the league runner-up in both the 100 Fly and 200 IM last year.
  5. Pitt-Bradford – The Panthers have just two swimmers on their roster as of release of this preview, as three non-seniors did not return to the team. Jillian Wright is the biggest of those losses, as she scored 23 points in the breaststroke events, but the bigger factor is that the loss of those three will prohibit the Panthers from composing relays. Junior sprinter Kayla Broad (16 points, 4 relays) returns, and newcomer Alexia Garcia (1:13.94 1BR, 1:04.13 100 Free) should score, but not enough for Bradford to beat anyone but…
  6. SUNY-Delhi – First-year AMCC program SUNY-Dehli has just one female swimmer on its roster at the start of this year in sophomore Julia Witt. Witt could contend for some B-finals in the sprint freestyle events.

AMCC MEN

  1. Penn State Behrend – Behrend’s streak of AMCC titles grew to 12 by a large margin in 2018 and nothing should keep the Lions from stretching the streak to 13 this year, as they return their top seven scorers and 15 of 18 from last year’s title team. Senior conference MVP Mark Patterson (48 pts., 200/500 Free, 200 Back Champ, 4 relays (2 champ)) – the only swimmer in the league to record an NCAA B-Cut time – leads the way for PSB, who also returns three other individual conference champions in Steven Owens (100/200 Fly), Noah Babik (100/200 Breast) and Brady Mattson (1650 Free). Chase Bietz leads a 10-man recruiting class and is the early favorite to win conference titles in the 100 Breast (56.68) and 200 IM (1:52.85) while James Connolly (1:46.5 200 Free, 16:34 1650, 59.88/2:14.3 BR, 2:03 2IM) and Matt Karebauer (52.38/1:59 Fly, 55.68 1BA, 2:00.92 2IM) should compete for titles in multiple events. Breaststroke/IMer Charlie Nesbit (58.81/2:22.7 BR, 2:05 2IM) should be a factor in his events.
  2. Alfred State – With only Bryce Cutler (29 pts, 2 relays) graduating from last year’s squad, the Pioneers seemed poised to leap into the second spot in the AMCC this year, but five underclassmen did not return to the team this year, perhaps none more important than 2018 AMCC Diver of the Year Nick Beach (champ on both boards). Those departures combined for 99 individual points and 11 relay slots. Last years’ 400 IM Champ Nick Beach (38 pts, 3 relays) leads the way among returners while Austin Miller and Jackson Teboe will be counted on, as well. Ryan McDowell, who took 8th in the league in the 100 Fly in 2017, returns after a season away, and he should also contribute in the 2Fly and 2IM. Distance swimmer Austin Eckrich (1:58/5:16/18:27) leads the team’s newcomers, while Alex Gargano can contribute in the breaststroke (1:11).
  3. Pitt-Bradford – After claiming the league’s runner-up spot last year, the Panthers likely will take a major step back in 2018-19. While Bradford graduated just one senior in all-conference backstroker Corey Koss (25 pts, 4 relays (3 champ relays)), six additional swimmers comprising 148 individual points and 13 relays slots did not return, none more important than 2018 AMCC Newcomer of the Year Jared Schwab (50 Free/100 Back Champ) and sprinter Ben Koss (100 Free Champ). Freshman Nathan Kim (1:51.1 200 Free, 55.09 1BA, 1:58.96 2BA, 53.66 1FL, 1:56.87 2FL, 2:02.39 2IM) could contend for titles in multiple events, while Caleb Hansen (22.17/48.39/1:52.08 Free, 55.15 1BA, 2:03.9 2BA, 55.22 1FL, 4:33 4IM) should score well in whichever events he chooses.
  4. Penn State Altoona – Much like their female counterparts, the Lion men have a long hill to climb after nine non-graduates didn’t return from last year’s roster. New HC Bradley Brooks does get back junior flyer Tanner Yaw (21 pts, 4 relays), the team’s top scorer at the 2018 AMCC Championships, and junior Greg Landis and sophomore Andrew Lesnett also return after scoring eight points each. Among the team’s five newcomers, Matt Beam, Michael Begany, and Cooper Gilkey could each score points in some of the league’s weaker events.
  5. SUNY-Delhi – The Broncos have seven swimmers who will compete in their first year in the AMCC, but, without some significant improvements, none will score beyond events that aren’t full.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Jessica Wyckoff, Penn State Behrend
  • Women’s Diver of the Year: Sarah Stevens, Alfred State
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Marcella Puglia, Penn State Behrend
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Mark Patterson, Penn State Behrend
  • Men’s Diver of the Year: Matthew Kuchcinski, Penn State Behrend
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Chase Bietz, Penn State Behrend

*Note: Our preview originally included Cabrini, whom we (foolishly) forgot departed for the newly formed Atlantic East Conference following the 2017-18 academic year.

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