PREVIEW: Capital Athletic Conference

It’s been an offseason of major transition for the Capital Athletic Conference. Marymount departed for the newly formed Atlantic East Conference, reducing the league to just five members. The coaching carousel also set up shop within the league, as three of the five schools have new head coaches in 2018-19. At York, Greg Doyle’s departure to be an assistant at D-I Wingate eventually brought in Eric Rasmussen as the new HC of the Spartans after a lengthy career in the swimming/aquatics realm that has seen HC stints at NJIT and D-I St. Peter’s and assistant jobs at multiple D-I programs, including national powerhouse Texas. When Mary Washington’s HC Abby Brethauer headed north to become associate HC at Tufts, Justin Anderson returned to his alma mater after five years at Frostburg State. That void allowed Bryan Christiansen to take his first HC job at Frostburg after serving as an assistant at both SUNY-New Paltz and John Carroll over the past few years.

With all that said, what really matters is the same: swim fast in February and March. And when it comes to that, not much should change, as Mary Washington and York should be at the top of the league once again in 2018-19.

Here are our projected standings with previews:

CAPITAL WOMEN:

  1. Mary Washington – The Eagles lost two major pieces in Megan Murphy – one of just two swimmers to win three titles (1IM/1FL/2FL) at CACs – and Maddy Rymer (49 pts). Junior Julia Geskey (57, 4 relays) is back after winning league titles in the 200 and 400 IM and missing invitation to NCAAs in the 4IM by less than half a second, as is Claudia Keller, who won the 500 and 1650 during a standout freshman season. Every swimmer on UMW’s conference roster scored at least 20 points, including five other 40-point scorers (Callie Dunham, Erin Whitesell, Mary Zagrobelny, Kait Luncher, Grace Gartman), so they should be able to absorb some of their losses. Grace Nicolai (57.89/1:57.1/5:05/18:22, 2:09.5 BA, 1:07.9/2:24.8 BR, 1:01.8/2:09.4/4:30.7 IM) is one of the top freshmen in the league and could challenge for multiple conference titles immediately, while Sally Burkley (26.34/57.68/2:02.9, 1:07.7/2:27.9 BR, 59.94/2:29 FL, 2:21.9/4:51 IM), Ingrid Dizon (25.69/55.81 FR, 1:12.3/2:33.9 BR, 1:02.9/2:18 FL, 2:18.8/4:48 IM), and Macey Lynch (26.29/56.96/1:58.7/5:11.9/17:57, 1:01.1/2:12.6 BA, 2:20.7 IM) should all be able to make the conference roster and score major points.
  2. York – YCP lost more than any other team in the conference, as Jenna Hufnagle (45 pts, 1 relay) didn’t return to go along with the graduations of Rachel Spaulding (45, 3r), Danielle Werner (43, 2r), and Kacy Banks (30), among others. Junior Justine Wantz (53, 3r), the defending champ in both backstrokes, is back, as are triple runner-up Adrianna Ayala (51, 4r) and Andrea Sturgis (47, 2r). The Spartans also get an enormous boost from the return of Madeline Mann, the 2017 CAC Champ in the 500 and 1650 and runner-up in the 200. Kristin Bria (24.75/56.29, 1:10.6 BR), Taylor Harper (25.98/55.15/2:04.1, 1:04/2:25 BA, 1:10.8/2:33.8 BR, 1:00.9/2:27 FL, 2:14.3/4:52.8 IM), and Colleen Mahoney (25.69/55.59/5:14/11:01, 1:02.5/2:11.6 BA, 2:20 FL, 2:15.5 IM) are the best of York’s six newcomers.
  3. Frostburg State – The Bobcats finally reached the end of the Macey Nitchie era, as the standout sprinter and two-time CAC Swimmer of the Year graduated last spring after sweeping the sprint free events in 2018. However, Frostburg St. does return its next nine scorers from CACs last year, headlined by senior Maddie Weinberger (52 pts., 4 relays), who swept the breaststroke events a year ago. Haley Benedictis (26.46 50, 1:13.2/2:43.8 BR) and Aubree Morris (26.7/58.1/2:05.3, 1:02.3 FL) are the cream of an eight-woman recruiting crop.
  4. St. Mary’s – SMC still doesn’t have their 18-19 rosters online on their website, so we were forced to use the roster on CollegeSwimming.com. By that roster, SMC does return five of its top six scorers, including Anna LaPoint (43 pts, 4 relays), Hailley Baughman (40, 4r), and Carolyn Sutton (31, 4r). All six recruits are capbable of scoring at the league meet, led by Rileigh Krell (59.84/2:12.8 BA, 1:01.5 FL), Brenna Litynski (26.3/56.7/1:58.5/5:21/19:05, 2:19.6/4:57 IM), and Holly Smith (26.65/57.7, 1:09.77/2:36 BR, 1:03 FL).
  5. Salisbury – The Seagulls return their top three scorers in Emma Tarnosky (29, 4 relays), Angela Barzanti (23, 4r), and Jordyn Rowe (23, 4r) but not too much beyond that. SU did bring in 10 newcomers, highlighted by Mary Green (26.48/57.75/2:08.54/5:54.5) and Ryane Porter (26.37/58.00/2:05.68/5:49, 5:06.9 IM).

CAPITAL MEN:

  1. Mary Washington – While UMW lost more points to graduation (154) than any other team in the league and will miss Kenyon Huber-Wilker (48, 4 relays), Chris Cassingham (38, 1r), Matt Martinez (36), and Anthony Stephens (32), their incredible depth is well equipped to absorb such losses. All 18 of their scoring swimmers from the 2018 CAC Championships scored at least 23 points, including eight returning 40-point scorers. Senior Jeffrey Leckrone, an NCAA qualifier and last year’s CAC 200 Breast champ, leads the way for the Eagles alongside four juniors in Austin Farrar (50, 1r), Carsen Mumford (48, 1r), Noah Carptenter (47, 1r), and Mark Dye (46, 1r). The league’s best recruiting class will help to make up for the team’s losses; Matt Curran (22.24/48.81/1:45.44/4:58, 51.33/1:51 BA, 59.55/2:12 BR, 1:54.85/4:14 IM), Jonathan Brooks (18:34, 57.67/2:07.8 BR, 1:57.3/4:12.3 IM), and Jeffrey Leckrone’s younger brother Thomas (50.33 FR, 52.2 FL) should make the most immediate impacts.
  2. York – Barring something unexpected, YCP is a lock to finish in second this year, as the Spartans lost as much as UMW without bringing quite as much in. Keven Stahl is back after a sensational freshman year that saw him win three conference titles (500/1650/4IM), garner CAC Rookie of the Year honors, and become an Honorable Mention All-American in the mile. Junior Jesse Tate also won multiple individual titles (2IM/2FL), and Kaelan Dowdell (44 pts.) had a strong freshman season of his own. Graduate Morgan Schreiber (55 pts., 4 relays, 1BA/2BA champ) was the team’s biggest loss, but Trevor Brinton (35.5, 3r), Glaucio Silva (25), and Gabriel Penn (19) didn’t return to the team this year. Five of the team’s seven recruits should be able to score right away, led by Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Gentry (22.06/48.37/1:44.9/4:45/17:55, 51.49/1:56.3 BA, 50.75/1:57 FL, 4:16 IM) and Kyle Shane (50.3/1:47.7/4:49/17:34, 53.3/1:56.7 BA, 4:28 IM).
  3. Salisbury – The margin between Salisbury and the two teams above them will likely grow even greater this year, as the Seagulls didn’t bring in enough to offset the losses of graduates Conor Johnston (32 pts., 2 relays), Stephen Arcidiacono (31), and Bill James (20) and three underclassmen (14). Junior Josh Brown is back after joining York’s Stahl as the only two swimmers to win three individual titles at the 2018 CAC Championships (50/1FL/1IM). In fact, SU returns its top four scorers, as seniors Peter Moyer (43, 3r), Jake Ryan (37, 4r), and Richard Baker (34, 4r) are also back. However, Brandon Hoagland (49.38/1:50.1 FR, 57.09/2:02.8 BA, 53.9/2:02.2 FL, 2:07.8/4:25.6 IM) is the only newcomer who comes in with times indicating he’ll make a significant impact.
  4. Frostburg State – The Bobcats simply won’t be able to replace the loss of Christian March, the 2017 and 2018 CAC Swimmer of the Year and last year’s 100 Breast champion, but their top four returning scorers are all freshman, which is a good sign for the years to come. Luke Holloway, the 2018 100 Free champ, will look to build off a fantastic freshman campaign, as will Anthony Giuseppetti. Adam Stein (1:53/5:01/17:25, 4:29.6 IM) and Cameron Edwards (50.8/1:53.9, 59.4/2:09.5 BA, 5:07.8 IM) are the best of FSU’s six-man recruiting class.
  5. St. Mary’s – The roster situation is the same for the Seahawk men, and the loss of Kieran Broder, Maxwell Madden and two other swimmers to graduation now seems even worse with the apparent early departure of second-leading scorer Colin Cassady (42 pts., 4 relays). It’s possible that Cassady just missed their first meet, and, if that’s the case, we move the Seahawks ahead of FSU into the four-slot. Distance freestyler Andrew Scott (49 pts, 2 relays) is back after a standout freshman season, and juniors Peter Orban (33, 4r) and Ryan Akhavan (23, 1r) also return. Andrew March (9 pts in BR/IM at ’17 CACs) returns to the team after a year away, and Lucas Wheal (23.0/49.1/1:49.7/5:13, 55.7 FL, 2:05.6 IM) appears to be the team’s top freshman.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Julia Geskey, UMW
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Grace Nicolai, UMW
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Keven Stahl, York
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Matt Curran, UMW/Austin Gentry, York

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