The Messiah women continued their stronghold on the Middle Atlantic Conference in 2018 while the Albright men returned to the top, and we don’t see either of those things changing in the 2018-19 season. The league returns a pair of All-Americans at the top of their talent pool in Messiah’s Cassie Cotton and Widener’s Aaron Green.
Here are our projected standings with previews:
- Messiah – The Kaitlin Wingert (60 pts., 4r) era has come to an end, and Messiah’s run for their sixth-straight conference title gets a bit more difficult without the two-time MAC Swimmer of the Year and NCAA Qualifier. The Falcons also graduated four other seniors who combined for 83 individual points, but they do return four of their top five in now-sophomores Kaylee Hollenbach (57, 4r, 1BA/2BA champ) and Maelyn Elder (38, 1r) and seniors Cassie Cotton (54, 4r, 1FL champ). Cotton became the first swimmer in Messiah history to earn All-America honors last year, garnering HM status with her 15th-place finish in the 100 Fly. The Falcons do have one of the best recruiting classes in the conference, led by freshmen Jaclyn Lenhart (56.24 FR, 1:14.4 BR, 1:00.78/2:16 FL) and Nancie Ziegler (55.85/1:57.52/5:14.99) and Alfred State transfer Alley Sell (1:08.25/2:31.85 BR, 2:15.41/4:59.47 IM).
- Widener – Christine Kunzler (41 pts., 4 relays) is the only loss among the team’s top nine scorers, and juniors Jill Bujanowski (54, 4r, 2IM champ) and Nikky Mowry (48, 2r) give the Pride a great 1-2 punch at the top of their scoring. Seniors Kaylin Augustine (36, 4r), Jackie Hammill (28), Eva Partridge (26) and Lauren Griffith (24.5, 3r), and junior Sammy Grogan (32, 2r) are all back, too. Joining them are potentially the top two freshmen in the conference. Angelina Franceschini (25.43/55.36/1:56.45/5:13.99, 1:00.88 BA, 58.3/2:07.8 FL, 2:17.5 IM) is a pretty sure thing, while Emma Reistle (1:58.48/5:07.4/17:39, 59.1/2:09.1 BA, 2:15.7) is an interesting case, as all of her top times are from 2014. Widener should be solidly ahead of Misericordia either way, but if Reistle can find her previous form, the Pride could make things close with Messiah.
- Misericordia – The Cougars, already a team on the rise, bring in arguably the league’s deepest recruiting class, as both Kate Bernauer (25.3/54.68/2:01.82, 1:04 BA, 1:12.5 BR, 58.72/2:15.3 FL, 2:16.5/4:54 IM) and Alex Keeny (55.8/2:03.8/5:17.6, 1:02.7/2:14.3 BA, 1:04.4/2:16.2 FL, 4:44.9 IM) are among the league’s top rookies. Andrea Carlson (56.6/2:03.2 FR, 1:01.5/2:13.9 BA, 1:13.2 BR, 1:04.4 FL) and Mary-T Nikolski (56.59/2:01.6/5:33) should both be able to right away, as well. And don’t forget, Misericordia, who doesn’t have a senior on their roster, returns seven of their top eight scorers, led by double breaststroke champion Grace Nikolski (51.5 pts., 4 relays). Sierra Schertler (31, 4r), Rileigh Ellis (27, 2r), and Maggie Yount (24, 3r) will look to continue to build off last year’s experience.
- Arcadia – The battle between Misericordia, Arcadia, and Albright for the 3-5 spots should be tight, but we see the Knights falling in the middle, as they have the weakest recruiting class of the three. Back are the Knights’ trio of outstanding juniors in Megan Hupp (56 pts., 4 relays) – the 2018 MAC Champ in the 500 and 1650 – Rachel Samson (44, 4r) and Bailey Babarksy (36, 3r) and a pair of seniors in Alyssa D’Esposito (35) and Taylor Byers (31, 2r). Arcadia does lose two key pieces in graduate Rose Georgias (38) and Eunice Ardamoy (26, 3r), and Kira Alderman (1:12.49/2:43.69 BR) is the only freshman who comes in with scoring times. The Knights do add three returners capable of scoring in Rylee Cella, Gaby Hartney, and Caroline Patterson.
- Albright – The early losses of Ashlyn Chermol (51 pts., 4 relays) and Juli Hyatt (41, 3r), but Maggie Jones (36.5, 4r) returns after a good freshman year, as are juniors Alexis Willis (33, 4r) and Sammy Murphy (18, 4r). Alaina Ricci (55.82/1:59.50/5:18.2, 1:00.99/2:11.1 BA, 1:00.75/2:18.22 FL) is the best of a strong freshman class, and Allyson Kraff (2:03.3/5:20/18:10) and Regina McCarter (19:12, 2:20.88 FL, 4:55.5 IM) should both be able to score solid points.
- King’s – Junior Kirsten Siwy (54.5 pts., 4 relays) is back after winning MAC titles in both the 400 IM and the 200 Breast last year, and Kaelyn Gardner (21, 3r) and Noelle Pedersen (10.5, 1r) both return from strong freshman seasons. The Monarchs did lose a pair of swimmers to early departure in Amanda Schwerdtman (21, 1r) and Shannon Dolan (20), but Elizabeth Savidge (55.87 FR, 1:00.1/2:10.8 BA) and Claire Coe (25.74/56.04/2:01.2), the best two of nine newcomers, should be able to absorb most of those losses.
- Stevenson – The Mustangs should have at least one more really strong year before a potential dropoff, as leading scorer Melanie Milam (48 pts., 4 relays) is back alongside a terrific trio of seniors in Isabelle Ramsland (43, 4r), Julianna Burnett (38, 4r), and Colby Stein (38, 4r). Unfortunately, Stevenson still doesn’t have any scoring depth alongside those four, and this year’s recruiting class doesn’t appear to change that.
- Hood – Hood returns its only two individual scorers from 2018 MACs in senior Brianna Hand-Solomon (28 pts., 4 relays) and junior Kate Sanborn (11, 4r), but a pair of newcomers is the real reason that we move them up three spots from last year’s 11th-place conference finish. Freshman Danielle Pong (24.32/55.48 FR, 1:04.7/2:26.1 BR, 1:00 FL, 2:16.1 IM) should be in the title conversation in the breaststroke events, and Rhode Island transfer Ann Coleman (1:01.8/2:14.7 BA, 1:03.4 FL) will be a big help as well; both will greatly improve the Blazers’ relays.
- Lycoming – Matt McGuriman takes over as head coach for the retired Jerry Hammaker after serving for several years as an assistant at Ursinus. In terms of scoring, Lycoming should essentially be the same team as they were at MACs in 2018, as Brianna Zawadzki (3 relays) was the only loss from any of the team’s scoring. McKenna Zeller (30, 4r) and Mikayla Wright (20, 3r) are back after strong freshman seasons, and Emilie Kramer (23, 3r) will look to make her senior year a great one – she has the potential to reach three A-finals. The Warriors have two newcomers in Laura Grada and Devon Kaiser, but they appear to be at least a year away from contributing to scoring.
- FDU-Florham – Molly Miller (48 pts., 4 relays) returns after an outstanding freshman year, but she is the team’s only returner. Both Sarah Bennett (15, 4r) and Samantha Irace (13, 4r) graduated, and Mackenzie Doherty (26, 4r) and three others did not return. Three freshmen join Miller, but none has HS/club times that indicate scoring potential.
- Wilkes – Abby Keating (34 pts., 4 relays) is back after a terrific freshman season that saw her earn runner-up honors in the 400 IM, but she was the only Colonel to score an individual point last season The roster is mostly intact, and Wilkes did bring in two recruits, but new HC Thomas Limouze has a lot of work in front of him.
- Lebanon Valley – Despite competing in one meet already, LVC’s rosters still aren’t on their website, but, based on their roster on CollegeSwimming.com from their first meet, they lost quite a number of swimmers, including Kaitlyn Welch (5 pts., 3 relays). Their two other scorers from last year, Courtney Betsock (6, 4r) and Sarah Wolfe (3, 1r) are back as sophomores. The Dutchmen add seven newcomers, but none appears to have immediate scoring potential.
- Albright – The Lions’ recruiting class is, on paper, the clear best in the conference, and that factor should offset their losses to keep them on top of the MAC once again this year. Bryce Schaffer (57 pts., 2r) returns after sweeping the butterfly events as a freshman and triple runner-up Teag Culver (51, 2r) is also back. The Lions get an enormous boost with the return of 2x 100 Breast and 2017 200 Breast Champion Tyler Chamberlin. That addition, along with the addition of freshman Joseph Guiliano (22.37/48.03/1:47.65, 52.64/1:56.88 BA) should greatly improve Albright’s relays, particularly their medley relays. Albright does lose to big pieces early in Will Griffith (41, 1r) and Jay Deschamps (35, 4r), but seniors Brendan Mackey-Wood (35), Conor Hassard (33), and Sean Riddle (32) and junior Maliq Williams (30) give the Lions a second-tier like none other in the league.
- Arcadia – The losses of Grant Fisher (54 pts., 2r, 500/1650 champ) and Jacob Schedllinger (35, 3r) to graduation, as well as the early departure of Justin Reed (16), are enough to take the Knights out of the title race, but there is still plenty of talent. TJ Dalton (57, 3r), the 2018 MAC 400 IM and 200 Breast champion, will continue to be a force, and seniors Michael Melissen (43, 4r) and Andrew Givone (39, 1r) and juniors Mark Preedy (47, 4r) and Tristan Highet (37, 3r) join Dalton to give Arcadia a very strong core. The Knights have six newcomers, led by Joe Pedisich (53.64/2:02.81 FL) and Jack Cashin (57.63/2:05.19 BA, 1:03.3/2:19.5 BR).
- Widener – Two-time Honorable Mention All-American and 2018 MAC Swimmer of the Year Aaron Green (57 pts., 4 relays) is back to lead the way for the Pride after taking 9th in the 50 and 11th in the 100 at NCAAs in March. The Pride also return a trio of strong juniors in Martin Bohdan (41, 4r), JP Luksic (29.5, 2r), and Paolo Cortez (21.5, 3r). Daniel Parker (57.09/2:04.3 BA, 54.5/1:58 FL, 4:23 IM) should make big contributions as a freshman, but Widener’s lack of depth still keeps them from moving into the top two.
- Messiah – The Messiah men are likely to continue their downward trend in 2018-19, as leading scorer Nolan McArdle (49 pts., 4 relays) graduated, and two other key pieces in 200 free champion Drew Wolfe (47, 4r) and Jeffrey Gao (35.5) aren’t on this year’s roster. Ridge Hagar (44, 4r) and Daniel Logan (41) both return from great rookie campaigns, and Andrew Leeper (29, 3r) and Kurtis Plateel (25) are also back, but the Falcons have only two freshmen. Of those two, Tyler Wilkinson (48.66/1:47.5 FR, 55.16/2:03.4 BA) should make an impact.
- King’s – King’s returns nine of their top 10 scorers, including a trio of seniors in Bryce Groshardt (37 pts., 4 relays), Chris Soutter (30, 1r), and Dan Weekes (27, 4r) and junior 100 Breast MAC champ Rhyce Hammaker (37, 4r). Freshmen Kris Boxter (1:00.49/2:17.6 BR) and Shawn Parrott (57.67 BA, 54.85 FL), the best of the team’s six freshmen, should be able to replace the points lost by the early departures of Chris Michael and Chris Kwasizur.
- Misericordia – The Misericordia men will take a step back this year, as the final of the Grzech siblings is gone with the graduation of leading scorer Joe Grzech (46 pts., 4 relays). Juniors Ricky Averill (41, 4r) and Aidan Bergan (39, 4r) are back to lead the way, and Logan Fluegel (18, 4r) is coming off a solid freshman season. Of the team’s six freshmen, Jason Winters (1:02.06/2:18 BR) and Danny Chlebove (49.85/1:50.29) should be able to contribute.
- Wilkes – Wilkes should take a small jump up the MAC standings this year with new HC Thomas Limouze, as two of the Colonels’ recruits should be among their top scorers in Connor Brought (21.86/48.13/1:45.67, 2:04.12 IM) and Trey Harloff (1:02.8 BR, 2:03.6 FL, 2:03/4:32 IM). Jared Byrne (22 pts., 4 relays) is also back after a strong freshman season.
- Lycoming – Lyco takes a big hit with the graduation of second-leading scorer Andrew Canavan (24 pts., 3 relays), but 100 Back champion Callan Jordan (35, 4r) is back for his senior season to lead the way for the Warriors. Only two newcomers on this year’s roster, and Jake Booth (55.45 BA) appears to be the better of the two.
- Hood – Hood returns its only three individual scorers from a year ago in seniors Max Riedel (21 pts., 4 relays) and Matt Ball (17, 4r) and junior Gaby Hernandez-Paese (19, 4r). The addition of Jon Foley (22.29/49.01) adds individual scoring and should help the Blazers’ relays, potentially enough to challenge the two teams ranked ahead of them.
- FDU-Florham – The Devils took a big hit with the early loss of leading scorer Bohdan Semak (44 pts., 4 relays), who scored more than two-thirds of the team’s individual points. Eric Bang (17, 4r) returns after a strong freshman season, and Nicholas DiBenedetto (2, 3r) also scored, but that’s it. Seven newcomers join the team, but none has evident immediate scoring potential coming in.
- Lebanon Valley – LVC graduated one of the program’s all-time greats in 200 IM champ Ian Lloyd (53 pts., 4 relays) and also graduated their only other individual scorer in Chris Kurtz (15, 4r). According to CollegeSwimming.com, they had just four swimmers on this year’s roster with no freshmen. At the very least, they will be able to compose relays.
- Stevenson – The Mustangs had only three athletes on last year’s roster, and Zachery Cather (21 pts.), the team’s lone scorer, graduated. This year, they still only have three athletes and zero freshman, but the team does get Stephen Kratzer (1:48.54 200, 53.30 FL) after missing last year, and he should be capable of keeping Stevenson on the board.
Projected Award Winners:
- Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Cassie Cotton, Messiah
- Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Angelina Franceschini, Widener
- Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Aaron Green, Widener
- Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Joseph Giuliano, Albright