PREVIEW: Old Dominion Athletic Conference

It should be an interesting season once again in the ODAC, though the great interest won’t be at the top of the ranks where we expect Washington & Lee to roll to both titles once again. The race for second, however, between Randolph-Macon and up-and-coming Roanoke, should be very interesting on both sides, and the order of the teams in the bottom half of both races could come down to who has the better relay finishes.

Here are our projected standings with previews:

ODAC WOMEN:

  1. Washington & Lee – The Generals dominated the ODAC in 2017-18, and that’s not going to change in the slightest in 2018-19. Eleven of the top 12 individual scorers at the ODAC Championships were from WLU, and all 18 Generals scored 37 points or more at the league meet. Only two of those 18 scorers graduated in Cassidy Fuller (47 pts., 2 relays, 3 HMAA relays) and Mara Tynan (40). Returning among the Generals’ abundance of riches is 2018 ODAC Swimmer of the Meet Emily Hageboeck (60, 2r, 2IM/1BR/2BR champ), a First Team All-American in the 200 Breast (7th) and Honorable Mention in the 100 Breast and 200 Medley Relay. Ali MacQueen (54, 4r, 1FL champ) was the lone other WLU swimmer to garner individual All-America honors with an HM honor in the 100 Fly (also earned HMAA on three relays), while Elle Chancey (60, 4r, 50/100/200 champ, 4 HMAA), Kelly Amar (54, 1r, 2FL champ, 2 HMAA), Ashley Johnston (49, 2r, 1 HMAA), Caroline Florence (41, 1r, 1HMAA), and Tori Hester (37, 1r, 1 HMAA) all also earned HM All-America honors on General relays. Along with All those All-Americans, WLU also returns Taylor Ecleberry (52, 1r, 4IM champ) and ODAC Rookie of the Meet Mattie Grant (51, 500/1650 champ) and gets 2017 ODAC 2FL champ Laura Bruce back after missing 17-18. All seven newcomers could score 40+ points right away but will be fighting each other and teammates for scoring roster spots. Caroline Baber (23.94/52.59/1:53.47, 1:00.87/2:12.8 BA, 1:04.3/2:21.4 BR, 57.69 FL, 2:04.6/4:25.8 IM) is the best of the crop on paper and could win multiple conference titles, while Claudia Barnett (24.24/52.19/1:58/5:38, 1:08/2:27.9 BR, 1:00.4 FL, 2:12.6/4:53 IM), Turner Bobbitt (24.8/53.1/1:56.7/5:18.2, 57.67/2:07.1 BA, 57.99/2:14.9 FL, 2:10.9/4:41.5 IM), Elle Boyd (25.17/52.67/1:57.2, 58.29 BA, 59.67 FL), Erika Ehret (25.84/54.42/1:59.1/5:24.9, 1:09.9/2:31.4 BR, 1:00.2/2:10.5 FL, 2:12.5/4:39 IM), and Anna Jamieson (24.62/53.68/1:59.57, 58.1/2:05.8 BA, 1:00 FL, 2:11.7 IM) all add unmatched depth.
  2. Randolph-Macon – The distance behind Washington & Lee is vast. We’re keeping Randolph-Macon in the #2-slot once again this year but expect the Yellow Jackets to be challenged by the team immediately below them on this list. RMC does return 10 of its top 11 scorers from the 2018 ODACs. Natalia Perdomo (45, 2r) leads the way after a great freshman season while senior Kata Kyllainen (42, 4r), Kacey Pool (42, 3r), Haylie Moore (35, 1r), and Laney Sanchez (35) are also among the team’s top returners. The Yellow Jackets’ recruiting class is deep but doesn’t have any top-end talent on paper. Look for Becca Lazerson (26.19/57.27/2:04.38, 1:08.8/2:33.6 BR, 1:07.19 FL, 2:17.1 IM), Emma Kate Russell (26.16/57.8, 1:08.34 BA, 1:01.5/2:26 FL), and Jordan Shearer (26.49/57.19/2:04.4, 1:05.2/2:26.6 BA, 1:00.9 FL, 2:17 IM) to make the most immediate impacts.
  3. Roanoke – Coach Scott Thacker has this second-year program continuing in the right direction, as the Maroons have the league’s deepest crop of freshman coming alongside a strong group of returners – something that the Maroons couldn’t say a year ago during their inaugural season. ODAC 100 Back champ Reilly Bird (50, 4r) leads the way after an outstanding freshman season while Francisca Cifuentes (26, 4r), Hannah Sells (25, 3r), Sarah Virginia Scott (24, 3r), and Margaret Riggan (9, 1r) all return after gaining invaluable experience a year ago. Maria Vinson (55.9/1:57/5:09.2/17:45, 1;04/2:11.8 BA, 1:02/2:13.8 FL, 2:10.5/4:34.5 IM) is the cream of a 13-woman crop of freshmen, while Izzy Mack (58.48/2:02.2/5:16/18:11, 1:03.5/2:14.8 BA, 2:17.8/4:49 IM) and Hannah Petty (25.08/53.9/1:56.3/5:11.6, 1:01.4/2:14 BA, 1:12/2:36 BR, 59.66 FL, 2:13.5/4:44 IM) give RC a top-tier trio of newcomers. Hadley Baker (27.4/58.5/2:06.1, 1:02.8/2:13.8 BA), Grace Fountain (26.35/56.25/2:00.4/5:23, 1:05.9/2:17.4 BA), and Caylyn McNaul (26.17/57.04/2:08.3, 1:09.9/2:31.8 BR) are a great second-tier among the freshman class, while several others are already capable of scoring, as well. The difference between RMC and RC could be close enough to come down to which team scores more points in relays.
  4. Bridgewater – The dropoff from the top three to Bridgewater in fourth might be close to as big as the margin from first to second, but the Eagles should find themselves as the team solidly in fourth place. They return their top four scorers in Kelley Hilliker (43, 4r), Emma Daw (39, 4r), Rachael King (31, 2r), and Genevieve Young. Among their seven newcomers, Zoe Moore (25.85/56.80/2:02.3/5:15.5/18:19, 1:07.98/2:25 BR, 2:16.8/4:49 IM) is top flight, and Jessica Touve (57.65/2:06.1, 1:10.3 BA, 2:45.8 BR, 1:04.3/2:24.7 FL, 5:04.5 IM) should be able to score significant points, too.
  5. Emory & Henry – Emory & Henry lost more than any team in the ODAC but still should have just enough to hold onto fifth. Four of the Wasps top five scorers graduated in Bri Chessock (43, 4r), Holly Roth (35, 2r), Mackenzie Lingle (30, 4r), and Kelsey Jones (22, 2r). Olivia Anson (42, 4r) and Savannah Scarbrough (20, 1r) are the team’s only returning scorers as their other two returners didn’t compete at ODACs a year ago. All three recruits should be able to contribute, with Anne-Louise Tunstall (26.91/56.7/2:04/5:29, 1:12.1/2:34 BR, 1:03.4 FL, 2:17.8 IM) the best of the three.
  6. Hollins – Hollins remains in sixth in our rankings primarily based on the returns of Hanna DeVarona (22, 4r), who is coming off a strong freshman season, and senior Maya Schattgen (17, 4r). Having Emily Miehlke (3, 4r) and Molly Sullivan (2) back also give the Green and Gold bigger relay potential than many of the teams below them, in spite of the fact that their three newcomers are unproven thus far.
  7. Sweet Briar – The Vixens return three of their top four scorers, including Sarah Ahson (18, 4r) – the top of just three double-digit returners in the bottom half of our rankings. Theresa Carriveau, Lauren Graham, and Dharma Kear also return for Sweet Briar, and all four of those ladies will look to build off experience gained as freshmen. None of the team’s six recruits are proven, but Bailey Jones (27.55 50) should make the biggest impact on relays.
  8. Virginia Wesleyan – VWU didn’t score a single individual point a year ago, but they do return 16 of their 20 relay swims. Four of their five relays finished ninth a year ago, so the Marlins will be the biggest benefactor of Greensboro’s inability to compose relays (see more below). Sarah Conley (25.92/58.66) is a big addition for VWU, as she has individual scoring ability and will also improve the team’s relays.
  9. Randolph – Randolph also didn’t score a single individual point at the 2018 ODAC meet and returns only two swimmers in Golden Dennison (4r) and Leah Dorman. Brice Creel (25.51/56.25/2:03.3, 1:05.2 FL, 2:20.5/5:34 IM) will be a huge boost for the Wildcats, but they will need some of their other freshmen to develop to have a chance of rising higher and to assure that they hold off the teams below.
  10. Ferrum – Ferrum has just two returners in Katie Shoaf (11, 4r) and Courtney Moyer (1, 4r), so the Panthers will be heavily reliant upon freshmen this season. Hunter Tharpe (1:09.5 FL) is the best of the five newcomers on paper, but the ability of the rest of those newcomers to develop will tell the story for Ferrum.
  11. Guilford – Carolyn O’Halloran (13, 2r) is back, and Courtney Packer (0, 1r) also returns, but the real reason that we have the Quakers above Greensboro is roster size. With six newcomers, they have the ability to compose relays, and any relays score more points than no relays. The team’s six newcomers are raw at this point.
  12. Greensboro – As we write this, Greensboro has just three swimmers on their roster, which, as you know, means no relays. Lauren Spencer (18 pts., 4r) is back after a solid freshman season, but neither other returner scored and Spencer can’t possibly outscore even four relays. If the Pride could perhaps pickup a mid-season addition from among their student body, they could move up one or even two spots.

ODAC MEN:

  1. Washington & Lee – Unlike in the women’s race, the Washington & Lee men should face a little more pressure than they did in their nearly 400-point victory at last year’s ODAC Championships, but their margin should still be fairly comfortable – somewhere in the 150-200 point range. At the top, they lose two-time ODAC Swimmer of the Meet and 15-time All-American Tommy Thetford (57, 3r), who as a First Team AA in the 50 and HMAA in the 100 and three relays in 2018. Relay HM All-Americans Corey Connelly (48, 4r) and Evan Kramer (41, 2r) are also gone, as are Ethan Fischer (49, 2r, 1BR/2BR champ), Thomas Caldwell (48, 1r), Noah Schammel (45, 2r, 1FL champ), and Wade Patterson (43). That said, the Generals do return a pair of individual conference champs in Jared Nickodem (55, 200/400 IM champ) and 2018 ODAC Rookie of the Meet Patrick Sullivan (54, 3r, 200 champ), an individual HMAA in the 200 free and 3x HMAA on General relays. Danny Lynch (50, 1r) and Fritz Rawls (48) will also look to build off tremendous freshman seasons, and Ben Brown (48), Brian Legarth (45, 1r), Patrick Lawrence (44), Sam Childress (42), and Jonathan Tucker (34) all earned top-three finishes at the league meet a year ago. The Generals have several swimmers among their returners who didn’t make last year’s conference roster who are capable of filling some of their losses, which is key with a smaller freshman class this year. Jack Donahue (49.27/1:45.68, 1:00.6/2:11.3 BR, 52.86/1:55.76 FL, 1:56.8/4:08.2 IM), Jackson Mathis (21.52/48.07, 53.77 FL), and Steve Warren (50.59 100, 56.73/2:03.77 BR, 2:05.61 IM) are the most ready of the five newcomers to make major impacts.
  2. Randolph-Macon – Also much like in the women’s race, we currently have Randolph-Macon second but wouldn’t be surprised to see Roanoke behind them give them a serious challenge for second. While they lost three key scorers in Ivan Fadeyev (51), Ealon Mann (41, 4r), and Alex Daube (30, 3r), the Yellow Jackets do return a pair of ODAC champs in Victor Kontopanos (54, 4r, 2FL champ) and Jordan Witherow (54, 2r, 500/1650 champ). RMC also has a very strong recruiting class, highlighted by potential conference champs Wyatt Boyer (22.43/47.52/1:42.1/4:38/16:27, 59.79/2:08 BR, 1:55.2/4:05.9 IM) and Joe Stephens (22.39/49.5/1:50.7/5:08.9, 52.36/1:55.3 BA, 1:04 BR, 2:01.8/4:30.9 IM). Justin Gregory (1:51.4/5:00.6/17:26, 57.5/2:05 BA, 2:07 FL, 2:08.6/4:31 IM), Shane Morison (22.48/48.74/1:46.3/4:58.8/17:47, 1:01.4/2:14 BR, 53.69 FL, 2:00.5/4:24 IM), and Matthew Parisi (1:51.3/5:04/17:15, 2:01.6 BA, 1:06.4 BR, 2:04.7/4:18.8 IM) all should be able to score major points, too.
  3. Roanoke – The Roanoke men also continue their rapid ascension up the ODAC ranks in their second year as a program, and the Maroons strength is more in their depth than their top-end talent. Top-three scorers Nick McGrath (33, 4r), Jacob David (31, 2r), and Ethan Gordon (31, 4r) all return, and all 12 freshmen are capable of scoring, with as many as nine having the potential to score 30+ points. Connor Kinkema (49.55/1:49.6/5:00.6, 58.6/2:15.5 BA, 59.7/2:06.3 BR, 2:00.3/4:23 IM), Sutton Schonfelder (1:01/2:13 BR, 53.8/1:57.6 FL, 2:00.4/4:23.4 IM), Ben Tate (48.6/1:46.2/4:48, 56.7/2:09.4 BA, 53.1/1:56.4 FL, 2:00.2/4:16.6 IM), and Jack Vaughn (1:51.2/4:56.5, 1:00.8/2:14.3 BR, 55.7/2:02.7 FL, 2:02.3/4:22.9 IM) have the slight edge on paper of such an incredibly deep crew while Parker Devillier (21.83/47.77) may have the biggest relay-impact potential.
  4. Hampden-Sydney – Hampden-Sydney’s slip to fourth says more about Roanoke than it does about HSC, as the Tigers might actually be a stronger program than they were a year ago. They return their top five of their top six scorers in Hudson Elmore (36, 2r), Zach Stephan (34, 4r), Jack Dickerson (29, 2r), AJ Howard (27, 4r), and Anthony Vinson (23, 2r). Woody Parsons (22.56/48.79/1:43.85/4:42.9/16:58, 52.11/1:55.5 FL, 2:01.3/4:30 IM) is a huge pickup, and Jason Covaney (49.57/1:52.3, 59.45 BA, 55.43 FL, 2:08.4 IM) should help immediately, too.
  5. Randolph – Randolph should improve enough this year to create a significant gap between the two halves of the ODAC this year, and they are trending in the right direction, as all four returning scorers were just freshmen a year ago. Oscar Onoszko (27, 4r), Jeffrey Oliveri (22, 4r), Daniel Bennett-Blake (16, 2r), an Andrew Scales (16, 4r) are all back, and their two best swimmers might be a pair of freshmen in Chris Verastek (21.74/46.93/1:47, 53.8/2:01.3 BA, 56.24/2:06 BR, 52.62 FL, 1:53.46/4:15 IM) and Mike Christou (21.65/48.79, 53.16/2:15.7 BA, 1:00.8 BR, 53.44 FL). The addition of those two should also allow the Wildcats to compose a strong fifth relay, something they couldn’t do last year, which will only increase that gap between them and the teams below.
  6. Emory & Henry – E&H loses its lone point scorer from last year’s ODACs in Wilson Naff (40), but they do bring in seven freshmen, all of whom are at least on the fringe of being able to score points, which should give the Wasps a leg up on the teams below them in terms of relays – and relays are really where the difference exists between these bottom five teams. Blake Madaris (1:55.3/5:09, 58.7/2:03.68 BA, 2:12.6 FL, 2:13 IM) is the clear best of the crop, while Braxton Justice (22.53/53.68) and Mack Henningsen (52.68/1:53.45/5:16.27) should impact relays.
  7. Bridgewater – Bridgewater returns a pair of scorers in Tito Alcazar (15, 4r) and Jarratt Davis (4, 4r), and the addition of Austin Bacon (1:53/5:05 FR, 1:00.5/2:10.7 BA, 2:30 BR, 56.1/2:04.5 FL, 2:05/4:35.8 IM) and Kevin Whalen (22.33/50.12, 1:02.44 BA, 57.55 FL) give the Eagles a strong core.
  8. Ferrum – Taylor Darnell (32, 4r) is the big difference that keeps Ferrum above VWU on this list, while the return of Jacob Blaukovitch (9, 4r) also helps. The addition of one freshman means that Ferrum can compose five relays if it chooses.
  9. Virginia Wesleyan – VWU returns just four individual points from a year ago from Patrick McKneely (2, 2r), Matthew Bavuso (1, 2r), and Kyle Woolf (1, 4r). Tyler Strong (57.05 BA, 2:11.4 IM) is the biggest addition among the five freshmen, but, if others can drop some time, they could challenge the teams ahead of them.
  10. Greensboro – The Greensboro men are in the same unfortunate place that their women are in that they only have three swimmers on their roster, meaning they can’t copose relays at this point. Anis Yahi (37, 4r) and Matt Rogers (16, 4r) are two of the top returners on the bottom half of these rankings, and freshman Ethan Wilson (1:02.30 BA) is a fringe scorer, but without a fourth swimmer, they have no hope of climbing out of this spot. That said, if they could find a fourth, these other three are decent enough to jump them several spots on this list.

Projected Award Winners:

  • Women’s Swimmer of the Year: Emily Hageboeck, Washington & Lee
  • Women’s Newcomer of the Year: Caroline Baber, Washington & Lee
  • Men’s Swimmer of the Year: Patrick Sullivan, Washington & Lee
  • Men’s Newcomer of the Year: Wyatt Boyer, Randolph-Macon