The Golden Rams men and women swimming teams each came out on top at the 2011 PSAC Championships on Sunday evening at Cumberland Valley High School. The men’s team gained the lead after day two, increased it by day three, and blew the competition out of the water by the conclusion of the Championships.
The win marks the men’s team’s 13th straight victory at the PSAC Championships, and now ties Edinboro with 24 overall victories at the Championships.
West Chester sat comfortably in the first place slot with 686 points collected overall. The next closest contender was Clarion who gathered 567 points earning them the second place spot. Edinboro came in third with 440 points, Shippensburg was fourth with 417.5 points, Bloomsburg was fifth with 379, Indiana (Pa.) was sixth with 365 and Gannon trailed in seventh with 350.5 points.
It was at the close of day three that West Chester made its presence known, pulling away from the second place Clarion by 66 points. The Golden Rams had earned 496 points after three days.
Senior Kenny McCormick earned his second conference title with an NCAA ‘B’ time, finishing the 100-yard breaststroke in 56.23 seconds. Bud McClernan placed fourth in the breaststroke behind McCormick with a time of 57.61.
McCormick’s anchor position in the 800 freestyle relay team contributed to a win in 6:52.32 for the swimmers Tommy Rhoads, Phil Letcavage and Brendan Magarity.
Magarity grabbed an NCAA ‘B’ time of 4:06.31, placing second in the 400 individual medley. Evan DeaKyne placed sixth in the event finishing in 4:14.39.
Calvin Starosta picked up a win in the 100 backstroke with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 50.57 seconds. Kevin Moyer was fourth in the backstroke, finishing in 51.87.
Phil Luzny finished third in the 100 butterfly with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 50.94; Letcavage trailed behind placing seventh with a time of 51.89.
Rhoads came in second in the 200 free with a ‘B’ time of 1:41.17.
On the final day of the Championships, McCormick made his mark on the PSAC’s when he defended his conference title in the 200-yard butterfly, completing the race in 1:50.46. The win marked his third 2011 PSAC individual title and his seventh over his three-year career at West Chester.
Bud McClernan set a PSAC meet record in the 200 breaststroke, touching the wall in 2:04:64.
Brendan Magarity continued the intensity, coming in first in the 200 backstroke in 1:50.79.
The 2011 Championships concluded with a climactic win from West Chester’s 400 relay team composed of Rhodes, McCormick, Josh Pauley and Ryan Stahley. The four finished the race in 3:04.03.
Sophomore Tommy Rhodes was a standout star for West Chester, but his success did not compare to the consistently remarkable athletic performances exhibited by senior Kenny McCormick.
McCormick was named Swimmer of the Meet for the second year in a row. Overall, he won a pair of individual titles and contributed to three relay wins. His athleticism contributed to the victory, as he was associated with 160 West Chester points.
Coach Jamie Rudisill commented on McCormick, who started his career in Division I at Penn State, “[McCormick] clearly has thrived at the Division II level.” Rudisill added that McCormick has likely improved more at West Chester than he could have at a Division I school.
“He’s risen to the top of this level for sure. The next step is going onto nationals, and hopefully he’ll get in the top eight on a few events and finish his career on a really good note.”
The women exhibited equally impressive performances, accumulating a total of 630 points over the four-day span granting them first place.
At the close of the Championships, Clarion placed second with 510 points and California (Pa.) earned 341 points for third place. Indiana (Pa.) collected 340 placing fourth, Shippensburg was fifth with 321, Gannon finished sixth with 314, Edinsboro seventh with 289, Kutztown eighth with 263, Bloomsburg ninth with 244, Lock Haven 10th with 190, Millersville 11th was 77, East Stroudsburg 12th with 71 and Mansfield 13th with 46.
The win marks the women’s fifth straight PSAC title and ninth in the last 11 years. West Chester is still second to Clarion for overall wins; Clarion has accumulated 24 team titles.
“The women have a pretty good group going,” Rudisill commented. “We came into this meet as the first seed in only four events.We had everyone on the women’s team score at least a few points and that’s what it’s all about.”
West Chester’s closest competitor trailed by 69 points by the close of day three, giving the Rams plenty of room to breathe.
Amelia Buckley won her first individual conference title in the 100-yard breaststroke with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 1:04.84.
Jillian Murphy came in second in the 100 backstroke finishing 57.11 seconds.
The 800 freestyle relay also came in second with a time of 7:34.46, which automatically qualifies Mia Barone, Erin Fischer, Megan Bauer and Kristen Montello to head to the NCAAs next month.
Fischer also placed third in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.24. Leah Varvo placed fifth and Jillian Murphy placed seventh in the same event. Barone also placed third in the 200 free, finishing in 1:54.10. Bauer was close behind in the sixth place slot.
WCU racked up 43 points in the 100 back alone, grabbing three of the Top 8 finishes. Megan Winslow placed fourth in the event finishing in 57.54, while Jess Healy placed eighth.
Kaci McNichol came in third in the 400 individual medley finishing in 4:31.37. Dani Scott trailed behind her in sixth place (4:35.74).
The 200 medley relay team made up of Winslow, Buckley, Murphy and Bauer came in third with a time of 1:45.16.
After triumphing over the Championships, the Golden Rams’ next challenge will be presented at Nationals. The team will enter nationals with the support and confidence of their coach.
“This particular group was exceptionally hard-working this year,” Rudisill commented. “The work they put in this year should serve them well for nationals.”
Nationals will take place in San Antonio, Texas from March 9 to March 12.
Brynn Dougherty is a third-year student at West Chester University. She can be reached at BD670913@wcupa.edu.