Oct. 4, 2007
LEWISBURG, Pa. -
The Bucknell men's swimming and diving squad will begin the 2007-08 season this Saturday as the Bison will play host to UMBC. The dual meet is slated to begin at 1 p.m. in Kinney Natatorium.
Coming off a successful 2006-07 season that saw five school records fall and culminated with a third-place finish at the Patriot League Championships, Bucknell swimming and diving head coach Dan Schinnerer believes the Bison have great potential heading into the 2007-08 campaign.
"We're looking to continue to move up the ladder at the league meet and close the gap or move in front of the teams that finished ahead of us," said Schinnerer. "We have a fairly veteran group, a group that's been together for a good amount of time, so I think that makes for very strong team chemistry. I know as a whole the team members have some pretty high goals for themselves and are motivated as a unit for this upcoming season."
Bucknell returns a strong group of sprint freestylers, headed-up by junior Mark Kawczenski and seniors Grant Steadman and John Peterman. Steadman was a finalist in both the 50- and 100-yard free at the Patriot League Championships, posting career-best times. Kawczenski was a finalist in the 50 free, where he finished sixth with the seventh-best time in program history (20.96), and made the consolation finals in the 100. Peterman qualified for the finals in the 100 free, placing sixth, and was a consolation finalist in the 50. Senior Bradford Bennett scored in the 50 last season as well (16th).
"For this group it will be quest to try and continue to improve and move further up in the scoring," explained Schinnerer.
Schinnerer expects sophomore Dan Fletcher to begin playing a larger role in the100 free, as well, and has seen sophomore Ben Leboza
, a middle-distance freestyler, show strength and development in the 100.
Schinnerer sees Leboza and junior Chris Amato as two of the team's top returnees in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Both rank among the program's top-10 in those events and scored at the 2007 league meet.
"This is an area where we saw a lot of good things last year," commented Schinnerer. "We had five guys in the 200 free consolation final at the 2007 championships, which is a great example of what we can build on. If we can get more of those guys into the finals, it would make a dramatic point difference for us. Those are the type of things we need to do to close the gap on Army and Navy."
Schinnerer notes that Peterman also has the ability to stretch up to the 200 from the sprint group and sees Fletcher, sophomore Luke Trafton and junior Patrick Stummer as other potential contributors in the 200.
In the 500 free, the Bison return Trafton, who was the Patriot League runner-up and holds the school record in the event. Among Bucknell's four consolation finalists in the 500 last season were Leboza, senior Joseph Metcalf, Amato and Stummer. "Leboza had a really good summer of training this year and that should translate well for him in his sophomore season," Schinnerer explained.
Trafton captured the Patriot League title in the 1,650 free at the 2007 championship meet, setting school records in the 1,000 and 1,650 free and is expected to lead the distance corps for the Orange and Blue again in 2007-08. Stummer and Leboza, who finished in the top-eight at the league meet last season, fourth and eighth, respectively, should continue to improve and provide points for the Bison. Also adding depth for the Orange and Blue will be senior Tyler Sowell and junior Jeffrey Ayres.
In the backstroke events, Bucknell returns the 100 school record holder and 2007 Patriot League champion in Kawczenski, who posted a time of 49.90 for his first-place finish. In addition, sophomore David Iselin scored in the 100 and 200 back at last season's league meet, taking seventh in the 200 and 12th in the 100. His time in the 200 back placed him 10th on the program's all-time list. Senior Matthew McGraw was a consolation final in the 200 back last season as well. Schinnerer will also look to freshman Gonzalo DeLeon to contribute in the backstroke.
"I think he is someone who has the potential to be a real impact guy for us," said Schinnerer, "especially in the 200 back."
Sophomore Spencer Hallowell gives the Bison another option in this area as well.
Breaststroke is arguably one of deepest event groups for the Bison as the squad returns Metcalf, Bennett and junior Michael Deighan, who were all finalists in at least one breaststroke event at the Patriot League Championships in 2007. All three set new career bests in the 100, re-writing the program's top-10 list. Bennett took third, while Metcalf was fifth and Deighan won the consolation final for a ninth-place finish. In the 200 breast, Metcalf finished third, Deighan was fifth with a new Bucknell top-10 mark and Bennett was the top finisher in the consolation final.
"I think we are well-balanced across the board in all of our events, but I think breaststroke is definitely one of our strengths," commented Schinnerer.
Providing additional depth will be sophomore Brett Carey, who scored in both breastroke events at the league meet as a freshman (11th in the 200, 13th in the 100) and sophomore Ben Bible.
In the butterfly events, Schinnerer will look to a pair of newcomers after losing perennial Patriot League scorer Matt Crandell to graduation. Steadman returns for the Bison in the 100 following a sixth-place showing at the league meet in 2007 and freshmen Michael Volpe and Brendan Wills will lead the way in the 200 fly, while also bolstering the team's depth in the 100.
Schinnerer sees the IM as an area where individuals will need to continue to develop and step up in as he looks ahead to the 2007-08 campaign. Fletcher, Carey and Deighan all reached the consolation finals in the 200 at the Patriot League Championships last season and Schinnerer feels they all have the ability to improve upon those performances.
In the 400 IM, Trafton narrowly missed the school record and went on to take fifth at the league meet. Senior Theo Leriotis was a scorer for the Bison in the event as well and Schinnerer expects he will be a factor for the squad again this season.
Junior Jeffery Manning is Bucknell's top returning diver as he ranks second in program history in both one-meter, six optionals and three-meter, six optionals. He was a finalist in the three-meter at the league championships last year as well, taking sixth in the event. Junior Steven Schmaltz and sophomore Matt Traver return for the Bison, while the squad will also welcome freshman Andrew Vogl to the fold.
The entire school-record setting 2007 Patriot League champion 200 medley relay squad of Kawczenski, Bennett, Steadman and Peterman remains intact for the Orange and Blue in 2007-08 and Schinnerer expects a variation of that group will be the core of Bucknell's 400 medley relay and is excited about the team's potential in both of those relays.
In the freestyle relays, Schinnerer believes the Bison have good depth, but will need to continue to develop some of their top performers to try and get closer to Bucknell's records in those events.