February 18, 2013

Men’s and women’s squads finish in top three at UAA Championships

The Maroons rode their home field–advantage to their best performance of the year this past week. Fortunately for them, that performance came during UAAs—their biggest meet yet.

On the women’s side, the Maroons achieved a second place finish behind an unyielding Emory with a total of 1,435 points. On the men’s side, the South Siders tallied 1,230.5 points to finish at a solid third place behind Emory and Carnegie Mellon.

Both the men’s and women’s teams accumulated the largest point totals for the Maroons in a UAA Conference meet. Though the men’s team had hoped for a second-place finish, they were still pleased with the outcome of the meet.

“We have absolutely no reason to be disappointed with our finish,” fourth-year captain Denver Barrows said. “It was the best conference meet in the history of UChicago.”

The Maroons remained in the top three teams throughout the meet, but while the women held second, the men’s team fell to third as Carnegie Mellon had a strong final push on the last day.

“Our team performed really well,” head coach Jason Weber said. “It’s hard to not be happy with those results, and Carnegie Mellon just had a little more depth than we did this year.”

The women’s team could not have hoped for more. This competition showcased many strong swimmers, and brought the Maroons even closer to the consistently strong conference champions from Emory.

“The women’s team was very pleased with their second place finish,” fourth-year Julie Pendleton said. “It was the most points we have ever scored at a UAA meet, and we cut the distance between us and Emory in half from last year. It was our best UAA performance in team history, and we could not be happier.”

Hosting this meet gave the Maroons a competitive edge and a thirst to defend their home waters. The South Siders felt strongly about hosting such an important meet.

“On the first day, we said that we wanted to own the pool,” Barrows said. “Being at home was a huge source of motivation for us and we wanted to show the rest of our conference what it meant to be in Chicago. It is an honor to represent Chicago in general, but to do it at home pushed our team to another level.”

The four-day meet kicked off last Wednesday and started off strong on the diving side. Second-year Matthew Staab won UAA titles in both the one-meter dive and the three-meter dive, with fourth-year Becky Schmidt finishing first in the one-meter dive and second in the three-meter dive.

Many other individuals had strong swims that will carry them into the postseason, and will represent Chicago at the NCAA DIII National Championships. Veteran third-year Eric Hallman took first in both the 200 IM and 200 freestyle, while first-year James Taylor finished second in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. First-year Ciara Hu got second in the 400 IM and third in the 200 IM.

“We are expecting about 12 to 15 swimmers and divers to be moving on to the national meet,” fourth-year Tatum Stewart said. “Our swim team has become one of the top 15 teams in DIII swimming, and the meet will be our chance to shine on a national level.”

At the conclusion of the meet, the coaches were also recognized. Weber and his staff were named Coaching Staff of the Year, and diving coach Kendra Melnychuk earned the Diving Coach of the Year award.

Though the season is over for most of the swimmers, those who qualified for Nationals will continue to taper and prepare to compete. Those who did not get a chance to compete at UAAs will be featured in the Midwest Invitational. The Maroons will host the Invitational at the Myers-McLoraine pool this Friday at 6 p.m.