February 16, 2015

Several South Siders shine at conference championships

Chicago had a successful week at the four-day UAA Championships hosted by Emory, host to the top talent in one of the toughest conferences in the country. The men’s team finished second and the women’s squad placed third at the meet’s conclusion on Saturday.

On the men’s side, powerhouse Emory garnered its 17th conference title with 1,551 points, while Chicago came in second with 1,408 points. On the women’s side, Emory picked up its 23rd conference title with 2,076.5 points, while Chicago scored 1,184 points to come in third place.

At the end of day one, the Maroons led the standings as a result of stellar diving performances by fourth-year Matthew Staab (second place) and fourth-year Tony Restaino (third place) in the men’s one-meter. On day two, which marked the start of swimming competition, Emory rose to the top spot for both the men and the women, while the Maroon men dropped to second, and the women came in at third. These standings remained constant through the remainder of the meet.

Throughout the four days, the men and women won a combined three event titles and earned 21 all-conference finishes. The South Siders also made a whopping 52 additional NCAA “B” cut marks for the national meet, which will take place in mid-March.

Despite not reaching their goal to finish first over Emory, the men spoke very highly of their team’s effort and performance at the meet.

“As a team we came into this meet with the lofty goal of beating Emory,” said third-year Thomas Meek. “After prelims it wasn’t possible for us to beat Emory, but it didn’t get us down. We shifted our goal to fend off Wash U and NYU to secure runner up and to win the 4x100 freestyle relay. Although Emory won the meet, Chicago put up some of the fastest times of the year and demonstrated an unprecedented team atmosphere.”

The 400-yard free relay, as Meek mentioned, was the last event of the meet. Meek, along with second-year Jonathan Simoneau, second-year Jeremy Estes, and third-year Matthew Veldman, finished first in the event while shattering the previous UAA record by 2.11 seconds with a time of 2:59.94.

Individually, Meek had multiple highlights, placing second in the 100-yard freestyle, to break Chicago’s school record with a time of 44.90 seconds. He also broke the school record for the 50-yard freestyle in the prelims, going on to win second in the finals. In the 200-yard freestyle, he placed first, broke the school and conference records, and made the NCAA “B” cut mark.

Despite incredible success this weekend, Meek remains modest.

“I was pleased with how I did individually,” Meek said. “I almost hit all the goals I was shooting for.”

On the women’s side, highlights included second-year Alison Wall and first-year Khia Kurtenback finishing second and third, respectively, in the 200-yard backstroke with a close finish. Second-year Abby Erdmann finished second in the 200-yard butterfly.

The women divers found success as well, with first-year Natalie DeMuro placing fourth in the three-meter with a score of 384.50.

With the NCAA championships right around the corner, the teams also recognize that there are improvements to be made. Meek, for example, looks for his 400-yard relay team to improve.

“The NCAA group will be focusing on tightening up relay transitions,” Meek said. “The faster we can get off the block in the 200 relays the better. Also, since we had a long taper for UAAs , the Nationals team must increase the intensity of practices again for the next couple weeks so we can drop back into another taper and be ready to perform at our best.”

Chicago’s next meet is the two-day UChicago Midwest Invitational on February 20–21.