The Canisius College swimming and diving teams got off to a fast start at day one of the MAAC Championships, winning the first two individual events – the men’s and women’s 500-yard freestyles – en route to both squads ending the day in third position.
“It feels pretty good to have some of our highest point totals ever on the first day,” said head coach Scott Vanderzell. “You always like to be closer on day one, but it is what it is and we’ve got to battle. We’ve got a few races that we need to take care of in the morning, and if we do that we should be right in the mix.”
After opening the meet with a second-place finish in the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay, junior Marissa Oakey kept the momentum going for the Griffs, as she took first in the 500. Oakey broke her own school record with a time of 4:57.64.
Oakey got off to a fast start and led for nearly the entire event, holding off Marist’s Bonnie Orr.
“I tried to just think about my own race and what I wanted to do, which was go under five minutes,” Oakey said. “It was nice to see that I could go that fast and do that well and I felt great the entire time so it was exciting. At the end, I knew [Orr] was coming, and I know she saw me. My legs were just numb and I had nothing left, but I had started so fast that I couldn’t let up at the end.”
Sophomore Spencer Bray picked up right where Oakey left off, taking first in the men’s 500 in similar fashion. Bray built himself a lead right before the halfway point of the race and held off Marist’s Ryan Murphy on his way to a school-record time of 4:30.07. Senior Corey Petrie would finish seventh in the event.
“The 500 was definitely what I was most nervous for,” Bray said. “I’m happy it’s over and done with and I’m looking forward to the 1000 and the mile. As a team we’re happy with where we’re at and ready to go tomorrow.”
In addition to Oakey, the Canisius women saw points put up in the 50-yard freestyle by freshman Hannah Graesser (third), senior Kelli Graber (8th) and sophomore Alicia Wheeler (t-15th). Graesser set a new program best time of 23.58 in the prelims and finished just off that pace (23.69) in the finals.
Canisius also saw success in the women’s 3-meter dive, with sophomore Audrey Mulhisen taking second place and junior Taylor Epstein placing seventh.
Sophomore Clare Battaglia would finish fifth in the lone other individual event of the night – the 200-IM. Battaglia would put up a time of 2:09.01 in the event.
On the men’s side of things, two Griffs advanced to the finals in the 1-meter dive, with freshman Adam Bonk (273.80) finishing fourth and junior Eddie Quarantillo (271.40) right behind in fifth.
Freshman Matt Tanchick broke the program record in the men’s 200-IM during a ninth place finish. Tanchick put up a school best 1:53.18.
Marist currently leads for both the men (185) and women (196) with Canisius right behind in both, holding 144.5 points on the women’s side and 116 on the men’s.
Action will resume Friday at 10 a.m.