Following a three-week layoff from competition, the Canisius College swimming and diving teams will compete in the MAAC Championships on Thursday, Feb. 13 through Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Burt Flickinger Center on the campus of Erie Community College.
The Griffs, who are seeking their first conference title in program history, have a number of highly seeded swimmers in multiple events. The men are looking to improve on a third place finish last year, with the women looking to place higher than last season’s program-best fourth place finish.
"The preparation has been really good,” said head coach Scott Vanderzell. Everyone has been very focused, real solid in everything that they’ve been doing, so I’m pretty pleased with where we’re at right now.”
The men will be led by sophomore Spencer Bray, who will carry a heavy workload for the Griffs – qualifying in the 200, 500, 1000 and 1650-yard freestyles as well as the 200-yard backstroke. Bray is seeded no lower than ninth in any of the five events.
“Last year I went in and I was really nervous,” Bray said. “This year I’m coming in with more confidence, so hopefully with that confidence boost I can help the team to more points on the board and hopefully a MAAC Championship.”
In addition to Bray, the Griffs will look to get points from freshman Wyatt Sintay. Swimming in the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes and 200 and 400-yard IMs, Sintay is seeded in the top-seven of three different events.
“I’m really expecting a lot from myself to go out and compete,” Sintay said. “I’m very excited to go out and race people that I don’t really know and see what everyone else can do as well.”
Besides Bray and Sintay, the Griffs have seven other swimmers seeded in the top-10 of their respective events. Freshman Matt Tanchick is seeded third in the 200-yard IM and seventh in the 200-yard butterfly, while junior Nick Sereday holds the eighth position in the 50-yard freestyle.
Four of the top-10 seeds in the 1000-yard freestyle belong to Canisius, behind Bray at second is senior Corey Petrie (eighth), junior Sean Wurster (ninth) and junior Sam Hansen (10th). Hansen also holds the nine seed in the 1650-yard freestyle. In addition, freshman Jerry Daigler earned the 10 seed in the 200-yard backstroke.
The Canisius men will also feature the largest cast of divers of any school in the conference, with six divers – including junior Eddie Quarantillo who earned MAAC Diver of the Week on four occasions this year – competing on both boards.
The heaviest load on the women’s side will be sophomore Alex Doody, who qualified in seven different events. Doody can compete in the 200 and 400-yard IMs, 200, 500 and 1000-yard freestyles, and 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes.
In addition to Doody, the women have a number of highly seeded swimmers as well, with freshman Hannah Graesser leading the way, being seeded in the top-nine in the 50 and 100-yard freestyles and 200-yard IM. Graesser also qualified in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke. Senior Kelli Graber will also be a the front of the pack in the sprint freestyles with Graesser, coming into the 50-yard freestyle seeded eighth.
Sophomore Clare Battglia will be carrying high expectations for Canisius as well, competing in the 100 and 200-yard backstrokes and 200-yard IM for the Griffs this year
“The excitement has really grown over the past couple weeks,” Battaglia said. "I think at first it seemed so far away, but now it’s here and everyone is just ready and excited to race, which I think is the best place that we could be,”
Junior Marissa Oakey is the Griffs top-qualifier in the distance freestyle events, swimming the 200, 500, 1000, and 1650, being seeded no lower than 12th in any event.
Sophomore Alicia Wheeler is also a top-10 qualifier for Canisius, seeded in both butterflys and freshman Marissa Watroba earned a top-10 spot in both breaststrokes. Senior Anna Schena rounds out the Griffs in the top-10 of preliminary seeding with the sixth spot in the 200-yard butterfly.
“Each year our team has done so well and everyone has dropped so much time,” Schena said. So I think the important thing is to go in and know that you’re going to do that well, and when you go in with that confidence we just make it happen.”
Action is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. on Thursday.