By Andrea Garcia
Last one, fast one. This mentality filled the Colonel B. Messmore Aquatic Center last Saturday, even overpowering the scent of chlorine as Fordham Swimming and Diving hosted the UMass Minutemen for the last home meet of the season.
“UMass is a conference meet, so it should show some indication of how conferences will go. I am also very sad, but excited to be honoring our seniors,” said junior Erin McBride.
Earlier in the week, the Rams travelled up the Bronx River Parkway for one last away meet against the Iona Gaels. Due to Iona’s lack of divers, Fordham did not disappoint with a healthy competition between teammates. Junior diver Wendy Espina-Esquivel took first place in the 1m dive with a score of 279.45; however, she took a seat to first place freshman Stephanie Kerkeles in the 3m dive. Stephanie stuck a score of 267.45. Sophomore Christopher Craig had the boards to himself, falling automatically into first place in the 1m and 3m dives with scores of 211.05 and 258.45, respectively.
The Rams not only shut out the diving scoreboards, but also swept the competition in the racing events. The women’s team won the meet, 165-60 with a sweeping of individual wins across the event listings. Junior freestyle swimmer, Erin McBride, took care of her competitors in the 200-yd and 100-yd events, winning at times of 1:55.03 and 53.89, respectively. In the distance swims, freshman Chloe Mitchell fought for her wins in the 500-yd freestyle, clocking in at 5:15.96 and securing her first place finish of 10:43.59 in the 1000-yd event by open water. The men took care of business and doubled Iona’s score, 144-78. Junior Liam Semple had a particularly strong performance in the 200- and 100-yd freestyle events, winning with 1:43.75 and 48.47 finishes.
In relay action, the women made their mark as the quartet of senior Morgan Fairclough, freshman Mia Bullock, senior Megan Polaha and sophomore Tara Brunner won the 400-yd medley relay. Each member pulling their own weight, they were the only team to break the four minute mark, just squeezing in at 3:59.44. The men’s 400-yd medley relay team of sophomore Isiah Magsino, sophomore Travis Monahan, senior Joseph Mercurio and anchor freshman Joseph Vizza was the only one to break the 3:30 checkpoint with a time of 3:27.18. The combined efforts of Monahan, Mercurio, freshman Kevin Barry and Vizza finished off the day for the Rams in the 200-yd freestyle relay, bringing home a winning time of 1:25.37.
Returning home for the weekend, the Rams paid tribute to 11 Fordham seniors during the final home meet against Atlantic 10 rivals, the University of Massachusetts. Albeit the final meet of the season for many, the Rams charged ahead, exciting the crowd of parents, alumni and students in a pursuit of a historic victory on the men’s side, 156-142.
With a victory of 190-110, the women’s team did not disappoint with 11 event wins. Brunner was the only individual to take two first place finishes in the women’s events. She captured the win in the 50- and 100-yd freestyle in 24.16 and 52.55. Their final win of the meet was in the 200-yd relay, with the combined strength of Brunner, McBride, Samantha McDonald and Theresa Mullen winning in a season-best of 1:38.11.
The first points for the men were earned by Miguel Mattox, Sean Finlay, Joe Mercurio and Joe Vizza in the 200-yd medley, finishing in 1:33.42 minutes. Liam Semple fought for two individuals wins in both distance events, snatching first place with a time of 4:38.57 in the 500-yd freestyle and 9:33.60 in the 1000-yd freestyle. Vizza also dominated his 100- and 200-yd freestyle events, winning with times of 46.87 and 1:41.54, respectively.
While the Rams did not take the first place points in the 100-yd breaststroke, the event was a crowd warmer as senior Nick D’Souza attempted to break one minute in his last career swim with his teammates cheering the end of the lane. Although falling just .03 seconds of his goal, he and Travis Monahan, in third and second places, contributed seven points to the Ram’s final tally.
And so it happened that each and every point mattered for the Rams. Landing first place points in the 200-yd fly, 100-yd fly and 200-yd IM, the final 200 medley relay was the dealbreaker for the Rams’ impending win. The squad of senior Miguel Mattox, freshman Sean Finlay, Mercurio and Vizza as the anchor sealed the deal for the Rams, and helped write-off the meet as the men’s first victory over the Minutemen in program history.
Now at the finish line of the Rams’ regular schedule, the team will be sending selected members of the team to compete at the Atlantic 10 Championship. The entire year’s worth of training will culminate at the conference meet at the Spire Center in Ohio from Feb. 15 to 18.