What: AAC Championship
When: February 19-22
Where: Ralph Wright Natatorium in Louisville
Sessions: Wednesday: Diving-12:30 PM, Relays 6:00 PM
Thursday-Saturday: Prelims: 10:00 AM, Diving: 12:30 PM, Finals 6:00 PM
Senior Recognition Ceremonies on Saturday: 5:35 PM
With the NCAA allowing schools to quickly disperse and join other conferences, the AAC, at least on the men’s side, finds themselves a little bare. Cincinnati, UConn, and Louisville all know each other well, all coming from the Big East. The Mustangs are coming into new territory, swimming their way over from C-USA conference that only sponsored a pseudo men’s championship meet the last few years.
SMU is fresh off a conference championship last season but will face quite the challenge in picking up the repeat. Louisville, who came in second behind Notre Dame at the Big East championships last year, hold the top time in every single event in the conference (some going as deep as 1-9).
When all is said and done, this conference will be even thinner next year with Louisville making the jump to the competitive ACC. They’ll certainly make quite an exit in hopes of finishing on a record setting spree. If Louisville can win every single event (diving excluded), it would be quite the way to gout.
Louisville–Joao De Lucca (senior, freestyle), Bryan Draganosky (sophomore, free/IM), Nolan Tesone (sophomore, back/IM), Caryle Blondell (junior, freestyle/backstroke), Trevor Carroll (freshman, freestyle)-This is a deep Louisville squad. If everything falls into place, they are without a doubt the team to beat.
UConn,– William Franz (junior, freestyle, IM), Christopher Girg (freshmen, butterfly), Lachezar Shumkov (junior, breastroke), Michael Lennon (sophomore, freestyle)-The Huskies have some stars but will need a heck of a taper if they want to surprise people.
Cincinnati– Joe Bott (sophomore, distance), Awse Ma’aya (junior, backstroke), Joe Sherpenberg (senior middle distance/backstroker), Cody Green (freshmen, distance free/IM)-Sherpenberg will lead the way for the Bearcats but their missing the depth that would help them surge up the ladder.
SMU–Nicolai Hansen (senior, breastroke/freestyle), Matas Andriekus (junior, backstroke/IM), Devin Burnett (sophomore, diving), Matt Roney(senior, freestyle/fly)-Burnett has been on fire as of late and shows no signs of stopping. SMU will give it everything they got to try and keep up with Louisville.
This championship may turn into an intersquad meet between the men of Louisville if the other teams don’t step up their game. With the Cardinals favored to win every event, this may be the biggest blowout in any conference championship history. However, with De Lucca already punching his ticket to the Big Dance and some of his teammates being ranked well, it’ll be interesting to see how rested the Cardinal men go into the meet; which would be a plus for SMU, UConn, and Cincinnati.
This race could come down to two freshman, and one of them not being from Louisville. Christopher Girg, a UConn Huskie, could be the surprise of the meet in an event that he didn’t swim as a prep star, being from Europe. Girg has already been a 4:25.64 this season in the 500 and could definitely get a significant drop once he rests. Carroll, a freshman Cardinal, leads the conference with the top time by two seconds but could certainly get a race from Girg.
The title of Louisville’s best breaststroker will be on the line in this race. Kameron Chastain and Addison Bray have put up impressive times this year, already going 53 lows. Thomas Dhalia is coming off a redshirt season and impressive long course performances during that time and looks to keep pace with Chastain and Bray at AACs. Depending on who trains through AACs, this race is up for grabs within the Cardinals breaststroke training group.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS PREDICTIONS