2015 BMC Championship Fan Guide: Queens Looking to Break Wingate’s Streak

Bluegrass Mountain Conference – Men and Women

  • Dates: Wednesday, February 11th – Saturday, February 14th, 2015, Prelims 10am/Finals 6pm (Saturday 5pm)
  • Location: Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, Charlotte, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Defending Champions: Wingate (Women – 2nd straight), Wingate (Men – 7th straight) (results)
  • Live Results: Available (Also available via Meet Mobile)
  • Live Video (Finals only): Available
  • Psych Sheet: Available
  • Championship Central

The Wingate women’s and men’s teams have won the last two and seven BMC titles, respectively, but Queens is coming into this year’s meet the heavy favorite on both the women’s and men’s sides, with nearly all the top-seeded relays and many heavy hitters in individual events. Last year’s men’s meet was a nail-biter between the two, with Queens leading most of the meet until the last two events, when Wingate went 1-2-5-8 in the 200 fly and finished the 400 free relay in third place (but most importantly, with no DQs) to secure their win. The excitement in the women’s meet was the race for second place between Queens and Johns Hopkins, as the Bulldog women led pretty much the entire meet.

BMC is a coach-run conference comprised of 13 independent schools hailing from NCAA Division 2, NCAA Division 3, and NAIA. Founded in 2000, BMC is a single-sport conference that supports over 400 swimmer student-athletes. Its members are:

Carson-Newman (M,W) Jefferson City, TN NCAA D2
Catawba (M,W) Salisbury, NC NCAA D2
Converse (W) Spartanburg, SC NCAA D2
Davis & Elkins (M,W) Elkins, WV NCAA D2
Fairmont State (M,W) Fairmont, WV NCAA D2
Johns Hopkins (M,W) Baltimore, MD NCAA D3
Lenoir-Rhyne (M,W) Hickory, NC NCAA D2
Limestone (M,W) Gaffney, SC NCAA D2
Pfeiffer (M,W) Misenheimer, NC NCAA D2
Queens (M,W) Charlotte, NC NCAA D2
SCAD Savannah (M,W) Savannah, GA NAIA
West Virginia Weslyan (M,W) Buckhannon, WV NCAA D2
Wingate (M,W) Wingate, NC NCAA D2

(Randolph-Macon and Washington & Lee both moved from Bluegrass Mountain to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference at the start of the 2014-15 season.)

The Bluegrass Mountain Conference is a surprisingly fast conference, and they keep raising the bar every year. The 2013 championship saw meet records fall in in 10 of 14 individual events and 5 of 5 relays for the women, and 5 individual and 2 relay events for the men. Last year’s meet was even more impressive: 12 individual event and all 5 relay records fell on the women’s side, while the men established new marks in 4 individual and 3 relay events.

Many of the 2014 BMC athletes went on to win national titles at their respective championships. In the NCAA D2 meet, Hannah Pfeiffer of Queens won the 100 fly with a new NCAA D2 record, Meridith Boudreaux (Queens) won the 1650 free, and Caroline Arakelian (Queens) won the 200 back with an NCAA D2 record. In the men’s meet, Marko Blazevski (Wingate) won the 400 IM, Matt Josa (Queens) won the 200 IM, 100 fly, and 200 back, all with NCAA D2 records, and the Queens men won the 400 medley and 800 free relays. In the NCAA D3 championships, Anastasia Bogdanovski of Johns Hopkins won the 50 free and 200 free, and the Hopkins women won the 200 free, 200 medley,400 free, 400 medley, and 800 free relays. The Johns Hopkins men also won the 800 free relay. At NAIA Nationals, Caroline Lepesant won the 1650 title, while Joel Ax won the 200 free with the NAIA record, the 500 free, and the 1650 free. Ryan Searles won the 200 back, and the SCAD men won the 800 free relay with a new NAIA record.

4-Day Schedule (no diving)

Wednesday (5pm):
200 Medley Relay
1000 Freestyle
800 Free Relay

Thursday:
500 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
50 Freestyle
400 Medley Relay

Friday:
200 Free Relay
400 Individual Medley
100 Butterfly
200 Freestyle
100 Breaststroke
100 Backstroke

Saturday:
1650 Freestyle
200 Backstroke
100 Freestyle
200 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
400 Freestyle Relay

Stars

Carson-Newman

Women – Amanda Henderson (sophomore, back/fly), Natalie Burnett (sophomore, back/fly), Margaret Stansberry (freshman, back/free), Lexy Raybon (freshman, fly/distance), Nancy Claire Smith (sophomore, free/breast), Maggie Melhorn (freshman, breast/IM), Courtlyn Fields (freshman, IM/fly/free). Men – Paul Ungur (freshman, back/fly), Stephen Parsons (senior, free/IM), Ben Young (senior, sprint), Sam Schechter (sophomore, fly/free). Carson-Newman looks twice as good as last year, which is fitting at it’s the Eagles’ second season in existence. Coach Paige McCord’s recruits are getting stronger and the team should do well in its second BMC Championship. Raybon, Fields and Ungur all received BMC Swimmer of the Week honors this season.

Catawba

Women – Nadine Brockmann (junior, sprint), Janin Kassner (senior, free/breast), Anna Barnes (senior, distance) Amy Cujas (sophomore, free). Men – Dominik Brus (sophmore, free/back), Andrew McCollister (senior, distance/IM), Finn Furstenwerth (senior, breast/IM), Sebastian Holmberg (sophomore, back/IM), Rafal Baran (sophomore, fly/IM) – Catawba’s combined team is only 19 members strong but Coach Betsy Graham continues to attract talented swimmers. Both teams look much stronger this year.

Laura Ann Dixon of Converse College. Photo courtesy of John Byrum

Laura Ann Dixon of Converse College. Photo courtesy of John Byrum

Converse

Laura Ann Dixon (sophomore, fly/IM), Kendall Polk (freshman, distance), Julia Campbell (freshman, IM/distance), Kathy Herman (sophomore, distance), Stephanie Borum (junior, breast/IM) – Coach Corey White had a terrific recruiting year; more than half of the roster is made up of freshmen. The women-only team did better than expected at last year’s BMC meet so it will be interesting to see what they bring this year.

Austin Pillado, Davis and Elkins

Austin Pillado, Davis and Elkins

Davis & Elkins

Women – Kenya Paiz (freshman, distance), Chelsea Faris (sophomore, fly), Kendal Williams (sophomore, free/breast), Brooke Bielecki (sophomore, free/back). Men – Austin Pillado (sophomore, free/breast/IM), Ryan O’Connell (sophomore, free/back), Collin Meadows (junior, breast/IM/free). D&E looks to be improving, and Pillado has had an especially fruitful year, earning BMC Swimmer of the Week honors in January. Nicole Rose took over as head coach of the Davis & Elkins men’s and women’s swim programs this year after serving as Lake Erie College’s first head coach for four years. No stranger to the BMC, Rose was an all-conference swimmer at Wheeling Jesuit when they were still BMC members.

Fairmont State

Women – Alina Zakharava (senior, free), Khrysten Stolins (junior, IM), Sabrina Buhagiar (freshman, breast/free), Audrey Sweeney (sophomore, free/IM). Men – Pasko Komadina (senior, free), Nik Seymenov (sophomore, free), Luka Dilas (junior, free), Joe Andersen (freshman, free), JP Zimcosky (freshman, free). This is a very small program that produces big results. Komadina was recently named BMC Swimmer of the week. At the 2014 BMC championship, Coach Pat Snively’s men set the meet record in the 200 free relay.

Johns Hopkins

Women – Ana Bogdanovski (senior, free), Gwynnie LaMastra (freshman, breast/IM), Anna Wisniewski (freshman, fly/IM), Kaitlin Jones (freshman, IM/breast), Courtney Cowan (freshman, fly/free), Sammi Fox (senior, back/IM). Men – Andrew Greenhalgh (sophomore, free), Evan Holder (sophomore, free/IM), Greg Kogut (senior, fly), Dylan Davis (senior, back), Kyle Otazu (freshman, free/fly/IM), Mark Wilson (freshman, fly/IM). While Bogdanovski is the top seed in three events (50/100/200 free), the JHU women won’t have to rely only on their superstar senior for points; Coach George Kennedy has brought in a formidable freshman class and there’s good depth across the team. Bogdanovski, Wisniewski, Greenhalgh, and Holder have all earned BMC weekly honors this season.

Lenoir-Rhyne

Women – Leah Catherine Watts (junior, back/IM), Abigail McRea (junior, back/free), Brandi Miller (freshman, IM), Kendall Field (junior, IM/back). Men – Noah McRae (freshman, IM/free/back), Robert Armentrout (junior, back/free), Michael Reavis (sophomore, fly). Both Coach Paul Schiffel’s squads should improve their standings from last year; the team looks stronger and deeper. Noah McRae has already broken several school records, while Watts was a BMC Swimmer of the Week in December.

Limestone

Women – Emily Reh (senior, sprint), Rachel Hickey (junior, free/back/IM), Paty Santa Fe (sophomore, distance free), Helina Simsek (freshman, fly/free); Kelly Derr (junior, breast/free); Tobias Feigl (sophomore, breast/free), Anton Jansson (freshman, sprint free/breast), Denis Schultz (junior, fly/back), Marcus da Silva (freshman, distance free/IM). Emil Moller (freshman, free/back/fly), Douglas Trigo (sophomore, free). Both teams finished a solid fourth last year, but we think Coach Greg Doyle’s men, in particular, has the depth to challenge the top three for the team title this year.

Pfeiffer

Women – Mireia Van Riet (freshman, fly/back), Jessica Burgess (junior, back/free), Cydney Donnelly (sophomore, back/free), Kate Galichenko (junior, fly/IM). Men – Dima Turkin (sophomore, back/free), Inigo Alarcia (freshman, breast/IM), Marcin Malczyk (freshman, fly), Ethan Garrison (junior, back/free). Interim head coach Mark Franz has a huge amount of freshman talent on the roster. Both teams look to fall right in the middle of the pack; a few extra “A” finals here or there could put them at the top of the teams vying for fifth place.

Matt Josa. Photo courtesy of Queens Sports Information

Matt Josa. Photo courtesy of Queens Sports Information

Queens

Women – Caroline Arakelian (junior, IM), Hannah Peiffer (sophomore, fly/IM), Meridith Boudreaux (junior, distance free), Lillian Gordy (senior, mid-distance free), Patri Castro Ortega (freshman, free), Lauren Frizzell (junior, distance free), Emma Durante (junior, breast). Men – Matt Josa (sophomore, fly/back/IM), Alex Menke (junior, distance free), Nick Arakelian (freshman, IM/free), Nic Eriksson (senior, breast). Caroline Arakelian has been named BMC Swimmer of the Week three times this season; her brother Nick picked up two honors; Josa, Erikkson, Johnston, and Castro Ortega each earned one nomination. This should finally be the year that Coach Jeff Dugdale’s squads take home their conference titles.

SCAD Savannah

Women – Julie Woody (sophomore, free/back), Caroline Lepesant (junior, free/IM), Rebecca Justus (freshman, fly/IM), Emma McKinley (junior, IM/fly/free), Shannon Cummings (junior, free/fly), Haley Thompson (junior, free), Samantha Bensen (freshman, IM/fly). Men – Joel Ax (sophomore, free/fly), Karl Hegwein (sophomore, back/IM), Tyler Prescott (freshman, IM/back), Ryan Searles (senior, back/free), Kyle Peach (freshman, free). Woody and Ax have both earned BMC Swimmer of the Week honors this season. Coach Chris Conlon may have the strongest mid-sized team in the meet. SCAD gets a lot of points from “A” finalists but they don’t have the depth to compete against the big teams like Queens, Wingate, Hopkins, and Limestone.

West Virginia Wesleyan

Women – Justine Bledsoe (sophomore, free/back), Theresa Burgess (freshman, free/back/IM), Kimmy Culver (sophomore, fly). Men – Mark Mattis (senior, free/IM), Chris Nickerson (sophomore, free). WVWC has a large percentage of underclassmen. If Coach April Gitzen can continue to build the program as she has done over the last several years, WVWC should be very competitive at the conference level in the coming years.

Wingate

Julie Wessler. Photo courtesy of Wingate University

Julie Wessler. Photo courtesy of Wingate University

Women – Julie Wessler (redshirt junior, free/fly), Jessika Weiss (sophomore, breast/IM), Sofia Petrenko (sophomore, free/fly/IM), Rita Koryukova (junior, back), Vika Arkhipova (sophomore, back/free), Ana Fish (junior, free), Armony Dumur (junior, free/fly), Olga Kosheleva (sophomore, breast/IM). Men – Jerome Heidrich (freshman, free), Ossian Arvidsson (junior, distance free/IM), Leif-Henning Kluever (sophomore, free), Oystein Fjeldberg (sophomore, free/fly/IM), Roman Kanyuka (junior, breast). Coach Kirk Sanocki’s teams will try to defend their respective titles but may lose the depth game to Queens this year. However, this team really swims its heart out at conference championships so look to the Bulldogs for a few surprises.

Showdowns

Women’s breaststroke – Believe it or not some of the most exciting races this year could come in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, where Olga Kosheleva and Jessika Weiss of Wingate and Gwynnie LaMastra of Johns Hopkins all have a shot at each conference title. Weiss won both events last year but we’re expecting it to be more challenging this year.

Women’s 100 free – It may be foolish to bet against Hopkins’ Ana Bogdanovski, but if there was ever a year to give us a different sprint queen, it might be 2015. Also in the mix will be Queens’ Patri Castro Ortega and Lillian Gordy, Wingate’s Armony Dumur, and Limestone’s Emily Reh.

Men’s 500 free – The meet could begin with fireworks as some of the conference’s most talented square off in the 500. Andrew Greenhalgh of Hopkins, Nick Arakelian and Alex Menke of Queens, and SCAD’s Joel Ax are all contenders for this title and it should make for an exciting Day One.

Standings

The exciting thing about the BMC is that it’s a rising conference that keeps getting faster and keeps attracting new talent, making for a virtuous circle. It also makes for challengers at the top. Wingate has had the talent and the depth to hold reign over the conference for some time now; the men have won seven straight titles and the women, two in a row, four overall.

Queens has risen in stature over the last several years and is poised to take control of the conference. Last year the men almost dethroned (pun intended) the Wingate Bulldogs and the women had a strong second-place finish. This year we predict will be the most exciting BMC Championships ever, with a very strong head-to-head battle for supremacy in both the women’s and men’s meets.

Perennial powerhouse Johns Hopkins also fields an impressive squad. In particular their women’s relays should not be counted out. The Blue Jays could contend for the title, as well, especially in the women’s meet. Limestone and Carson-Newman seem to have a lock on the next level of contenders in the women’s meet, while on the men’s side Limestone has the possibility of surpassing both Wingate and Hopkins this year. The Saints have a particularly strong roster and it will be exciting to see what they can do here this year.

Carson-Newman, Catawba, Fairmont, SCAD, and Pfeiffer make up the next rung of competitors vying for position in the men’s meet. SCAD’s women and Catawba will chase Carson-Newman and Limestone and try to keep the rest of the teams at bay.

Here is how we score the meet:

Women

  • Queens
  • Wingate
  • Johns Hopkins
  • Limestone
  • Carson-Newman
  • SCAD
  • Catawba
  • Pfeiffer
  • Lenoir-Rhyne
  • WV Wesleyan
  • Davis & Elkins
  • Fairmont
  • Converse

Men

  • Queens
  • Limestone
  • Johns Hopkins
  • Wingate
  • Carson-Newman
  • Fairmont
  • SCAD
  • Catawba
  • Pfeiffer
  • Lenoir-Rhyne
  • Davis & Elkins
  • WV Wesleyan

 

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what happened to Dion Dreesens?

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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