2024 MPSF Swimming & Diving Preview: Hawaii Divers Go Huge, Can Their Swimmers Follow?

MOUNTAIN PACIFIC SPORTS FEDERATION (MPSF) – MEN AND WOMEN

  • Dates:
    • Diving: Monday, February 12 – Wednesday, February 14
    • Swimming: Wednesday, February 21 – Saturday, February 24
  • Location:
    • Diving: Marguerite Aquatic Center, Mission Viejo, CA
    • Swimming: Human Performance Center, St. George, UT
  • Defending Champions (men): BYU (3x) – now in Big 12
  • Defending Champions (women): Hawaii (1x)
  • Live Results – Meet Mobile
  • Live Video
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Teams: Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield, Hawaii, Incarnate Word, Pacific, Pepperdine (women), San Diego (women), UC Davis (women), UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego

Hawaii is off to a strong start at the MPSF Championships, sweeping the diving competition for both men and women. With the departure of BYU, who won the last three MPSF conference title, there has been a whole-sale shift in the landscape of the MPSF in the 2023-2024 season, leaving a wide-open race for the title among some of the best mid-major programs in the country.

Men’s Meet – a New Champion Will Emerge

While the Hawaii and UCSD programs might have bigger national brands, the UCSB men are the class of the field of what’s left in the MPSF.

A deep program built for conference championship success, the Gauchos finished 2nd at last year’s championship meet with 696 points – more than 125 points ahead of 3rd-place Hawaii.

While the Gauchos had some key graduations at the end of last season (like 200 IM and 400 IM runner-up Dominic Falcon), the team returned a ton this year (like 200 IM and 400 IM champion Kyle Brill).

Other big returning swimmers include Matt Driscoll, who won the 100 and 200 back at last year’s championships, and Austin Sparrow, who won the 500 free in 4:21.25 and was runner-up in the 200 free in 1:34.93.

The team is especially-good in the distance freestyles. Besides Sparrow in the 500, that includes Taber Dacosta, who crushed his best times midseason in the 500 free (4:22.81) and 1650 free (15:08.16), plus freshman Jack Hendrick, who ranks 4th in the conference in the mile this year.

While Dacosta, the defending conference champion in the mile, is in a new gear this year, he faces a big-time new (old) competitor this season in the form of Greek swimmer Panos Vlachogiannakos, who swims for Incarnate Word.

While Vlachogiannakos was the runner-up in the mile last season at the MPSF Championships behind Dacosta, he’s elevated his performances in a big way this season. Mid-season, he went 14:56 in the mile, which is 24 seconds better than his 2nd-place performance from last year’s conference meet and within a few seconds of what it took for an NCAA Championship invite last season.

Another swimmer in the conference who has developed in a big way this season is Bakersfield sophomore Vili Sivec. After spending last season adapting to college in the US (he’s a native of Croatia), Sivec has hit his stride this season and leads the conference in the 100 fly in 46.62.

With the top three from last year’s conference championship meet absent this year to either graduation (Javier Nicolas of BYU), a new conference (Tony Puertas of BYU), or for personal reasons (Justin Wong of UCSB), Sivec is a big favorite to win the 100 fly this year – an event in which he’s already dropped half-a-second this season.

But he’s also the conference’s best this year in the 100 free (43.11) and 200 fly (1:44.01). He was the conference champion in the 200 fly last season, but could win three titles this season.

As for the favored Gauchos, there have been other big developments too. For example, Henry Adamson, who was 8th at last year’s conference championship meet, leads the conference this year with a 52.76 – a best time by about six-tenths of a second. His 200 breast has come a long way as well, dropping a second-and-a-half to rank 4th in the conference in the 200 breast. Four of the top five (led by Kyle Brill‘s 1:56.41) in the conference this season swim for UCSB.

In the team battle, then, where is the hope to upend UCSB?

For Hawaii, it’s a combination of their divers (they scored the maximum 111 points from their two divers, while UCSB has no divers), and one Karol Ostrowski, who appeared on the team’s roster unexpectedly at the semester break.

He only got one meet, against Ohio State on January 5, to show his impact (that was the Hawaii swimmers’ only spring semester meet), but he already flexed there – with a 20.03 in the 50 free, 43.55 in the 100 free, and 22.82 on the backstroke leadoff leg of the team’s 200 medley relay.

In his last full collegiate swimming, he won NCAA Division II titles for Drury in the 100 free (41.91) and 200 free (1:33.68), was runner-up in the 100 back (45.90), and runner-up in the 50 free (19.18).

While he can only swim three individual events at the D1 championships, if he hits those best times at the MPSF Championships he will easily be a triple champion, marking 60 individual points plus his relay impact.

Even with those two things working in favor of Hawaii, there’s still a gap to be closed if Hawaii wants to catch the favorites.

Combined with swimmers like fellow Pole Kuba Ksaizek (the conference leader in the 50 free in 19.64), Dietrich MeyerJordan Meacham, and Grant Stoddard, Hawaii has the best sprint group in the conference. It’s reminiscent of what the Hawaii women did last year when Laticia Transom transferred in from Hawaii and led a good sprint group to a historic NCAA Championship performance.

UCSD is led by Nathan Lee, who ranks 4th in the MPSF in the 200 IM this season (1:48.18) and 400 IM (3:56.53). He has much better times on his resume in both races, but has historically done a good job of peaking at the conference championships.

For Incarnate Word, besides Vlachogiannakos, another star is Fernando Ruvalcaba Cruz. A three-time CCSA individual champion before Incarnate Word joined the MPSF, he wasn’t at his best last season in his first year in the new conference.

He’s back in a rhythm this year, though, ranking 4th in the 100 back (47.45), 2nd in the 200 back (1:43.14), and 5th in the 200 IM (1:48.35). He went lifetime bests in all of those races at the mid-season Delta State Christmas Invite.

Another name to watch for in those backstroke races is Cal Poly’s Drew Huston. The Mustangs have come away with a fairly-successful year in spite of the team’s head coach being placed on a leave of absence early in the season. They won the CSUB invite in October, and have won three straight dual meets over Bakersfield, Santa Cruz, and Pacific.

Huston especially has thrived through the fog – he was 47.11 mid-season in the 100 back, and has been under his previous lifetime best this year in five swims – including at the team’s two most recent dual meets (48.04, 47.64). He ranks 2nd in the conference this season in that event.

Pacific is led by a breakout swimmer as well – junior Mitchell Hopper. At last year’s MPSF Championships, he scored only 7 individual points. This year, he’s seeded to score around 40. That includes a 2nd seed in the 200 free in 1:36.73. That’s a new race for him – one that he didn’t swim at all last season.

Races to Watch

500 Free – While Panos Vlachogiannakos has pulled away from the field in the 1650 free, the 500 free right now is stacked for a loaded race. He leads the conference this year in 4:21.93, but a quartet of Gauchos are just behind him – including Taber Dacosta and the defending champion Austin Sparrow, who still has a better personal best than Vlachogiannakos.

400 Free Relay – Racing in the fall semester at the SMU Invite, without Ostrowski, Hawaii went 2:52.32. That is already just .07 seconds slower than the MPSF Meet Record set by BYU last season. With Ostrowski, they should crush that – and come close to the “A” standard of 2:50.44, which would be a big breakthrough for that program.

2023 Final Standings

  1. BYU – 830
  2. UCSB – 696
  3. Hawaii – 569.5
  4. Incarnate Word – 422
  5. UCSD – 409
  6. Bakersfield – 306.5
  7. Cal Poly – 202
  8. Pacific – 179

Scores After Diving (Unofficial)

Incarnate Word 117
Hawaii 111
CSUB 93
Cal Poly 81
Pacific 0
UCSB 0
UCSD 0

2024 SwimSwam Predictions

Swimulator analysis – does not include Ostrowski or diving.

While UCSB lost a lot of key pieces from last season, they have still reloaded in a big way and will stack points in the distance races. A lack of sprinters for the Gauchos gives Hawaii a chance thanks to their big diving lead, but UCSB hits right back in races like the 100 breaststroke.

I just think the UCSB team is too good and too deep – and they might even hold off Hawaii in the 400 medley relay (even if Ostrowski swims).

It’s going to be a competitive meet, but ultimately this is UCSB’s to lose.

  1. UCSB
  2. Hawaii
  3. Incarnate Word
  4. UCSD
  5. Cal Poly
  6. Cal State – Bakersfield
  7. Pacific

Women’s Meet – Life After Leticia-Leigh

Last year, USC transfer Leticia-Leigh Transom blew into Hawaii like a hurricane and led the Wahine to their first NCAA Championship relays since 2005.

Her 60 individual points and significant relay impact contributed (but did not entirely explain) the team’s 169.5-point margin of victory. Transom was the star, but a gaggle of teammates racking up 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, and 5th place gave the team substantial depth. They had 8 of the top 16 individual scorers at last year’s meet, and aside from Transom, the other 7 swimmers are all back this season.

That group is led by Anna Friedrich, the defending champion in the 200 back in 1:57.10 and also finished 2nd in the 100 fly (54.09) and 4th in the 200 IM (2:02.26)

This year, she’s the MPSF leader in the 100 backstroke, an event she didn’t swim at last year’s championship. She opened the season with a 53.54 at the SMU Invitational in November; her best time coming into the season was a 54.88 from January 2022.

But she swam the 100 back at last year’s SMU Invitational as well, almost hitting a best time there, and still didn’t race it at the MPSF Championships then either.

But two things have changed since then: one, her 53.54 is a full second faster than her teammate Dorka Dobos swam to finish 2nd at last year’s meet. Two is that the 200 back has gotten significantly better this season, led by UCSD’s Eva Boehlke (1:54.62). Friedrich was 1:57.11 at the SMU Invite, just .01 seconds slower than she was to win last year’s conference title, and the swim only ranks her 3rd in the conference this season.

Other big point scoring swimmers returning for Hawaii from last season:

  • Holly Nelson – 46
  • Isabelle Lombardi – 46
  • Mando Nguyen – 44
  • Gabby Williams-Scudamore – 43

Mando Nguyen is leading the conference in the 200 breaststroke thanks to an early season 2:12.70 personal best.

In swimming, UCSD, UCSB, and Hawaii are in a near dead-heat, on paper, though 198 points from Hawaii’s diving crew will have a lot to say about that (neither UCSD or UCSB have diving programs).

UCSD is led in the pool by freshman Eva Boehlke, who is the conference leader this season in the 200 back (1:56.42), 200 IM (2:00.41), and 400 IM (4:16.58). She should face stiff competition in all of those races aside from maybe the 400 IM, where returning UC Davis junior Sam Rhodes (4:19.76) ranks 2nd in the conference this season in 4:23.64.

Boehlke isn’t the only freshman giving the Tritons a huge boost. Asia Kozan is the conference’s top seed in the 100 free (49.51) and 200 fly (1:57.24).

Miranda Renner leads the UCSD sprint group as the conference’s only swimmer under 23 seconds this season (22.70), and Chloe Braun leads the field in the 100 breaststroke by half-a-second (1:00.99) – a lifetime best in November. Braun’s presence is especially important as Katja Pavicevic, the defending champion in the 200 IM and 200 breast and runner-up in the 100 breast, transferred to UNC.

A team with a wide-range of specialties, UCSD also has the conference leader this season in the 1650 free, Julia Arzave (16:35.84).

UCSD is a very good team at the top, but they don’t have the depth of Hawaii, so they’ll need that top tier to carry a lot of the load for them.

UCSB falls somewhere in the middle. Samantha Banos, the runner-up last season, is in another gear this season, hit a 53.98 at the mid-season Zippy Invitational and is the conference leader. They’re climbing an uphill battle after the graduation of double MPSF champion Maelynn Lawrence, though.

UC Davis, which has the conference’s second-best diving crew, is led in the lanes by freshman Naomi Boegholm, who swam 23.07 at the mid-season Trailblazer Invite. Her 23.07 is a lifetime best and about half-a-second better than she was in high school.

Races to Watch

200 back – Eva Boehlke is the top of the heap this season, already dropping a second from her high school best time. The defending champion Anna Fredrich, meanwhile, has been just as good as last year, but she’s chasing a loaded field. The runner-up last year Hazel Derr from UCSB was only .04 seconds behind Fredrich at MPSFs, but has been half-a-second better this year. Note: Mia Griffith’s time in the official NCAA database is an error.

100 fly – The defending champion Anna Lee from UC Davis has graduated, but there is a deep field vying for this 100 fly crown. Besides UCSB’s Banos, who has already dropped a half-second this season, the field includes the conference’s top sprinter Miranda Renner (54.12), UCSB’s Makena Leacox (54.13), and Hawaii star Anna Friedrich, who has only been 54.95 this season but was the runner-up last year.

Last Year’s Results

  1. Hawaii – 773.5
  2. UCSD – 604
  3. BYU – 592
  4. UCSB – 544
  5. UC Davis – 454
  6. CSU Bakersfield – 274
  7. Pacific – 182
  8. San Diego – 146.5
  9. Cal Poly – 143
  10. Incarnate Word – 107

Note: Pepperdine joins the conference this year from PCSC.

Diving Scores – 2024

Hawaii 198
UC Davis 187
Pepperdine 37
Cal Poly 35
San Diego 8
UCSB 0
UCSD 0
CSUB 0
Incarnate Word 0
Pacific 0

SwimSwam Picks

Swimulator analysis, which doesn’t include Gabby Williams-Scudamore for Hawaii, so add another 40 points to make this a real dead-heat – for swimming.

I think UCSD has the most impressive swim team this year, but the Tritons are going to learn the hard way this year, after dropping their diving program, how hard it is to win conference titles without divers.

Hawaii’s lead is massive, and I don’t think they’ve shown their best hand yet this season. ‘Bows for the repeat.

Beyond that it gets really interesting. Can Davis’ huge points in diving close that swimming gap with the top two?

I think it’s not quite enough.

  1. Hawaii
  2. UCSD
  3. UCSB
  4. UC Davis
  5. Bakersfield
  6. Cal Poly
  7. Pacific
  8. Pepperdine
  9. Incarnate Word
  10. San Diego

In This Story

6
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

6 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ole ole
2 months ago

Thanks for showing the mid majors some love by writing this MPSF preview. Hoping to see best swims for the entire field with the Gauchos on top.

Swim fan
2 months ago

Cal Poly coach being placed on leave was the best thing to happen to that team. The vibe is so good right now and the team has training purposefully and having success with the Tom as the interim coach. The athletes are happy and healthy and in a much better mental space. Now let’s hope that Cal Poly admin see this wake up call and does NOT bring back Phil after conference.

guachoblls
3 months ago

Yeah the team that got 0 points in diving and doesn’t have a 24 year old polish Olympian is the favorite good one 💀

gregg wilson
Reply to  guachoblls
3 months ago

hate it or love it the underdogs on top

Gregg Wilson for president 2016
Reply to  guachoblls
3 months ago

gaucho nation – lets ride

Last edited 3 months ago by Gregg Wilson for president 2016
Bim
3 months ago

Go gauchos

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »