Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championship Fan Guide: Hopkins Women and Men Looking Strong

  • Dates: CHANGED TO Friday, February 14th – Sunday, February 16th, 2014
  • Location: Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, Charlotte, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Defending Champions: Wingate (Women), Wingate (Men) (results)
  • Live Results: Available via Meet Mobile (download instructions available at this link)
  • Live Video (If available): Available
  • Championship Central

Update as of Tuesday, February 11: due to severe weather conditions in Charlotte, the BMC Championship meet format has been modified:

Friday 2/14:    1:00pm    1000 free (M&W)
                              4:00pm    Traditional NCAA format Day 1 (timed finals)
Saturday 2/15:                    Prelims & finals – day 2 NCAA format
Sunday 2/16:                       Prelims & finals – day 3 NCAA format

Bluegrass Mountain is a coach-run conference comprised of fifteen 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
Randolph-Macon (M,W) Ashland, VA NCAA D3
Queens (M,W) Charlotte, NC NCAA D2
SCAD Savannah (M,W) Savannah, GA NAIA
Washington & Lee (M,W) Lexington, VA NCAA D3
West Virginia Weslyan (M,W) Buckhannon, WV NCAA D2
Wingate (M,W) Wingate, NC NCAA D2


The BMC welcomes a new conference member this year: Carson-Newman, which is in its inaugural year and already getting some fast swims.

The 2014 BMC Championship meet will score A,B, and C finals for the first time, so the advantage will go to the deepest teams. Johns Hopkins, Wingate and Queens have the strength and depth on both the men’s and women’s sides and they are evenly-enough matched that a few surprisingly good swims from any of them could be enough to tip the balance in one direction or another.

Last year was a fast championship, with women’s meet records falling in 10 of 14 individual events and 5 of 5 relays, and men’s meet records going down in 5 individual and 2 relay events. Three women from the 2013 championship won a total of six titles at their respective nationals (Hannah Legg of SCAD won 400 IM, 200 back and 200 fly NAIA titles; Caroline Arakelian of Queens won NCAA D2 titles in the 400 IM and 200 back; and Caroline Lepesant of SCAD won the 1650 at NAIA), while three men won a national title in each of their respective national meets (Alex Menke of Queens won the 1650 at NCAA D2; Dylan Davis of Johns Hopkins won the 100 back at NCAA D3; and Ryan Searles of SCAD won the 200 back at NAIA).

About half of last year’s event winners have graduated but a whole crew of fast newcomers should make this championship even more exciting than last year.


Carson-Newman  –  Natalie Burnett (freshman, back/fly), Taylor Bing (freshman, free); Stephen Parsons (junior, free/IM), Joshua Grover (freshman, fly/IM) – This is Carson-Newman’s first year with a swim team and already they are making a splash with several top-8 seeds. Burnett and Grover each earned a BMC Swimmer of the Week honor this season. Coach Paige McCord’s recruits should do well in their first BMC Championship.

Catawba  –  Palmer Benson (sophomore, breast/IM), Anna Barnes (junior, free); Dominik Brus (freshman, free/back), Jev Gamper (sophomore, breast/free), Finn Furstenwerth (junior, breast/IM) – Catawba’s combined team is only 22 members strong but while they graduated their top scorer Sebastian Holmberg, Coach Betsy Graham continues to attract talented swimmers. Both teams are especially strong in the breaststroke events.

Converse  –  Stephanie Borum (sophomore, breast/IM), Laura Dixon (freshman, fly/IM) – It is unlikely that Converse can finish as high as they did last year having graduated their 200 breast conference champion, but Coach Corey White’s eight entrants are poised to score well, especially in the relays.

Davis & Elkins  –  Autumn Wunderlich (freshman, IM/back); Austin Pillado (freshman, free/breast/IM), Alexander Garcia (freshman, breast/IM) – In his second season at the helm, Coach Nick Smith has recruited a very strong group of freshmen men and women which should pay off over the next several years.

Fairmont State  –  With only four members to its women’s conference team, each one has a role: Michelle Stambaugh (senior, free), Khrysten Stolins (sophomore, IM), Audrey Sweeney (freshman, free/IM), and Alina Zakharava (junior, free); on the men’s side, David Dent (senior, free) and Pasko Komadina (junior, free) lead a team of five. Komadina was recently named BMC Swimmer of the week. Coach Pat Snively’s strongest showing will be in the men’s relays: the 200 free relay is seeded first and the 400, third.

Johns Hopkins  –  Anastasia Bogdanovski (junior, free), Taylor Kitayama (senior, back/IM), Shirley Chan (freshman, fly/IM), Sarah Rinsma (senior, free), Abby Brown (freshman, fly), Sammi Fox (junior, back/IM); Andrew Greenhalgh (freshman, free), Anthony Lordi (senior, free), Dylan Davis (junior, back), Evan Holder (freshman, free/IM), Greg Kogut (junior, fly). Coach George Kennedy didn’t graduate too many of last year’s top scorers and he brought in a very strong freshman class. The women’s relays are all seeded solidly at the top and most of the entrants have at least one top-eight seed time. The men have a very good chance of jumping to the top this year on the strength of their relays and numerous swimmers expected to score in the A finals. Kitayama and Greenhalgh earned BMC Swimmer of the Week honors.

Lenoir-Rhyne  –  Leah Watts (sophomore, back/IM); Robert Armentrout (sophomore, back/free), Nicholas Gibson (sophomore, fly/IM). Coach Paul Schiffel’s squad could improve its standing from last year; the relays look stronger and more of their finalists will score points under the new scoring system.

Limestone  –  Rachel Hickey (sophomore, free/back/IM), Casey Greener (senior, breast/IM), Paty Santa Fe (sophomore, distance free), Emily Reh (junior, sprint free); Tobias Feigl (freshman, breast), Sean Gunn (freshman, sprint free), Kristofers Pone (sophomore, breast). Hickey and Feigl have both been named BMC Swimmer of the Week this season. Coach Greg Doyle has put together really solid men’s and women’s teams which are outside the reach of the top three but should have enough depth to stay above the melee for fifth.

Pfeiffer  –  Kate Galichenko (sophomore, fly/IM); Dima Turkin (freshman, back/free), Dmitry Kozlov (freshman, distance free/IM). Coach Eric Anderson brought in a huge group of talented freshmen; the men’s team in particular has a shot at fifth this year and both teams should continue to see improvement over the next several years.

Queens  –  Caroline Arakelian (sophomore, IM), Meredith Boudreaux (sophomore, distance free), Lillian Gordy (junior, mid-distance free), Hannah Peiffer (freshman, fly/IM), Emma Durante (junior, breast); Matt Josa (freshman, fly/back/IM), Alex Menke (junior, distance free), Nic Eriksson (junior, breast). Josa has been honored 3 times as BMG Swimmer of the Week this season; Pfeiffer, Arakelian and Eriksson twice each; and Durante once. Both Coach Jeff Dugdale’s squads are ranked in the top-three in the latest NCAA D2 national poll.

Randolph-Macon  –  Bobby Brajdic (junior, back/IM), Andrew Wineinger (freshman, distance free), Preston Edwards (junior, fly/IM), Mohamed Saleh (freshman, free/back). Coach Brent Kintzer has a small team but they pack a lot of punch, especially in the free relays.

SCAD Savannah  –  Hannah Legg (sophomore, fly/back/IM), Caroline Lepesant (sophomore, free/IM), Emma McKinley (sophomore, free/fly/IM); Joel Ax (freshman, free/fly), Ryan Searles (junior, back), Mark Shvartsman (junior, fly), Karl Hegwein (freshman, back/IM). Lepesant and Ax have both been given BMC Swimmer of the Week honors this season. Pound for pound, Coach Chris Conlon has one of the strongest teams in the meet. SCAD has a mid-sized roster but they get a lot of points from “A” finalists; they don’t have the depth to gain much from the new scoring, though.

Washington & Lee  –  Elisabeth Holmes (freshman, distance free), Lauren Kasoff (senior, fly/IM); Alex Fox (sophomore, distance free), Billy Fries (sophomore, distance free), Jamie Hayes (freshman, distance free). Coach Kami Gardner is in her second season at the helm. She brought in a huge group of freshmen who provide depth this year and should continue to add strength to the program in the next several seasons.

West Virginia Weslyan  –  Alyssa Morris (freshman, free/fly), Justine Bledsoe (freshman, free/back); Phil Fisher (senior, distance free), Mark Mattis (junior, free/IM), Max Garner (senior, breast). WVWC is another team with a very large percentage of freshmen. Coach April Staniszewski, only in her third year, is building a program that hopes to be increasingly competitive at the conference level.

Wingate  –  Olga Kosheleva (sophomore, breast/IM), Jessika Weiss (freshman, breast/IM), Katie Pheil (senior, back/free), Julie Wessler (sophomore, distance free), Vika Arkhipova (freshman, back/free); Marko Blazevski (senior, free/fly/IM), Roman Kanyuka (sophomore, breast), Evan Kolovich (freshman, back/fly), Makis Jorgensen (sophomore, free), Tim Kniffler (senior, back/IM. Blazevski was named BMC Swimmer of the Week. Coach Kirk Sanocki’s Wingate has the depth and the breadth to come away with the championship title, especially on the men’s side, but it will be a close contest with Johns Hopkins and Queens.


Women’s 200 yard butterfly – There is a lot of talent in the 200 fly this year. Queens freshman Hannah Pfeiffer is top seed with 2:00, which is more than two seconds under the current meet record. Just behind her are Hopkins freshman Shirley Chan and last year’s conference champion Hannah Legg of SCAD. 2013 “A” finalists Kellie Gervas of Wingate, Emma McKinley of SCAD, and Kate Galichenko of Pfeiffer, along with a whole host of newcomers, could also make the top eight an interesting final.

Men’s 200 yard backstroke – The 200 back will be exciting because of its superstar power, with national champions and record-holders all going head to head. It will pit 2013 champion Tim Kniffler of Wingate against SCAD national NAIA champion Ryan Searles, Johns Hopkins’s NCAA D3 national 100 back champion Dylan Davis, and Queens freshman Matt Josa, who has already broken the NCAA D2 record in the event in his first season. Josa’s seed time is four seconds faster than last year’s winning time, and over five seconds faster than second-seeded Davis. It will be interesting to see if anyone can close the gap, but if not, the race for second should be fun to watch as well.

Men’s 200 yard freestyle – This could be the most exciting race of the meet. The 200 freestyle has become really fast in the BMC and there is a lot of depth as well; the top six should all go under 1:38 this year. To put that in perspective, last year’s winner Hayden Kosater of Queens, went 1:38-low and #2-5 all went 1:39. Pasko Komadina (Fairmont), Anthony Lordi, Evan Holder and Will Kimball (all of Hopkins), Christian Larsen (Limestone), and Joel Ax (SCAD) all come in with sub-1:40 seed times.


2014 should finally be Johns Hopkins’ year. The women finished second to Wingate last year and the men were third behind Wingate and Queens, but owing to several key graduations at the other schools, and very solid Hopkins performers in every event and from every class, the Blue Jays are our favorite by a wide margin in the women’s meet and by a narrow margin in the men’s.

We are predicting a very tight race between Queens and Wingate for second in the women’s meet. After the top three, Limestone should be the sole contender for fourth and SCAD for fifth, but a couple of upsets from any of the schools in the middle could completely reshape the standings.

The men’ s meet looks to be very exciting. We’ve got Johns Hopkins coming out on top but a relay here, a relay there could easily reshuffle the top three and Wingate or Queens might take the crown. As on the women’s side, there is most likely a large drop-off to number four, where Limestone sits alone. After that it’s really anyone’s game, with SCAD, Fairmont, Catawba, and Pfeiffer all battling for fifth.

All in all it looks like everyone is bringing improved squads to the conference championship this year. Many of the top swimmers are seeded with times that would break the championship record, so we are looking forward to a fast meet. Here are our picks below:


  1. Johns Hopkins
  2. Wingate
  3. Queens
  4. Limestone
  5. SCAD Savannah
  6. Carson-Newman
  7. Catawba
  8. Washington & Lee
  9. Converse
  10. WV Wesleyan
  11. Lenoir-Rhyne
  12. Pfeiffer
  13. Fairmont
  14. Davis & Elkins


  1. Johns Hopkins
  2. Queens
  3. Wingate
  4. Limestone
  5. SCAD Savannah
  6. Fairmont
  7. Catawba
  8. Pfeiffer
  9. Carson-Newman
  10. Washington & Lee
  11. WV Wesleyan
  12. Randolph-Macon
  13. Lenoir-Rhyne
  14. Davis & Elkins

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Very well done. Awesome job highlighting the BMC and the teams! Do you think you can do something about the weather 🙂


Thanks, Ann! This is an interesting Conference, with DII & DIII AND SCAD, the lone NAIA representative! Can’t wait to see your writeup of the NAIA Championships in Oklahoma City next month! Go Bees!!!

Tessa hardee

Any chance this meet could move to a larger venue, say the new facility in Richmond, or the UNC natatorium? Mecklenburg Aquatic Center is a tight fit.

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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