Eastern Michigan Wins Third Straight MAC Men’s Title

2017 MEN’S MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Missouri State had seen it happen before.  In 2013 and 2015 the Bears held a significant lead toward an MAC Championship title, and had that lead stripped from them on the final day to lose by a small margin to the Eastern Michigan Eagles.  This year, they had done everything right.  They knew how many points they would need to create a buffer between them and the strong fourth day that both Buffalo and EMU would have.  Both teams would have the advantage of unanswered points in diving, but Eastern Michigan would have a strong showing in the backstroke as well.

When the dust finally settled, Missouri State’s lead did not prove to be enough. After taking complete ownership of the podium in the 200 backstroke and claiming major points on six strong divers, the MAC Championship would go once again to the Eagles, with the stars aligning for Eastern Michigan to down the Bears by one point.   This makes three straight MAC Championship titles for Eastern Michigan, and their 34th win in the history of the conference.  Once again it has come down to the last relay, and for the 24th time under Head Coach Peter Linn’s leadership the MAC Crown has come home to EMU.

Final team scores:

  1. Eastern Michigan 717
  2. Missouri State 716
  3. University at Buffalo 661.5
  4. Miami (Ohio) University 518.5
  5. Southern Illinois 489
  6. Ball State 147
  7. Evansville 146

1650 FREESTYLE

  1. Antonio Thomas, Missouri State 14:56.02
  2. Kyle Lichtenberg, Eastern Michigan 15:12.04
  3. Minki Kang, Missouri State 15:24.13

Missouri State freshman Antonio Thomas erased a 20 year old record to begin the final session of the MAC Championship.  His winning time removed .85 from the 14:59.87 set by EMU’s Mark Leonard in 1997 and left all other competitors 16 seconds behind.  That time would have been invited to the NCAA Championship in 2016 and currently ranks him 26th in the nation, making him likely to be invited to the show.

200 BACKSTROKE

  1. Tosh Kawaguchi, Eastern Michigan 1:44.73
  2. Cole Bateman, Eastern Michigan 1:45.06
  3. Matan Segal, Eastern Michigan 1:45.86

Eastern Michigan’s domination in the 200 back was the Eagles’ answer to Missouri State’s domination earlier this weekend in the 200 IM as Coach Linn’s backstroke squad landed four athletes in the A-final.  Tosh Kawaguchi, Cole Bateman and Matan Segal crowded the podium with a 1-3 sweep that left no other team putting an athlete within a second of them.

100 FREESTYLE

  1. Mason Miller, Buffalo 44.03
  2. Andre Luiz Brilhante, Southern Illinois 44.56
  3. Jake Tyson, Eastern Michigan 44.57

Both Buffalo and Missouri State put three athletes into the A-final for the 100 freestyle, leading fans to predict the tight last relay that would end the night.

200 BREASTSTROKE

  1. Phillip Willett, Missouri State 1:57.07
  2. Bobby Wood, Southern Illinois 1:57.13
  3. Christopher Heye, Missouri State 1:57.84

Eastern Michigan only managed to land one athlete in the A-final for the 200 breast, giving up ground to the Bears in the event.  This is the event where Missouri State has carried the most depth all year, even taking their top performer of the season, #20 ranked Artur Osvath, out as a part of their conference meet strategy. Notably absent from the event was the original third seed, Nick Theunissen, who had finished fourth place in the 100 breast during the Saturday session.

200 BUTTERFLY

  1. Filippo Dell’Olio, Southern Illinois 1:45.55
  2. Kacper Cwiek, Missouri State 1:46.56
  3. Logan Burton, Eastern Michigan 1:46.98

Southern Illinois standout Filippo Dell’Olio repeated as MAC 200 Fly Champion, this time etching his name into the record books.  The fallen record of 1:45.78 was set by fellow Saluki Lucas Aquino in 2015.

3-METER DIVING

  1. Alexander Chan, Eastern Michigan 422.75
  2. Troy Bridsall, Buffalo 363.30
  3. Daniel Gironza, Eastern Michigan 357.20

Both Buffalo and Eastern Michigan were strong in diving, but EMU scored six athletes, with five of them in the top seven positions in the 3-meter event.  Those points were enough to edge them just ahead of the Bears, erasing the remainder of the lead that Missouri State had been slowly building over three days. Alex Chan repeated as MAC Champion in the event, laying claim to the title for all four years of his career at EMU.

400 FREESTYLE RELAY

  1. University at Buffalo 2:58.44
  2. Missouri State 2:59.13
  3. Eastern Michigan 3:00.32

In true MAC fashion, the final relay determined the Conference Championship, with the Buffalo team of Eric Jensen (45.14,) Hudson Carroll (45.96,) Martin Leigh (44.23,) and Mason Miller (44.23) holding Missouri State from claiming the points they needed to overcome EMU’s brilliant day four performances. Eastern Michigan would hold back the Saluki’s for third place, earning just enough points to get the job done.

 

 

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BlueSky75

Flu like symptoms affected a number of swimmers from various teams on last two days of championships.

Connor

Flu like symptoms took out one of eastern’s scorers before the first day of individual races.

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