MAC Men’s Championships 2015 Preview: Missouri State Looking for Second Straight Title

Missouri State will look to defend their MAC Championship title from a season ago at when the MAC men’s programs converge on the SPIRE institute in Geneva, Ohio starting Wednesday.

The Bears return all four members of their 200 free, 200 medley, 400 medley, 400 free, and 800 free relays, as well as swimmer of the meet Uvis Kalnins, who won individual titles in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 100 freestyle. Kalnins played a part of the four shorter relays.

Returning each member of those relays, as well as Kalnins, makes the Bears the clear favorite to repeat as champions and win their second Mid American Conference title.

The Bears hold all five of the conference’s top relay times again this season, as well as the top times in six of the championships individual events, three of which belong to Kalnins in the events he won last season.

Miami (Ohio), and Southern Illinois hold the other top times, and will challenge Missouri State in individual events. All five of Southern Illinois’ relays rank in the top three of the MAC, but unless they can pull major upsets, they will not be able to knock off the bears.

One race to watch will be the 100 breaststroke, where the second through seventh fastest swimmers this season are all within under three tenths of each other.

Isaac Springer of Missouri State, Hutch Blackstone of Miami of Ohio, Joe Morris of Ball State, Uldis Tazans of Missouri State, Steve Russo of Miami of Ohio, and Calvin Kolar of Southern Illinois all have swum between 55.58 and 55.86 this season.

Further, with a time drop, any one of these swimmers could move up to challenge Buffalo freshman Itai De La Vega, who has the top time going into the meet with a 55.11.

The 200 freestyle relay could be another close race, with the Missouri State relay and Southern Illinois relay just .03 hundredths separated, 1:21.22 to 1:21.25, respectively. Barring a large time drop from the Miami relay, which is the number three team with a 1:22.36, this is essentially a two horse race.

Paul Le, Kalnins, Will Brand, and Isaac McKnight will line up for Missouri State against the team of Till Pallmann, Shaun Wolfe, Dj Vukobrat, and Andre Luiz Brilhante for Southern Illinois.

With five relays in contention for titles, and a star like Kalnins, if all goes well for the Bears, Missouri State will hoist their second straight MAC championship trophy.

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