Somerset, NJ — The Northeast Conference (NEC) women’s swimming & diving coaches have tabbed Wagner as the 2015-16 preseason favorite. The Seahawks, who will look to capture their second NEC title in three years, received five-of-eight first place votes.
Defending NEC champion Central Connecticut was picked second in the poll and received the remaining three first place votes. Bryant and Saint Francis U were slotted in third and fourth spots, respectively, while LIU Brooklyn, in its first year sponsoring the sport, was tabbed fifth. Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart and St. Francis Brooklyn rounded out the eight-team poll.
The 2016 NEC Swimming & Diving Championship is set for February 24-27, 2016 on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA.
NEC Front Row, the league’s cutting edge digital network, will air the 2016 NEC Championship. For more insight and special swimming features, visit necfrontrow.com
Wagner finished a close second to Central Connecticut at last year’s NEC championship, piling up 813 points in the process. Wagner won 10 out of the 20 events at the event while also medaling an individual in all but three events. The Seahawks became just the second team in conference history to crack the 800-point team mark more than once.
Led by fifth year head coach Colin Shanahan, the Seahawks will return five first team All-NEC selections including 2015 NEC Outstanding Swimmer Anu Nihipali (Honolulu, HI/Hawaii Preparatory Academy) and NEC Outstanding Diver Sam Lavrich (Audubon, PA/Mathacton). Nihipali, who became the first NEC swimmer in eight years to qualify for the NCAA Championships, added her name to the record books three times last February. The junior broke her own NEC record times in the 100 (53.79) and 200 Back (1:58.33) she had set the previous year, and added a third record (2:01.88) in the 200 IM.
At last year’s NEC championship senior Amanda Lucia (Easthampton, MA/Easthampton) also established new standards in the 200 Fly (1:59.34) and the 400 IM (4:21.38).
Points of #NECPride
Central Connecticut will look to defend its 2015 NEC Championship title under the direction of NEC Coach of the Year Bill Ball and NEC Diving Coach of the Year Anthony Coatright. The Blue Devils return 2015 NEC Rookie of the Meet Maddy Garber (Milford, MA/Milford), who won the 100 (1:01.78) and 200 (2:13.37) breaststroke and set a pair of league records in the process. Senior Kaitlin Beaver (Hamden, CT/Sacred Heart Academy) also returns for her final campaign after claiming the NEC 1-meter diving title last winter.
The Blue Devils also set new NEC meet records in winning the 400 freestyle relay and the 200/400 medley relays with the help of junior Christine Rasile (Branford, CT/Branford), who competed on all three winning teams.
Bryant will look to improve on last year’s third place NEC finish behind the leadership of seniors Julia Messina (Canandaigua, NY/Canandaigua Academy) and Lauren Doerrman (Oley, PA/Oley Valley), who were second team All-NEC selections at last year’s meet. Messina was the runner up in the 100 breaststroke while Doerrman claimed second place in the 400 IM.
Saint Francis U, which won four straight NEC titles from 2010-13, returns senior first team All-NEC honoree Catherine Rogers (Nokesville, VA/Seton School), who won the 50 free (23.39) at last year’s championship. Saint Francis U also brings back junior Jessie Reilly (Pittsburgh, PA/Upper St. Clair) and sophomore Katie Lafferty (Bremen, IN/Bremen), who both came in second in the 100 and 200 free, respectively.
LIU Brooklyn will look to make a splash in its first year of competing under head coach Tiffany Clay. Clay comes to LIU after spending the last four seasons at UNC Wilmington where her team earned the last four of 13 straight Colonial Athletic Association titles.
Mount St. Mary’s brings back senior Haley Fournier (Naples, FL/Palmetto Ridge), the lone returnee for the Mount who found a place on the podium after taking the bronze in the 1,650 free at the 2016 NEC championship.
Junior Jillian Crosby (Port Monmouth, NJ/Red Bank Catholic) is back for Sacred Heart after she took second place at last year’s NEC meet in the 500 free.
St. Francis Brooklyn returns junior Anne Kuczynski (Coral Springs, FL/Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS), who posted the top times for the Terriers at the 2015 NEC Championship in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke events, and the 200 free.
About the Northeast Conference
Now in its 35th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States – New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#23), Baltimore (#27), and Hartford/New Haven (#30). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+, all @NECsports.
Swimming news courtesy of Northeast Conference.