The Grand Valley State University swim and dive teams competed in the 2022 GLIAC Swimming and Diving Championship this past weekend, Feb. 4-7. GVSU won a total of 16 GLIAC event titles and made 38 NCAA B-cuts. The men’s team claimed their eighth consecutive GLIAC championship with a four-day total of 973 points, outdistancing the runner up Wayne State University (577) by 396 points. The women’s team finished third with a total of 765 points, which was 81.5 points behind first place Northern Michigan University (846.5).
“It was a great conference championship,” said coach Andy Boyce. “Both the men’s and women’s teams stepped up and went the distance. The men’s team got the job done and won it and women came in third.”
The GLIAC’s Men’s Swimmer of the Year senior Keegan Hawkins finished second and hit the NCAA B-cut in the 200 breast (1:59.99), one second higher than his top time. Sophomore Matthew Lane placed seventh (2:05.28), junior Evan Dies, eighth (2:09.78) and junior Austin Cabel, 14th (2:08.20) in the 200 breaststroke.
Sophomore Eric Hieber dominated with his first-place finish in the 1650 freestyle (15:26.31), which qualified him for the NCAA B-cut. The win also marked the second straight year that Hieber took first and swept the distance events (500, 1000, 1650).
GLIAC Freshman of the Year Jon Kantezenbach hit the NCAA B-cut and placed third in the 1650 freestyle (15:42.26), while Lane placed fourth and also hit the NCAA B-cut (15:49.29). Senior Daniel Mullen finished 11th with 16:26.61.
In the 100-meter freestyle, freshman Matt Bosch received second and hit the NCAA B-cut in the 100 m freestyle with 44.50 and freshman Austin Millard finished seventh with 46.48. Freshman Travis Black placed eighth with 46.77 while fellow freshman Aaron Dies hit 10th at 45.96 and senior Cade Vruggink, 14th with 46.53.
The men’s team had three athletes place in the 200-meter backstroke with junior Roger Miret Sala hitting the NCAA B-cut and placing third with 1:47.09. Freshmen Thomas Zoldowski finished seventh (1:50.47) while Will Herwig placed eighth at 1:51.52.
“It was a lot more cheering this year,” Boyce said. “All the teams faced COVID-19 in the last month, so we lost practice time, but we were able to pull it together and finish really well.”
GVSU clinched their eighth consecutive GLIAC title with an outstanding NCAA B-cut and the GLIAC title in the 400-meter free relay. Mired Sala, Bosch, Millard and senior Oscar Saura-Armengol finished with a 2:57.11 time.
Boyce was named the GLIAC Men’s Coach of the Year — the ninth time he has earned the award.
“We did a great job; big shout out to my associate head coach Eric Murray and diving coach Steve Burciaga,” Boyce said. “They did an excellent job supporting the team this year as well and it was great to see the team’s performance.”
In the women’s events, senior Samantha Laurich was named the GLIAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year for the second straight season. She continued her dominance and finished first in the 200-meter breaststroke with 2:15.82, helping her to make the B-cut and claim her third individual GLIAC title in 2022. Junior Delaney Wihebrink also hit the B-cut and placed second with 2 :16.34 while fellow junior Dayna Borregard finished ninth with 2:26.29. Sophomore Veronica Lantz placed 16th in the event with a 2:34.75.
In the women’s 1650 freestyle, GVSU had the four top finishes led by sophomore Sarah Puscas who touched the wall first at 17:19.23 and helped her to hit the NCAA B-cut. Junior Bianca Licari placed second with 17:25.23 and senior Charlottee Brereton got third with 17:33.54 while freshman Kayley Gallagher finished fourth with 17:41.49. Junior Erin Jacob placed ninth with 17:56.69, giving GVSU a total of 77 points in the event.
Three women placed in the 100-meter freestyle with junior Rebecca Farber finishing seventh at 52.42, followed by sophomore Tina Winter in 13th with 53.15 and junior Claire Meeuwsen placing 16th with 54.10.
In the 1-meter board event, junior Gracyn Segard placed third with a score of 416.50, while freshman Maddie Kooistra finished sixth (384.05) and sophomore Jess McEachern finished in eighth (374.65). Senior Nicole Carlson placed 10th (367.25) and sophomore Carissa Wooley added a 11th place finish with 355.05.
“It’s always our goal to be conference champs,” Boyce said. “The men pulled it off this year and the women fell just short. The season isn’t over yet, we’re going to look at where we’re at. We got another month with the NCAA championships in North Carolina. We’re going to have some good competition with some of the best teams in the country, so I’m excited for that.”
The Lakers will compete next at the 2022 NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships March 9-12 in Greensboro, North Carolina.