by Jared Prenda
The Catholic University of America men’s swimming and diving team captured their first Landmark Conference title in school history this past weekend. The team racked up 806 points over the course of the weekend, a staggering 220 points more than runner ups University of Scranton.
The Cardinals kicked off their title run by defending their title in the 200-freestyle relay. The team was compiled of two freshman, Olivier Nguyen and George Isaacs, and two seniors, Nick Haas and Joe Cihak. The foursome combined for a time of 1:26.10 in their first-place effort.
Junior Joseph Soraghan also had an impressive performance on the first night in the 3-meter diving event. Soraghan managed to set the program record for the 3-meter 11 dive record at 322 in the preliminaries. Then raised the bar to 341.85 in the finals to earn a silver in the event. Sophomore Daniel McInerney earned 4th place in the event with an aggregate score of 341.85 over his 11 dives.
The Birds continued their dominant run in the 500-freestyle event, where sophomore Sam Hicks earned a 2nd place finish with a time of 4:48.97. He was joined by freshman Brian Aberle whose time of 4:53.19 earned 6th place.
The Cardinals concluded the opening night of the 3-day tournament in the 200-individual medley, where freshman Michael Taylor hit a time of 1:59.30 for a 4th place finish. Also, racing for the Cards was fellow freshman Chris Crafa, who came in 8th at 2:02.71.
The 2nd night proved to be just as fruitful for Catholic as the first. Senior Guido Saccaggi managed to capture 3 of his four individual titles on the night starting with the 400-individual medley. The time of 4:09.61 earned the Duluth, Georgia native his fourth consecutive title in the event.
Saccagi was not the only swimmer to dominate in the event and Catholic swimmers earned third, fourth, and fifth places respectively. In order: junior Peter Bajorek with a time of 4:15.61, senior Tyler Hammett finished at 4:19.12, and freshman Kevin Jay came in less than a half second behind at 4:15.55.
Later in the evening, Saccagi grabbed his second victory on the night with a time of 53.05 in the 100-yard backstroke. Haas (54.32), Crafa (54.51), Nguyen (55.13), and fellow senior Ryan Nicklous (54.64) all competed in the final flight, but narrowly missed the podium.
Saccaggi’s final win was a team effort, as it came in the team’s title defense of the 800-free relay. The senior combined with Haas, Bajorek, and Hicks for a winning time of 7:05.47.
Hicks also earned himself a bronze in the 200-freestyle later in the night, completing the event in 1:45:03, while junior Patrick Jones finished in eighth (1:48.97).
In the final events of the meet, Soraghen set his second school record with a score of 384.35 in the preliminaries of the 1-meter diving event. He would earn a second-place finish, with a final score of 367.35. McInerney finished in fourth place once again, placing a final score of 225.40.
In the final day of competition, the Cardinals looked to finish strong and defend their first-place spot of 556 points. The team started the night strong, with Saccagi (1:54.68) earning his fourth and final victory in the 200-Backstroke. Nicklous took bronze in the race at 1:58.34, while Crafa (1:58.55) and Haas (1:58.68) took fourth and fifth narrowly behind the senior.
Sophomore David Lanetti took home a gold in the 1650-freestyle, completing the marathon in 16:43.88, while freshman Luke Nicholson finished seventh at 17:16.41.
In the much shorter 200-yard butterfly, Catholic earned yet another victory with Bajorek finishing in 1:55.70, only finishing one hundredth of a second faster than silver medalist Lanetti (1:55.71). Alberle (2:00.15) narrowly missed the podium, while teammates Nicholson (2:00.39) and Hammett (2:02.55).
In the final events of the tournament, CUA sealed their victory with authority. In the 100-freestyke, Cihak finished fourth at 48.13. In the 200-breastroke classmates Taylor (2:16.64) and Jay (2:20.15) came in fifth and tenth respectively.
The Landmark Championships capped off a dominant season for the Cards, whose members earned plenty of individual honors as well. Head Coach Paul Waas earned Men’s Coach of the Year for the conference, while fellow coaches Drew Peterson and Meaghan Abelein were also honored following the meet. Saccaggi also earned a plethora of honors in his final meet, becoming the only male swimmer in Conference to earn both Rookie of the Year and Swimmer of the Year his senior year. He finished his career as a 12-time Landmark Conference, and as a member of the All-Landmark team. Bajorek, Cihak, Haas, Hicks, Isaacs, Lanetti, Nyugen, and Soraghen were also named to the All-landmark team