COMMERCE, CA. – For the first time in Pomona-Pitzer history, the Sagehens men swimming and diving program won the 2018 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. After building a remarkable lead after day 3, the Sagehens refused to grow complacent and went on to excel for the rest of the meet, taking first place in three events to seal the deal for a grand total of 1086.50 points.
"We made a lot of good choices all year with our preparation and training," said Head Coach Jean-Paul Gowdy after the meet. "A performance like this is a culmination of a lot of things. As a coach it's nice to see this all come together."
After the meet, Mark Hallman was named SCIAC Male Athlete of the Year and Lukas Menkhoff was named SCIAC Newcomer of the Year.
"It's really nice to get recognized for my efforts. It feels awesome," said Hallman. "I wish that every single guy on our team could win athlete of the year because they all worked just as hard as me, putting their heart and soul into this team."
The Sagehens did not reach their desired results after the 1650 Yard Freestyle, as Zachary Senator was the top finisher for the Sagehens at seventh with a time of 16:13.98. Jack Swanson followed in eighth with a time of 16:18.89 and Spencer Satz crossed in 12th at 16:41.86.
Liam O'Shea crossed in first in the 200 Backstroke, clocking in at 1:48.04 to set the new Sagehens record. He also earned 22 points and made the NCAA B Cut. His teammate Nikhil Kundu crossed in third with a time of 1:51.42 to earn 18 points and Erik Garcia took seventh at 1:53.28. Peter Hansen finished in 16th at 1:56.19 for three points.
Menkhoff glided to a top finish in the 100 Freestyle, clocking in at 44.16 to set the new SCIAC meet and Sagehens record while Mark Hallman took second at 44.73. They combined for 41 points and made the NCAA B Cut. Adrian Hui finished in 11th at 46.58 to earn eight points for the Hens while Ryan Franzese took 16th at 47.02.
Nathan Hahn finished right outside of the podium spot, taking fourth in the 200 Breaststroke with a time of 2:04.22. He set the new Sagehens record and made the NCAA B cut. In 12th, Kyle Allison crossed at 2:11.92.
Over in the 200 Butterfly, Will Abele finished outside the top-3, taking fourth at 1:51.47, setting the new Sagehens record. Greg Havton took ninth at 1:55.19 and Coleton Brubaker took 13th at 1:55.47. Alexander Landau crossed in 16th at 1:57.97.
The Sagehens closed the night out in historic fashion as a team of Menkhoff, Samuel To, Ryan Drover, and Hallman won the 400 Freestyle Relay at 2:59.65, being the only team in the race to go under three minutes and setting the new SCIAC Meet, Open, and school record. Their time beat the NCAA B cut. The "B" team featuring Spencer Satz, Rusznak, Satz, and Peter Hansen took 15th at 3:12.54.
All in all, it was a complete team effort as every swimmer in the program scored the much-needed points to help the Sagehens win the conference for the first time since their formation.
"Our senior men took it upon themselves to lead this group," said Coach Gowdy after the race. "They were on a mission all year and as coaches we just sort of guided and kept them between the buoys. It's a testament to their leadership as to why we performed so well."
Up Next: The Sagehens will compete in the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana on Wednesday, March 21 to Saturday, March 24.