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Swimming & Diving
Arc of divers key to Devils' ascent in 2006-07
FREDONIA, N.Y. -- The ascent of the swimming and diving program continues heading into the start of the 2006-07 season.
The Blue Devils meet Morrisville at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Steele Hall Natatorium, the first of five home meets on the schedule.
Should the season go according to plan, both men's and women's teams will be moving up the standings when the SUNYAC Championships roll around Feb. 7 through Feb. 10. The women were fifth, the men eighth, at the 2006 meet.
"I'm extremely excited to get the season underway," said head coach Arthur Wang, now in his fourth season at the helm. "This is the first time since being here in Fredonia that I feel as though we can compete with all of our opponents this season."
Wang points to talent and depth as upgrades from seasons past. Those attributes are evident -- but not limited to -- the divers on this year's team. Both teams return SUNYAC champs, albeit from different seasons.
Sophomore Kelly Sponholz (Alden/Alden) made a splash last season by posting a 22-0 record in all competitions, including titles off both boards at the SUNYAC meet. She qualified for the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships are proceeded to earn honorable mention All-American status in the two springboard events.
Her performance was nearly matched two years earlier by then-freshman Scott Horsington (Rochester/Churchville-Chili), who returns to the squad this season. Horsington was 22-0, won both SUNYAC titles in 2004, and appeared NCAA-bound but for an academic commitment which kept him from participating. He will be joined on the boards by freshman Christian Torres (Dunkirk/Dunkirk), giving the Blue Devils two male divers after two straight seasons with none.
Sponholz will also have accompaniment. Prior to last season, Teresa MacInness (Tonawanda/Kenmore East) held the Fredonia State women's diving records. Now a junior, she was second in 3-meter diving and fifth in 1-meter at last year's SUNYAC meet. In addition, senior Kelly Maloney (Corning/Corning-Painted Post West), fourth in the 3-meter last year, and senior Laura Walther (Livonia/Livonia), another solid scorer, return.
The Blue Devil divers are coached by former men's head coach John Crawford.
In the pool, the Blue Devil women return several student-athletes who posted school-record swims last season. junior Lexie Chapman (Lockport/Lockport) appears on the record board in 10 places, senior Cassie Austin (Cuba/Cuba-Rushford) in seven places, sophomore Liz Mirt (Rochester/Aquinas) six places, sophomore Emily Dizer (Tonawanda/Sweet Home) three, and senior Ashley Vogl (Springville/Griffith Institute) and junior Stacy Krens (Brockport/Brockport) two each. Wang said freshmen Monica Dunlevy (Batavia/Batavia) and Taylor Kelly (Wading River/Shoreham-Wading River) will add depth to the team.
As a whole, the women will look to improve on a 7-5 meet record. It was the first winning season in the five years the team has existed.
"All freshmen women," Wang said, "will be solid contibutors this season as we expect to break several more records."
The men were 3-9 last season but will be bolstered this season by a large recruiting class. Among the newcomers is junior backstroker Brian Towey (Buffalo/St. Joe's Collegiate), a transfer from Niagara University. Other key recruits are freshmen Alex Palmquist (Olean/Olean), Noor El-Tahawy (Port Washington/Schreiber), Scott Simpson (Allegany/Allegany-Limestone), Brent Davis (Albion/Albion), Dan Dayton (East Aurora/East Aurora), and Erich Waldorf (Clarence/Clarence).
The team will look toward Chris Oaks (Macedon/Palmyra-Macedon), a graduate student with senior eligibility, for leadership and performance. Oaks has consistently scored for the Blue Devils over his three seasons.
"We have great depth and talent from top to bottom," Wang said of both men's and women's teams.