By Ben Hercik
The Cleveland State men’s and women’s swim teams hosted the seventh annual Magnus Cup during the weekend of Nov. 16-18. The men’s team was able to claim the team championship where they finished with a team score of 1871.5 points. They finished a whole 543.5 points clear of second place.
When asked about the point spread, the swim team’s head coach Paul Graham said that it was thanks to the hard work the team put in during the offseason.
“The points scored was just an indication of the work that they have put in during the fall,” Graham said. “It was a total team effort, and the team is what benefits when all contribute.”
One of the standouts was junior Dominic Poletta, who won two individual events. Poletta won the men’s 50-yard freestyle over 59 other competitors. He also won the 50-yard butterfly, beating freshman teammate Bob Lenart, who took third in the event.
Sophomore Dominik Niedzialek also won two events at the tournament, taking home first in both the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke. Among many great showings was freshman Jack Krusinski finishing second in the 50-yard backstroke, as well as both senior Jason van der Touw and junior DJ Arlsanian, who placed second and third, respectively, in the 100-yard freestyle.
When asked about the dominant team victory, senior Chad Wright said that it’s a good measuring stick for where the team is at.
“Magnus Cup is always a great chance to see where we are as a team in the middle of the season,” Wright said. “I think this year, it really showed us how deep our team is. In years past, we have always had individual standouts but this year we have great depth which gives us a shot at ending Oakland’s long conference winning streak.”
The women’s team was able to finish fifth out of 16 teams with a total of 649.5 points. This was the third time in three years that the team finished in the top half overall of teams that were at the event. Sophomore Alexis Kostelnik was able to break her own school record for the women’s 1650-yard freestyle, posting a time of 17:03:00. This helped her finish third in the finals, despite going into the finals ranked as the ninth fastest swimmer in the event.
Other standouts on the women’s team were senior Molly McNamara and sophomore Alana Cartwright. McNamara, who holds the school and meet records in the 200-yard butterfly, won the same event for the third consecutive year by beating second place by just under a second. Cartwright finished second in both the 100-yard individual medley and the 50-yard backstroke. Cartwright also tied for third in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Despite the women’s team coming up short, Graham was happy with the showing considering the tough competition they faced in the meet.
“The women’s meet was top class competition,” Graham said. “There were two conference champions there, in the University of Akron and Duquesne University, along with many other quality Division I teams. One of the things I love about our women’s team is the depth that we are developing. Once again, when all contribute, we are a good team.”
The Magnus Cup is the unofficial midpoint of the season for the Vikings. The success at this meet was important as the focus now shifts to the Horizon League Conference meets against University of Chicago-Illinois, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and Oakland University.
Graham believes that improvement from both teams at the Magnus Cup was important.
“We use every competition to gather information on how to get better,” Graham said. “This was an invaluable opportunity to get great info and work on improving for the end of the season.”
Last year at the Horizon League Championships, the men’s team finished second behind a prominent powerhouse of the Horizon League swimming, Oakland University, by only 66 points. There are hopes to finish higher in the team standings this year.
For the men, Poletta, who transferred in from Wright State University, is the returning Horizon League champion in the 50-yard freestyle. Niedzialek is also a returning top three placer in three different events. Niedzialek, as well as Van Der Touw, are two members of the returning 800-yard freestyle relay along with junior Erwan Mahoudo and senior Sean Mulvin.
Wright feels confident in the men’s chances after coming up just short last year, thanks to the additions the team made prior to this season.
“The finish last year definitely helped motivate us this year,” Wright said. “Seeing how close we came and how we stacked up gave us the belief that the championship could be possible this year. That belief, coupled with the swimmers we brought in through recruiting and transfers, gives us a legit chance at the title.”
The women’s team came in third last year and were just seven points shy of second place. McNamara is the returning Horizon League champion in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly. Kostelnik is the returning third place finisher in the 500-yard freestyle.
Joining both of them as returning swimmers who were high place finishers at the Horizon League, are all four ladies from the women’s 800-yard freestyle relay. Sophomore Irena Weclawiak, juniors Meghan Boblick and Gabriella Marinelli and senior Claudia Zido, are all back after a third place showing at last season’s tournament.
Graham is also confident in both teams’ chances at the Horizon League Championships. Graham thinks that, with the challenges this season, both teams are poised for a run at the conference championship.
“I love the path that both teams are taking this season,” Graham said. “We have challenged more than ever before, and they are continuing to get better. If we continue on this path, both teams will do well at the Horizon League Championships.”