By Jamison Schroeder
It has been an up and down sort of season for the Cleveland State University men’s and women’s swimming team. Both teams have struggled during the season with the men going 2-4, while the women didn’t record a single win on the season.
The Horizon League Championships took place from Feb. 19-23, and the Vikings were in the hunt for the team title all four days. The first day of the championships consisted of 11 events and was shorter than the other three days. The end of the first day saw the men’s team starting off in second and the women’s team in fourth. In the first event for the men’s 200-yard relay team of junior Dominik Niedzialek, sophomore Jack Krusinski and seniors DJ Arslanian and Jack MacDonald became the third-fastest team in the program’s history, finishing with a time of 1:27.30.
The women’s team highlight came in the form of freshman Emma Kerro in the 3-meter dive. Kerro, who finished in third place in her league championship debut, was one of two divers to manage at least 40 points on every one of her dives.
Day two of the championships brought increased success for both teams. The men’s team was able to maintain second place while the women’s team managed to join them in second place. Both teams would remain in these spots for the rest of the championship. Senior Dominic Poletta was the first male in the championships to pass an NCAA ‘B’ cut time in the victory he held in the 50-yard freestyle. With a time of 19.71 seconds, this marked Poletta’s personal best and made him the second-fastest swimmer in the event in Cleveland State’s swimming history. Junior Timothy Kubacki made more Cleveland State history when he became the first Viking to win the 200-yard individual medley in 10 years. Kubacki was the first Viking to win a title, and he did it in an exciting fashion, as he won by .06 seconds. The women’s relay team finished their race ahead of their seed as senior Lauren Frank, freshmen Abby Allison, junior Irena Weclawiak and senior Madi Jaszcz took third in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:33.94.
Day three marked another three individual titles for the men’s team. Kubacki won his second title of the championships and also became the first Viking in over 25 years to sweep the individual medley events. Poletta also won his second individual title in the 100-yard butterfly. Niedzialek joined his teammates atop the podium, as he was able to beat his University of Oakland opponent in the 100-yard backstroke, winning by .01 seconds.
The women’s team had three swimmers in the top seven during the 100-yard breaststroke, as juniors Alana Cartwright, Libby Smith and Gracyn McQueary took fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. The women’s team also outraced their seed as they finished in second in the 400-yard individual medley relay with senior Chuchu Yang, Cartwright, junior Shaw Barney and senior Gabriella Marinelli finishing in 3:46.28.
The final day of the championships meant it was all or nothing as both teams tried to break through and win the championships. The men’s team saw Poletta barely miss getting a third individual title, coming in third in the 100-yard freestyle. The women’s relay team again managed to outrace their seed in the 400-yard freestyle relay as Weclawiak, Marinelli, Frank and Jaszcz finished in 3:25.09, making them the fifth-fastest quartet in program history.
The Vikings, despite having very little success in the regular season, came through when it mattered most as both teams claimed second place in the championships. Cleveland State will host the National Invitational Championship from March 12-14.