BOSTON, Mass. – The University of Saint Joseph swimming and diving team racked up 303 total points to finish sixth at the 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championships this past weekend hosted by Simmons College at the Holmes Sports Center Natatorium. Sophomores Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, CT) and Veronika Latawiec (Newington, CT) led the way for the Blue Jays at the championship meet scoring 54 points and 47 points, respectively, on the weekend.
Simmons College captured the title winning its 13th consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship and 15th in the last 16 years. The Sharks scored 1124 points for the victory, while Regis College claimed the runner-up spot with 541 points. Norwich tallied 435 points to place third and Saint Joseph's College (Maine) finished fourth with 384. Husson University placed fifth with 365 points, while USJ racked up 303 points to finish sixth, ahead of Elms College, which scored 251 points.
The Blue Jays had eight different swimmers qualify to compete in a final of their respective event, including five who qualified to compete in multiple finals. Masayda, Latawiec and sophomore Gabriella Alberino (East Haven, CT) paced the way with four finals appearances each. Masayda recorded the best overall individual finish with a third place result in the 100 yard breaststroke.
On the weekend, four Blue Jay swimmers combined to post 13 New England Championship qualifying times and six swimmers who were in finals heats combined to tally nine personal-best marks. Latawiec recorded four New England 'A' cut times, while Masayda registered three 'A' cut and one 'B' cut marks. Alberino swam to a pair of 'A' cut and 'B' cut times and senior Raelynne Andrews (Bristol, CT) logged one 'B' cut time.
Latawiec swam in the first final for USJ at the meet in the 200 IM 'B' final finishing ninth with a New England 'A' cut time of 2:28.77. Masayda and Alberino then both competed in the 'B' final of the 50 free with respective New England 'B' cut times of 27.87 and 28.17 to finish in 10th and 12th position.
Senior Lillian McKenzie (Rocky Hill, CT) and junior Olivia Kajda (Katowice, Poland) were the next duo to swim in a finals heat. The pair contested in the 100 butterfly 'B' final with McKenzie touching the wall 11th overall with a career-best time of 1:16.14 and Kajda finishing 15th with a time of 1:36.30.
In the 100 breaststroke, Masayda captured the best individual finish at the meet for USJ, swimming to a spot on the podium and bronze medal with a New England 'A' cut time of 1:14.64. Andrews also competed in the 100 breast, but in the 'B' final and secured a new collegiate-best mark of 1:23.46 on her way to a 13th place finish.
A trio of Blue Jays swam in the 'B' final of the 50 butterfly. Alberino led the way and posted a 10th place finish with a 'B' cut qualifying time of 31.52, while McKenzie finished 14th touching the wall at 33.69 and freshman Taylor Houghtaling was right behind her in 15th with a personal-best time of 37.58.
Latawiec qualified for her second final in the 200 backstroke, this time an 'A'final, and recorded an eight place finish with a New England 'A' cut qualifying time of 2:27.11. In the same event, rookie Leah Verrillo (Cheshire, CT) competed in the 'B' final and finished 14th with a time of 2:50.82.
Masayda and Andrews continued to excel in the breaststroke as they each swam in a final of the 50 breast. Masayda finished fourth overall in the 'A' final with a New England 'A' cut qualifying time of 34.57. Andrews was in the 'B' final finishing 11th with a 'B' cut and personal-best time of 37.91.
Latawiec and Verrillo repeated their performances from the 200 backstroke in the 100 backstroke. Latawiec improved and finished sixth in the 100 back 'A' final with an 'A'cut time of 1:07.23, while Verrillo logged a career-best time of 1:18.82 in the 'B' final to finish 16th overall.
Alberino was the lone Blue Jay to contest in a 100 free final and recorded a 13th place result after touching the wall with a New England 'A' cut and collegiate-best time of 1:00.49.
Masayda capped of her impressive individual performance at the championships with a fifth place finish in the 200 breaststroke 'A' final. The sophomore swam a career-best time and New England 'A' cut qualifying time of 2:47.46 to earn the finish.
In the final individual swimming event, the 50 backstroke, Latawiec and Alberino represented USJ in the finals. In the 'A' final, Latawiec posted a fifth place finish with a time of 31.47 and in the 'B' final Alberino swam to a new personal-best time of 33.48 to place 10th.
The Blue Jays best result in the relays came in the 200 medley relay. The team of Lataweic, Masayda, Alberino and Houghtaling combined to finish with a time of 2:03.38 to capture a spot on the podium in third place.
From the diving board, senior Luz Holmes (East Hartford, CT) shattered the school record from the 3-meter board with a score of 270.90 across six dives to finish second. The previous best mark was also held by Holmes from the 3-meter board which she set last season at 170.85. On the 1-meter board Holmes turned in a third place finish after tallying a score of 134.45.
The University of Saint Joseph swimming and diving team will be off now until after the New Year and will return to action next with its Winter Training Trip in Deerfield Beach, FL from Jan. 4-11.