WINTHROP, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph swimming & diving team was picked to finish tied for sixth in the 2017 GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Prechampionship Coaches' Poll that was announced on Thursday afternoon by the league's front office. The annual poll is voted upon by the conference's eight head coaches. The GNAC championship meet is set to take place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday at the Holmes Sports Center Natatorium on the campus of Simmons College. Prelims will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with the finals to follow at 6 p.m., while prelims will kickoff at 10 a.m. on Sunday with the finals to begin at 5 p.m.
The 13-time defending GNAC women's swimming & diving champions and meet hosts, Simmons College, were unanimously selected to defend their dynasty by headlining the poll with 64 points and all eight first-place votes. Regis (Mass.) was picked to finish second with 56 points followed by Colby-Sawyer (48), Norwich (34), and Husson (27) to round out the top five. USJ claimed a share of sixth place in the voting with Saint Joseph's College of Maine as both team were awarded 20 points and slotted ahead of Elms, who rounded out the poll with 19.
The Blue Jays finished sixth out of seven teams last season at the 2016 GNAC championships, racking up 303 points as a team and were just 52 points behind Husson for fifth place. Rising juniors, Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, Conn.) and Veronika Latawiec (Newington, Conn.), led the way for the Blue Jays at the championship meet scoring 54 points and 47 points, respectively, on the weekend. USJ 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 rising junior Gabriella Alberino (East Haven, Conn.) 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 turning in a time of 1:14.64.
Saint Joseph is off to a great start to the 2017-18 swimming & diving season as they are undefeated in dual meet action, posting victories over Rhode Island College and Western Connecticut. The five USJ captains, Latawiec, Masayda, Alberino, senior Olivia Kajda (Katowice, Poldand), and junior Richelle DiFronzo (Naugatuck, Conn.) will look to lead the Blue Jays to a top-five finish this season.
2017 GNAC Women's Swimming & Diving Prechampionship Poll
1. Simmons (8) - 64
2. Regis - 56
3. Colby-Sawyer - 48
4. Norwich - 34
5. Husson - 27
T6. USJ (Conn.) - 20
T6. Saint Joseph's (Maine) - 20
8. Elms - 19
About the GNAC
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 17 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.