Contact: Jeff Sattora
CHICAGO- After four long days of grueling swimming and back and forth action the Cleveland State Vikings' men's swimming and diving team walked away victorious Saturday night, winning the 2013 Horizon League Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Vikings battled all week long and ended the meet with 800.5 points, holding off second place Milwaukee (754) and third place UIC (705) as CSU's closest competition. The victory for the Vikings was the squad's first league title since the 2005-06 season.
For CSU Head Coach Wally Morton, who was also named the 2013 Horizon League Men's `Coach of the Year,' the win was a total team effort all day long.
"Often where we win these meets is in the preliminaries in the morning," Morton said. "You've got to get in the finals and then you've got to step it up."
With a 529.5-486 lead over Milwaukee heading into Saturday's final day, the Vikings knew they would need to step it up for the win, and that's exactly what they did.
Redshirt senior Mark De Swardt, the 2013 Male `Swimmer of the Meet' for the Championships, started the final day strong for the Viking men, taking home the first of their individual wins Saturday in the 1,650 freestyle in 15:36.44. De Swardt's seven second victory was the 11th victory of his career at the Horizon League Championships, and second win this week.
Junior Al Shillito, the 2013 Horizon League Male `Athlete of the Year,' then equaled De Swart with his second individual win at this year's Championships, taking home first place in the 200-yard backstroke (1:46.35). Shillito also individually won the 100 backstroke last night. Freshman Adam Ingledew (1:49.14) and junior Ryan Blankenship (1:51.28) also swam in the 200 back for CSU, placing fourth and eighth respectively in the finals.
The Vikings' third win of the day may have been the squad's most impressive Saturday, as sophomore Nathan Grant not only won the 200 breaststroke (2:00.34), but he also set new school, league, and Horizon League Championship records in the process with the time. Grant broke the Vikings' previous school record of 2:00.43 set in 2007.
Brian Ferro followed Grant in the breaststroke, finishing second in a time of 2:00.72.
Junior Justin Kermack was CSU's fourth winner on day four in Chicago, as he took home first place in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:47.51.
While CSU did not take home winners in any other events Saturday, multiple Vikings were finalists for a balanced team effort.
One of those events where CSU was most balanced was the 100 freestyle, with four finalists in the top seven in the event, placing second, third, sixth, and seventh. Two seniors led the way in the event as Berry Thompson (45.01) and Justin Hill (45.08) placed second and third. Finishing sixth and seventh for CSU in the event was Adam Ingledew (45.44) and Alex Lewis (45.45).
The second to last event for the men on the night was the 3-meter dive, which saw two Cleveland State freshman score and place. Classmates Danny Roberts (317.85) and Steve Schillero (302.00) closed two stellar freshman seasons in the event, placing fourth and fifth respectively for the Vikings.
Heading into the night's final event Cleveland State held a 44.5 point lead over second place Milwaukee, and a closing second place finish in the 400 freestyle relay by Justin Hill, Alex Lewis, Berry Thompson, and Al Shillito in a time of 2:59.26 was enough to hold on in the standings and give the Vikings the Championship win.
As the meet came to a close and CSU was crowned champions, Morton could not have been prouder of how they performed.
"I'm just so proud of everyone's accomplishments," he said. "There were some outstanding performances throughout the meet. It took a total team effort, everyone stepped up."
Men's Standings (Final)
1. Cleveland State- 800.5
2. Milwaukee- 754
3. UIC- 705
4. Green Bay- 533.5
5. Wright State- 445
6. Valparaiso- 166