Graham, McNamara Earn Major Honors as Vikings Post Strong Finishes at League Championships

Graham, McNamara Earn Major Honors as Vikings Post Strong Finishes at League Championships

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Head coach Paul Graham and junior Molly McNamara earned major honors as the Cleveland State University men's and women's swimming & diving programs both posted their best finishes in five years as the Horizon League Championships concluded Saturday inside the Robert F. Busbey Natatorium.

McNamara was named the Women's Swimming & Diving Athlete of the Year while Graham was named Women's Swimming Coach of the Year.

McNamara becomes just the second Viking to win Women's Athlete of the Year and the first since 2005. Graham, the men's Coach of the Year in 2016, becomes the first Cleveland State coach to win Women's Coach of the Year.

The CSU men took second place with 665.5 points, their highest point total since 2013. They trailed the top spot by 66 points, the closest margin of victory in the past five years.

The CSU women finished in third place with 586 points, only seven points out of second place. It was a two-place improvement from a year ago and a four-spot bump from two seasons ago. It was also their highest point total at the meet since 2013. The Viking women broke school records in three more events Saturday, which meant they topped prior program records in nine of 18 swimming events at the Championships.

McNamara finished a record-breaking week with an awe-inspiring performance. She won the 200 butterfly in 1:57.69, a new school and League Championship record. Her time was nearly two seconds under the NCAA 'B' standard. It was her second straight title in the 200 fly, and third of her career, making her the first Viking to win multiple Horizon League titles in this event.

McNamara broke school records in all three individual events she contested this week and was also part of the school records broken in the 200 and 400 medley relays.

For the second straight day, junior Cassandra Oltman broke a school record in a backstroke prelim. She broke the standard in the 200 back Saturday morning by swimming 2:02.80, a personal best of over 1.5 seconds. She finished sixth in 2:03.16.

Sophomore Madisyn Jaszcz won the consolation final in 2:03.30, beating her personal best by over five seconds. Her finals swim also topped the prior program record entering the day. Jaszcz was seeded 23rd entering the event.

Freshman Lexie Kostelnik broke the school record swimming in the early heats of the 1650 freestyle. She finished fifth in 17:03.03 and was the top finishing rookie in an event for the second time in this Championship.

Breaking school records was not limited to the women's team as freshman Dominik Niedzialek broke the 200 backstroke record on the men's side. He tied for second in 1:44.98, a B cut time and more than a full second under the previous school standard.

Freshman Timothy Kubacki finished fifth in that event in 1:47.65, a personal best by over three seconds. Senior Jonathan LaValle was eighth in 1:50.43.

Junior Jared Stergar joined Niedzialek in taking runner-up honors and a B qualifying mark. He was second in the 200 breaststroke in 1:59.26, a new personal best. Sophomore Tyler Stevenson was sixth in 2:01.66 after setting a new PR in prelims. Junior Addison Kaufmann won the consolation final in 2:01.93, beating his PR by over two seconds.

Three other Viking men took home bronze—sophomore DJ Arslanian, freshman Alec Bowie and junior Jason van der Touw.

Arslanian was third in the 200 fly in a personal best 1:48.18. Senior Grant Wethington was 14th (1:52.74) after resetting his personal best in the prelims.

Bowie was third in the 1650 in 15:33.19, less than three seconds from a NCAA qualifying standard. Junior Erwan Mahoudo was 16th in 16:08.53.

Van der Touw was third in the 100 freestyle in a personal best 44.64 seconds. Junior Sean Mulvin was 10th in a personal best 45.10 seconds and sophomore Jack MacDonald was 13th in a personal best 45.82.

Freshman Matt Akers was fourth in 3-meter diving, the top rookie on the podium. He finished with 315.45 points following his runner-up effort in the 1-meter event. He scored at least 54 points on four dives, with his best being a back 1.5 somersault 2.5 twist free. Junior Curtis Roden was 10th with 292.85 points.

Van der Touw, Arslanian, Stevenson and Mulvin finished second in the 400 free relay in 2:58.58.

The women's 400 free relay—sophomore Meghan Bobick, junior Claudia Zido, sophomore Gabriella Marinelli and senior Jamie VanDewerker—was also second in 3:24.03.

Marinelli and VanDewerker finished fourth and fifth in the 100 free in a personal best 50.87 seconds and 51.26. Zido was 13th in 51.48 seconds, a new personal best.

Redshirt senior Madisen Tretter finished fifth in the 200 breaststroke in 2:19.51, her best time in that event since missing the 2015-16 season.

A quartet of Vikings swam in the consolation final: freshman Libby Smith was 10th in 2:18.70, junior Morgan Massie was 12th in 2:20.53, freshman Gracyn McQueary was 15th in 2:22.68 and senior Tobie Zeller was 16th in 2:23.75. Smith beat her personal best by over six seconds while Massie reset her personal best in prelims.

Kubacki became the fourth fastest performer in the 200 back. Stergar became the second fastest performer in the 200 breaststroke. Bowie became the third fastest performer in the 1650 freestyle. Van der Touw and Mulvin became the fourth and eighth fastest performers in the 100 free. Zido moved into the top 10 performers in the 100 freestyle. Smith became the third fastest performer in the 200 breaststroke while McQueary moved into the top 10.

The numerous Vikings who surpassed NCAA 'B' standards this past week, or throughout the season, are eligible to advance to the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.