By MIKEY BARNES
The 2015-2016 season has brought another triumphant start to the season for the University of Mary Washington men’s and women’s swim programs. Arguably, the two most successful programs in school history have proven successful year in and year out, this season has proved no different. Coached by head coach Abby Brethauer and first year assistant Dalton Herendeen, the two programs are off to astounding starts to their seasons.
The UMW women’s swimming program, who has won 25 consecutive conference championships is predicted and on pace to make it 26 this season. The program is currently 9-0 and ranked 24th in Division III, and at one point were ranked as high as 12th, while also being ranked in top spot of the CAC. Like often many successful programs in collegiate sports are, the UMW women’s swim team is led by a number of seniors as well as a good core of supportingcasts amongst the other classes. Senior Stephanie Hallock is a clear leader on this program, Hallock received CAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week earlier in the season and has continued her leadership and skillful swimming. In early December, junior Anna Corley was named CAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week for her success in the water and senior Ashley Walnut was named CAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week for this past week. These awards thus far into the season are miniscule to the success they have had and skill they have portrayed.
The Eagles opened up their season on a huge victory over the currently 14th ranked Washington and Lee Generals. The Eagles were led in that meet by Hallock, Corley, seniorsKatie Fago, Hannah Hagy and sophomore Megan Murphy. Sophomore Corries Presland-Byrne described the victory over the Generals as “insane” since the program had not beatenWashington and Lee in a number of years. Murphy said about the victory, “we stayed positive throughout the meet and it was awesome to beat them for the first time in awhile…it felt good to kick the season off with that kind of start.”
Before the winter break, the women’s swim program finished in second at Gettysburg Invitational with outstanding performances by Murphy, Corley, Faggo, Walnut and Hagy. Thewomen’s swim program wrapped up their home swim meets on Saturday January 16 against St. Mary’s (Md.), with a blowout victory of 157-47. The huge victory was a great sendoff for the seniors, to wrap up their collegiate swim meets at home in Goolrick pool. When asked what lead to their continuous success year in and out, Presland-Byrne credited the coaching staff and the work ethic that the team possesses.
The UMW men’s program is off to a very noteworthy start of a season themselves as they are fighting for their 19th consecutive CAC championship crown. Coming into this season, the men’s program has had to deal with the graduating of their star swimmer and formernational champion, Alex Anderson. Despite his departure, a senior heavy program has bonded together to lead this team to success. With six of their core swimmers all being seniors, the Eagles men’s swimming program is off to a 6-1 start, with their one loss coming in a meet where they were missing a few key swimmers. That one loss coming by the hands of Washington and Lee.
In that season opening meet, the Eagles broke out to an early advantage with a relay victory coming from senior Matt Garstka, sophomore Kenyon Huber-Wilker, senior Sean Mayer and junior Dallas Tarkenton. A strong performance from the relay team and double individual victories from Huber-Wilker proved not strong enough as they fell 160-102. The loss propelled the guys in the coming weeks, as they have gone 8-0 since and at one point finding themselves ranked 26th in the nation.
The Eagles proved their strength in a CAC opening victory against Frostburg St. in which they defeated CAC competitor 98-24 in Frostburg. The Eagles were led in that meet by Huber- Wilker, Garstka, Tarkenton and senior Vance Solseth. The seniors on the program wrapped their home collegiate careers up with a bang as well, as they defeated St. Mary’s (Md.) by a score of 147.5 to 55.5. The seniors on the program all had success in their final home meet notably Garstka and Zach Eisig, who both had multiple first place finishes. Garstka too credited the coaching staff on the great success the program has had this year and year’s past and also wanted it to be noted that CAC competitors keep an eye on Connor Nye at the CAC championships whom he described as a, “dark horse coming for blood.”
Garstka, Murphy, Presland-Byrne and the CAC leading programs will be back in action Saturday, Jan. 23 at Gettysburg.