S&D teams take second at GLIAC meet

Lucas Rains

The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference may feature some of the best swimming and diving teams in all the NCAA Division II, but for the fourth consecutive season, one program stood above the rest.

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams finished as the runner-up once again, as the Warriors of Wayne State University won both titles at the four-day GLIAC Championship meet at the Spire Institute Sports Complex in Geneva, Ohio.

The No. 8 Warrior men racked up 1,015.5 points to outlast the No. 4 Laker men, who finished with 894.5 points. Meanwhile, the No. 3 women of Wayne State tallied 959 points to beat the No. 9 Laker women, who had 667.

“This was a good meet for us,” GVSU head coach Andy Boyce said. “We had really good relays, and school records were broken left and right. We’re looking forward to nationals now.”

Boyce said that senior Kyle Gunderson was the “swimmer of the meet” for his team, and that Gunderson swam faster than he’s ever gone before.

Gunderson placed second in the 200 yard fly, fourth in the 100 freestyle, and was a member of the 800 freestyle relay team which placed second.

Sophomore Gianni Ferrero broke GVSU school records in the 100 backstroke (47.76) and the 100 freestyle (44.67). He won the 200 freestyle event by setting a meet record time of 1:36.37.

Ferrero’s classmate, Patrick Sheppell, claimed two GLIAC Championships in both the 1000 freestyle (9:24.75) and 1650 freestyle (16:07.00).

The 200 freestyle relay team of seniors Michael Griffith and Erik Aakesson, junior Milan Medo and freshman Danny Abbot set a GLIAC meet record with a time of 1:21.34.

Senior Will Gombos had an impressive meet, and finished in the top eight in multiple events —setting personal bests in all of them.

“This team overall performed very well,” Gombos said. “We had a lot of top-eight performances, a lot of personal bests, a lot of school records.

“Finishing third in the mile was something I’ve never done before, which was special to do in my last race as a GV swimmer.”

The Laker women were just as successful, and managed to break a number of school records.

Junior Olivia Schultz tallied one of them when she finished third in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:52.51.

Schultz, seniors Danielle Vallier and Caitlyn Madsen teamed up with junior Sarah Roeser to touch the wall in a time of 3:44.39 in the 400 medley relay, which also broke a school record.

The same relay team broke another school record in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:27.62, while Vallier eclipsed the 200 freestyle record by clocking in at 1:52.27.

Sophomore Taylor Wiercinski placed second in both the 1 and 3 meter diving events to her strong season.

Boyce said he was impressed by Roeser’s performance, as she set personal bests and finished in the top eight for the Laker women in seven events.

“Almost everyone had lifetime bests,” she said. “We did amazingly. I’m very, very happy with how our team did.”

Her finishes were highlighted by the 50 yard freestyle, where her time of 23.65 broke a GVSU school record. She was also a part of three record-breaking relays.

It was the first time the GLIAC Championship meet used a four-day format, which was definitely a challenge to the swimmers.

“It’s different than anything we’ve ever done in the conference,” Boyce said. “The training has helped with that. We did a great job going faster in the finals than we did in the morning.

“That was great to see, and the team had a lot of fun.”

GVSU is now focused on nationals, as many swimmers await their national-qualifying fates. Other Division II conference meets will help determine who makes it and who doesn’t.

The NCAA Division II National Championships will begin March 11 in the same pool.