On Saturday, Ramapo’s swimming team hosted NJAC rival Rowan in a conference meet. But for seniors Brenna Salazar, Brenda Slazyk, Andrew English, Alex Krueger, Frank Patierno, Kyle Plucinsky, Geoff Richter and Robert Stein, it was the last time they would have a home meet at Ramapo’s Adele and Ruben Thomas swimming pool.
Before the meet, coaches Garry Orr and David Nehls, Athletic Director Chuck Gordon, and the parents, friends and teammates of the eight seniors honored the graduating swimmers for their hard work and dedication over the past four years.
“It is definitely a bittersweet feeling. I have grown so much as a swimmer and as a person in this pool,” said Plucinsky, who placed third in the 100-meter breast stroke event with a time of 1:03.04.
Both the men and women fell to Rowan, 106-142 and 98-163, respectively. Despite the scores, the teams were still able to rack up a number of first, second and third places throughout the meet.
For the men, sophomore Phillip Sokoloff took first in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 55.57. The 200-yard medley relay team of Sokoloff, Patierno, Richter and sophomore Anthony Cusmano finished in second place with a time of 1:41.28. Freshman Pete Kellner took home second in the 200-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:48.95, followed by a first-place finish in the 500-freestyle with a time of 5:01.25.
Stein finished second in front of Plucinsky in the 100-yard breaststroke. Stein later placed first in the 200-yard breast stroke with a time of 2:16.83. With these times, which have been improving each meet, Orr said he is looking forward to competing in the upcoming Metropolitan Championships at Rutgers University from Feb. 15 to 17.
“We’re primed for our best times and our highest finish at the Met Championships,” Orr said. “We’re hoping we’re going to crack and be fourth this year and be behind TCNJ, Rowan and Bridgeport. We hope to set many team records and qualify several guys for the NCAAs.”
The women tallied several top-three finishes as well. Sophomore Kylie Suydam took home second in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 11:53.75. Other second-place finishes included Slazyk in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.64), sophomore Jamie Stein in the 200 butterfly (2:26.18), freshman Megan Fosko in the 200 breaststroke (2:40.69) and sophomore Maggie Nagle with a time of 2:28.17 in the 200 Individual Medley.
First-place finishes included Slazyk in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:03.10 and sophomore Lauren Keller, who took home first place in all three of her individual events (200 freestyle, 1:59.59; 50 freestyle, 25.26; and 100 freestyle, 55.04). After winning these three races, Keller ends her conference season undefeated in individual events.
“I really contribute my success this season to my coaches Dave and Coach Orr, and my own mindset,” said Keller. “This year I was more mentally prepared for what was going to happen. Coach even said it himself; he feels like I’ve grown up since the little emotional freshman I was last year to a leader on the girls team this year, which is actually the greatest compliment.”
Keller hopes to carry her success to the upcoming Metropolitan Championships.
“I stand in a position where qualifying for NCAAs is a very real possibility, and I don’t want to let that slip away,” she added.
In addition to celebrating Senior Day, the Roadrunners also swam for Multiple Sclerosis through an organization called The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSSA), which they have helped raise money and awareness for this season. At Saturday’s meet, Amanda Bednar, the community relations manager for the organization, which is located in Cherry Hill, N.J., set up a table outside of the pool accepting donations and handing out brochures with information.
“We have a mission of enriching the quality of life for everyone affected by MS through our vital programs and services,” Bednar said. “Swim for MS, the program that Ramapo is participating in, helps MSSA fulfill that mission by helping to raise much needed funds for the MS community and the free programs and services that MSSA provides.”
There was also a laptop set up where you could view the video made by Ramapo’s swim team to show their support for the organization. You can view the video here: http://www.youtube.com/msaa.