Senior swimmers earn four of 12 wins on Senior Day

Category:  Sports
Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 5:25 PM

Seniors Casey Tokarski and Marcus Grosso delivered Edinboro wins on the night they were honored as part of Senior Day. Despite the veterans leading the way, though, both teams failed to earn overall victories during the meet Friday at home against Clarion University.

Tokarski, Grosso and Nathan Spaid were celebrated before the meet, as they were given flowers and gifts, along with being joined by their families on the pool deck.

Tokarski hit the water first for ‘Boro, leading her team of Yana Miletska, Kaitlyn Daiger and Katelyn Kopacko to a win in the women’s 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 50.16 seconds.

Head Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach Chris Rhodes praised the women’s quartet for their performance in the final meet of the season.

“Our girls [200] medley has been great all year for us, and I know that’s an event that I am excited about,” he said. “I know that’s an event that they are excited about to see what we can do at the conference meet.”

The men followed with a win from Michael Kocher, Nick Bradford, Jack Bangert and Thomas Horan in their version of the event with a time of 1:40.02. In the next men’s event, Dankle added to Edinboro’s early lead with a 10:41.53 win in the 1,000-yard freestyle.

After Clarion scored the first two finishers of the women’s 200 free, Edinboro’s Gabby LaBovick finished in a tie for third with the Golden Eagles’ Kaitlynn Henninge at 2:03.21. LaBovick would later earn a PSAC-qualifying time of 55.91 seconds in the 100 freestyle.

Grosso finished in second place, less than a second behind the winner, in the men’s 200 free during his first event of the night.

Edinboro then won the next four events as Kopacko and Horan won their respective versions of the 50 freestyle, and Miletska and Kocher won their 200 individual medley events. The women’s 50 freestyle, meanwhile, was notable for having three Edinboro swimmers — Kopacko, Kadlecik and Rachel Roscoe — earn PSAC qualifying times, with Kopacko’s time also qualifying as an NCAA-B time. Miletska’s 2:12.90 in the 200 IM was a PSAC qualifying time, as well.

The Fighting Scots failed to win again until Grosso celebrated his Senior Day with a 47.71-second win in the 100 free. In the next event, Tokarski placed second in the 100 backstroke.

“Casey did a great job. Her backstroke is really coming along and she is definitely going to be, I think, one of the top backstrokers of the conference,” Rhodes said of the senior. “Marcus is really coming along great with his freestyle. We’re working on a bunch of different things with him, and he is really kind of starting to grasp some of the concepts and it’s really showing in his swims.”

Kocher followed with a win in the men’s version of the race with a time of 55.34 seconds. With a victory in the 200 IM three events prior, Kocher finished the night with three wins. Dankle earned the final win for the men in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:09.21.

Rhodes praised the determination of the men’s team, who came into the season with a smaller than average roster. The 2018-19 squad consists of nine men — down from 17 last season — who participated in 12 events Friday.

“With the guys, we are holding our own,” he said. “We are right up there with a lot of the teams, and I think that’s the exciting thing – that we can kind of continue that success into the conference meet.”

In the final men’s event that counted for team points, the group of Grosso, Horan, Bangert and Bradford finished second in 1:27.42 in the men’s 200 free relay. The short-staffed men’s team lost 103-91 overall.

Spaid, the oldest competitor at 22 years old, ended the meet with a 200 butterfly exhibition event that saw him compete alone. Rhodes praised Spaid for his team leadership and the camaraderie he helps build with his teammates.

“His leadership has really stood out as something that I think needs to be recognized,” he said. “He has done a really good job.”

The women finished their night off with two wins in the final two women’s events. Miletska finished the 100 breaststroke in a PSAC-qualifying 1:08.63 to take the top spot before Tokarski led another women’s relay team to a win. In the 200 freestyle relay, Tokarski was followed by Daiger, Nicole Kadlecik and Kopacko to win with a time of 1:39.47. Despite strong finishes at the beginning and end of the meet, the women fell 122.5-82.5.

A small roster has also challenged the women’s side this season. They have 12 competitors on their roster, which is a drop from 16 last year.

“Our motto pretty much this year is ‘small team, big heart,’ and the big heart definitely comes through and really shows up and kind of takes over the numbers, I guess you could say,” Rhodes said of his squads.

The teams have almost four weeks off to prepare for the conference meet, taking place from Feb. 20-23. Rhodes said the team has shown signs of fatigue, but are in a good position heading into the stretch run.

“We raced really well – we raced hard. But we are really tired, so they need to have rest to bring the races back a little better,” he said. “I think that we are right on track to where we need to be to have some really good swims.”

Christopher Rosato Jr. | sports.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: swim, senior day

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