Oct. 4, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army swimming and diving teams open the 2012-13 campaign on Friday, Oct. 5, when the Black Knights host a quad-meet versus Boston College, Rowan and Vermont (women only). The lid-lifter is slated to get under way from Crandall Pool beginning at 5 p.m.
2012-13 SEASON OUTLOOK
Optimism abounds as the Army men's and women's swimming and diving teams prepare to embark upon their 2012-13 campaign. Both squads placed within the top half of the conference at last season's Patriot League Championships with the men finishing third and the women taking fourth. The teams will look to improve on those finishes when they cap the 2012-13 season at the conference meet in late February.
Army head coach Mickey Wender, who is set to begin his seventh season at West Point, is pleased with the direction of both programs.
"We've taken the largest step forward with our women this year than any of the previous seasons that I've been here," said Wender. "I'm really excited about the talent that we have in the water and the effort that we've seen in practice every day. Their attitude is simply tremendous. The culture of that group is better than any group that I've coached since I've been here. Combine that with the talent, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun this season.
"Our upperclass leadership has been tremendous from our captain on down. There is a real sense of purpose and direction and meaning with regards to the women's team. Lara has been great for our team this year. She has really embraced her role as captain, and is already a very good leader for us."
The Army men return four All-Patriot League performers to this year's team with Ayman Andrews (first team), Chris Nguyen (first team), Will Viana (second team) and Zachary Woods (second team) earning the honors last season.
Team captains Dan Foky and Daniel Ruckman will help lead the Black Knights into the upcoming season.
"This men's team is a little different," said Wender. "There's an excitement about it and an expectation level that has been a lot of fun to be around every day. It comes from the top down, but there is a sense of purpose and commitment even among our plebes.
"Our training has been better than it was a year ago because of the way that our whole team has approached it every day," added Wender. "We're a little bit more open, receptive and focused than we have been in the past. I think everyone on the team understands their role, and they really want to do everything they can to serve the team. It's been a fun group to work with so far."
The Black Knight women bring back several key contributors to last year's team, which turned in its best finish at Patriots since taking fourth in 2007. Team captain Lara Stouffer has already emerged as one of the team's top leaders both in and out of the pool.
Head coach Mickey Wender is extremely high on his women's team as the squad prepares to open its 2012-13 campaign. With a strong corps of returners and a talented influx of plebes, the women's club will be strong both in the pool and off the boards this season.
Junior Lara Stouffer, who will serve as captain of the women's team in this her final year of eligibility, figures to lead Army in the backstroke events once again this season.
Sophomore Keeli McNeary, who shattered the Academy record in the 200 back last season, figures to contribute in the backstroke events as well. Freshman Nat Beale, who will be counted on to make major contributions in a number of events this year, and senior Megan Metts have both looked strong in both the 100 back and 200 back throughout the preseason.
Juniors Grace Hamilton and Juliette Wallerstein are expected to lead the way for Army's sprint freestylers in 2012-13. Both swimmers already rank among the Black Knights' all-time top 10 in the 50 free and 100 free. Sophomore Haileigh Phillips, freshman Molly Mucciarone, Beale and Metts are also expected to contribute in the shorter freestyle events.
"Natalie (Beale) is the real deal," said Wender of the first-year swimmer who trained alongside Michael Phelps under the direction of legendary coach Bob Bowman with the North Baltimore Aquatics Club. "We are going to be able to use her in a number of different areas. She is just so athletically gifted."
Sophomore Kristen Barta, who lists among the program's all-time top 10 in the 200 free and 500 free, will help lead the charge in the middle-distance freestyle events. Beale, Hamilton, sophomore Kristina Muller, and freshmen Jennifer Clay and Shannon Rogers will all factor into Wender's plans when it comes to the middle-distance races. Sophomores Audrey Brown and Josie Antilla will also see time, along with Clay and fellow freshmen Kate Kinley, Ally Walz and Jess Fabrizio.
Several of Army's middle-distance specialists are also in line to jump up and swim the 1,000 free and 1,650 free. Brown, Antilla, Kinley, Beale, Rogers, Fabrizio, Clay and her older sister junior Jessica Clay will all be given opportunities in the longer races.
Sophomore Sam Allen, whose name already appears on the top-10 list for both the 100 breast and 200 breast, will lead the Army women in the breaststroke events. The second-year performer has grown and matured since her "breakout" freshman campaign, and Wender is looking for big things out of Allen during her second season at West Point.
The young group of breaststrokers includes Fabrizio, Kinley, Antilla, Barta, Jessica Clay and freshman Carolyn McCarty. Barta ranks 10th in the 200 breast on Army's all-time ledger.
Wender has a nice mix of swimmers lined up to compete in the butterfly events this winter. Newcomers Rogers, Mucciarone, Beale and Walz will join veterans Wallerstein, Muller and Phillips to assemble a formidable group of butterflyers.
Allen, Antilla and Brown, who all rank among the Black Knights' all-time top five in the 400 IM, will pace Army in the individual medley races.
Wender is optimistic when it comes to the Black Knights' crop of divers as well.
"I'm very pleased and excited about what I've seen from our divers during the preseason," said Wender. "I love our approach off the boards, and look forward to watching them grow and seeing what they can accomplish as a group this season."
Juniors Breawna Davis, Rita Snyder and Danielle Ullman all scored points at the Patriot League Championships last season as sophomores, and the trio of divers is poised for even bigger things this year.
Sophomore Maggie Churchill, who is "much improved" according to Wender, will add quality depth to this unit.
Senior co-captain Dan Foky, who lists among Army's all-time top 10 in both the 50 free and 100 free, will pace the Black Knights in the sprint freestyle events once again this season.
Junior John Blickle and sophomores Michael Dustin, Dion Hart and Ty ler Sowell will add veteran depth to this group, while freshmen Pierre Archambeau, Austin Kong, Nick Treiberg and Chris Szekely will push the upperclassmen in the 50 free.
Foky, Treiberg and Dustin have posted some of Army's best times in the 100 free during preseason. They will be joined in that event by Szekely, juniors Daniel Ruckman and Kenny Yacynych, sophomores Will Viana and Casey Woudenberg and freshman Adam Sjoholm.
There are any number of eight to 12 swimmers who could contribute for Army in the 200 free this year. The Black Knights' top time in that event during the preseason belongs to Szekely. Viana, who posted Army's fifth-best time in the 200 free as a plebe last year, will also compete in this event. Ruckman, who ranks eighth on Army's career list in the 200 free, Sjoholm and Dustin will add quality depth here.
Woudenberg and Viana, who both list among the Academy's all-time top 10 in the 500 free, will pace Army in that event once again. They will be joined by Ruckman, sophomore Matt Kane and freshmen Zach Blankenbeker, Richard Xue, Szekely and Sjoholm.
Woudenberg, who also ranks among the Black Knights' all-time best in the 1,000 free and 1,650 free, figures to pace Army in the longer freestyle events in 2012-13. Kane, Ruckman and freshman Cole Garriott will also participate in the distance freestyle races.
Yacynych, who owns the Academy record in the 100 back, will continue to serve as one of Army's top options in both backstroke events. Veterans Sowell, Viana and junior Brendan Lorton will also see time in these events, as will freshmen Archambeau, Sam Mo and William Dempsey.
Senior Ayman Andrews, who earned All-Patriot League first-team honors and placed within the top 20 at the United States Olympic Trials in the 100-meter fly this past season, will lead the way for Army in the butterfly events. The fourth-year performer is the school record-holder in the 100 fly and ranks fourth all-time in the 200 fly.
Dustin, who ranks 10th all-time at Army in the 100 fly, will swim both butterfly races as well. Yacynych, Mo, Kong and juniors Wesley Trumbauer will add quality depth to the 100 fly as well.
Andrews and Viana, who ranks fifth all-time at Army in the 200 fly, will set the pace for the Black Knights in the longer butterfly event. Blankenbeker, Dustin, Mo, Trumbauer and Xue will also see time in the 200 fly.
Senior Carter Kelly and junior Ben Quay, who both ranks among Army's all-time top 10 in both the 100 breast and 200 breast, return to the fold and are expected to set the tone for the Black Knights in the breaststroke events. Sophomore Joon Chung, who continues to work towards his potential, will add depth to Army's stable of breaststrokers.
Mo has emerged as one of the Black Knights' top options in the individual medley events. Viana, whose name appears on Army's all-time top 10 in both the 200 IM and 400 IM, will swim both events throughout the season. Andrews, who ranks third all-time in the 200 IM, will also see time in the shorter individual medley race. Chung and freshman Colin Kanzari will add depth to the IM group.
The men's diving contingent is in excellent shape with the return of senior Chris Nguyen. Nguyen, who holds the Academy records off both boards, was named to the All-Patriot League first team each of the past two seasons. The talented diver also collected Diver of the Meet honors as a sophomore and junior.
Nguyen will be joined by sophomore Zachary Woods, who was selected to the All-Patriot League second team as a plebe last season. Seniors Chad Drake and Vinny Franchino, sophomore Josh Urnezis and freshman Aidan Scribbick round out this ultra-deep and talented crop of divers.
Urnezis made the finals at the NCAA Zone "A" Regionals last March and the sky is the limit for him as well.
"We have the most depth that we've had in our diving since I've been here," said Wender. "Throw in the most talented diver in the history of the program, and we have huge expectations for our divers this year. We've grown to really appreciate diving, and I think we'll be a force off the boards throughout the season."
Army's 2012-13 season begins on Oct. 5 when the Black Knights host Boston College, Rowan and Vermont (W) in a quad-meet. Then, after a trip to Massachusetts (Oct. 19), Army returns to West Point to welcome Connecticut to West Point on Oct. 26.
Army ushers in the month of November by hosting Buffalo in a dual meet on Nov. 10. One week later, the Black Knights host Columbia (M) and C.W. Post (W) on Nov. 17.
"I like the way our schedule has evolved over the last couple of years," said Wender. "We're looking forward to our early-season rivalry meets versus UMass and UConn. Those opponents always bring out the best in us. Those have been really fun over the years.
"We've also upgraded our schedule this year with the addition of Buffalo and Delaware," added Wender. "Both of those teams will challenge us, and we're really excited about that.
"The Columbia and C.W. Post meet will serve as a good rehearsal for the Navy meet."
After taking part in the Brown Big Bear Open (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), the Black Knights will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to face arch-rival Navy in the Patriot League opener.
"We'll see mostly Ivy League schools at the Brown meet," said Wender. "I think that event will give us a great mid-season championship-format experience for our team. I think it's important, especially for the freshmen, to have a chance to experience what a three-day prelims-finals meet is all about. Many of them have never done it before, so to have that experience early in the season is really invaluable."
The second half of the schedule begins on Jan. 3, as Army partcipates at the San Juan Invitational in Puerto Rico. The Black Knights then return to the States to begin a busy six weeks of Patriot League competition. Army will travel to Pennsylvania to face conference rivals Lehigh and Bucknell on Jan. 11 and 12, respectively. The Black Knights remain on the road to battle Delaware in a dual meet (Jan. 18) and American and George Mason in a tri-meet (Jan. 19). Army wraps up its regular-season slate on Jan. 26, when the Black Knights host Patriot League foes Colgate and Lafayette at Crandall Pool. on Jan. 20.
The Black Knights will then compete at the Bucknell Invitational on Feb. 2, before returning to Lewisburg, Pa., for the Patriot League Championships during the weekend of Feb. 22-23.