December 12, 2008

2008-09 Men's Swimming Preview


BLOOMSBURG- The Bloomsburg University men's swimming team enters the 2008-09 season under the leadership of new head coach Stu Marvin. Last season's coach R.J Wojtylak remains on staff as an assistant coach.

With the change and shuffling of coaches during the off-season, it could be easy for the team to lose focus. Marvin says that has not been the case.

"We are trying to send a message that we are one team with the same goals, instead of the men's team and the women's team. I believe they understand the expectations that we have for each other. Coach Rider's program has always been successful and R.J has done a great job over the past few years building a tremendous nucleus on the men's side."

Leading the way for the Huskies are three captains; seniors Steve Withers (Doylestown/Central Bucks West), Joe Bentz (York/York Suburban) and David Mancinelli (Johnstown/Westmont Hilltop). Withers will compete in the freestyle and middle distance events, while Bentz will swim in intermediate events and the 200 fly. Mancinelli will swim sprint freestyle and help with all the relays. Marvin will be counting on these three to carry the load for a young team.

"The team came prepared and in shape to start the season, and I think that's a credit to our captains," said Marvin. "They have kept the team motivated and focused on the goals we want to accomplish."

Sprints and Stroke Events

Marvin is counting on a combination of veterans and new faces to emerge in the sprint events this season. Along with experienced veterans such as Mancinelli and junior Michael Bierds (Malvern/West Chester), Bloomsburg will need strong performances from sophomore Derek Straub (Sinking Spring/Wilson) and sophomore transfer Ryan Lightner (Lebanon/Cedar Crest).

Mancinelli and Bierds both finished last season with a bang. Mancinelli swam a career-best 22.01 50 Free and a 48.20 100-free, while Bierds swam a 53.87 in the 100-fly and a 2:03.10 in the 200-fly at the PSAC Championships last season. Freshman breaststroker Tim Dorsch (Schwenksville/Souderton) is expected to become a major contributor. He swam a 1:03.58 in the 100, while in the 200 he finished in 2:19.78 against Ithaca College. Straub took first in the 100-back in 54.94 against The College of New Jersey this season. Expect Withers to be at the the core of the freestyle events. He placed first in the 100-free (49.63) and the 200-free (1:48.75) against Edinboro this season. Withers also swam a 50.22 100-free at the 2007 Bloomsburg Relays and a 1:46.91 200-free at the PSAC Championships last season.

Sophomore Juan Castaneda (Shamokin/Shamokin Area) should emerge as one of the conference's top 100 butterflyers after his team record 52.17 last year. Castaneda has already posted a 54.15 against Edinboro this season. "Juan is quietly one of the hardest workers we have on the team," said Marvin. "He prepares as hard as anyone and spends a lot of time outside the pool on his core fitness.'

Distance Freestyle and Individual Medley

The Huskies have a host of talented, albeit inexperienced, contenders in the distance events. Sophomore John King (Ridley Park/Ridley) has established himself as the Huskies main threat. King emerged last season at the PSAC Championships, swimming a 10:00.26 in the 1000-free and a 16:45.45 in the 1650-free. King is off to a great start this season, winning the 1000-free in a lifetime best 9:57.87 against TCNJ and the 500-free (4:54) at Edinboro.

Junior captain Bentz will also provide leadership and experience in the distance events as well as the 200-fly. Bentz swam a 4:52.40 in the 500-free at the 2007 Zippy Invitational and his 1:57.60 in the 200-fly at PSAC's last year is closing in on one of the oldest team records set in 1979. He will be aided by sophomore Ben Safran (Doylestown/Central Bucks East) and freshman Erik Stefferud (West Chester/West Chester Henderson).

Junior Kyle Weisenbach (Lincoln University/Avon Grove) swam a PSAC-qualifying time of 4:31.99 against Edinboro and could be poised for a breakout season. Tyler DeLorenzo (State College/State College) was on pace for a record setting season last year before he was slowed by the flu at the Conference Championships. Look for him to rebound and contribute heavily this year.

Withers can also be counted on in the distance events by going 17:14.79 in the 1650-free at the 2008 PSAC Championships.

Relays

The Huskies will likely go young with their relay teams. The "A" medley should consist of either Lightner or Straub, Dorsch or sophomore Ryan Alichwer (Boiling Springs/Boiling Springs), Castaneda and Mancinelli. This group swam a 1:41.63 in the 200-medley relay against Ithaca, finishing seventh. The 400-free relay will probably be comprised of Mancinelli, Straub, Lightner, and Withers. The Huskies took first place at the Bloomsburg Relays, sweeping all of the events. The Huskies finished fifth in the 800- relay and seventh in the 400-relay at last season's PSAC Championships.

Outlook

Bloomsburg has high hopes for the 2008-09 season, but the team tempered their expectations into manageable goals. "We know how tough the top of the conference is and it may not be realistic to jump into the top 3-4 teams, but we have the potential to make the move," said Marvin. "This team was very close last season. They were only 16 points out of fifth place, and had an unfortunate disqualification. This team is close to making a statement."