Feb. 15, 2011
|Event||2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships
|Dates||Thursday-Saturday, February 17-19
|Location||Buffalo, N.Y. | Erie Community College
||MAAC Championships Home Page|
BALTIMORE - For the first time in 11 years, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships will be held in a new venue, but that is not going to deter the Loyola University Maryland men's and women's teams in their quests for league titles.
The men's team will be looking to capture its third-straight MAAC Championship, while the women are competing to improve on their fourth place finish from a year ago.
This season's meet will be held at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y., beginning this Thursday. The Championships, which had been held at Loyola for the past 11 years, conclude on Saturday night.
"It will be a little different for us," Head Coach Brian Loeffler said of the move to Buffalo. "It has a larger spectator area. We hold 600 (at Loyola), and Erie Community College holds 1,200. We are hoping to get alumni and fan support up there for the Greyhounds. We are excited about it, and we think we can compete as well up there as we did here."
Loyola's men are led by an outstanding senior class that has formed a key nucleus in the last two MAAC Championship teams. The class includes the school record holders in the 100- and 200-yard butterflies (Ozzy Torres), 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes (Colin Chenet and Matt Fralinger), the 100-yard backstroke (Sam McQuaid) and the 200-yard individual medley (Jacob Drannan).
"Going for three is definitely a goal (on the men's side)," Loeffler said. "Our senior class is going to be sorely missed. If we are going to win, this is the year we have a real strong chance with their leadership."
In addition to the senior class' contributions, another key swimmer for the Loyola men is Brennan Morris, the 2010 MAAC Championships Men's Most Outstanding Swimmer. This year, Morris has turned in more top-flight performances and earned five MAAC Men's Swimmer of the Week honors.
"Brennan has a legitimate shot at being an NCAA individual qualifier this year," said Loeffler. "You have to be in about the top 20 to 25 in the country in an event to be invited to that meet. Based on his swims this weekend, we will see if he is going to be able to continue on to represent the Greyhounds on a national level."
On the women's side, the Greyhounds are poised to improve on last season's fourth-place finish. Leading the way for Loyola is Caitlin Cassidy, a senior who is ranked first in the MAAC in the 100 butterfly.
"Caitlin has been swimming real well, and she is going to contribute on a lot of our relays," Loeffler said. "She is seeded first in the 100 fly, and it would be great for her to go out with an individual title."
Along with Cassidy, several more Loyola women will look to contribute points in the team race.
"Mary Henkels has been swimming well, and so has Courtney Trivino," Loeffler added. "We have a good group of freshmen this year - Erin Shea, Caitlin Cronin and Brittany Guinee - they will hopefully help us improve on last year.
"The last few years, it has been Marist, Rider and Loyola in the mix, and I think it will be those teams who will contend (this year)."
Loyola will also pick up points this year in the diving events with a group that is deeper than past seasons.
"We have a big squad with three men and five women who will be competing," said Loeffler. "Elizabeth Mixa and Michael Brown are our top two divers, and they will be in the mix to score lots of points for us."
Last month, Mixa posted the second-best 1-meter score in school history against La Salle, and Brown tallied a school record in the men's 3-meter event.
For more details about the MAAC Championships, visit the MAAC Championships Home Page.