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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Powerful freshmen make early splash

The men’s swimming and diving team has added another strong group of freshman talent to this year’s squad that has already earned individual wins and contributed to the team’s winning streak.

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Freshman Peter Knight swims the freestyle event during practice Monday in the Athletics and Events Center Pool. Knight finished ahead of three Bombers to take first place in the 50-yard freestyle against SUNY-Cortland on Nov. 5. KRISTINA STOCKBURGER/THE ITHACAN

There are 11 freshmen on this year’s team, and four have already stood out by winning nine individual events. Clement Towner leads the Bombers’ freshmen with six individual wins through the first four meets of the season. Logan Metzger, Peter Knight, and Ben Kennedy have picked up the other three wins.

These four freshman, along with Matthew Morrison and David Sager, have averaged more than 72 points per meet in the individual and relay events in the first four meets the team has competed in this season.

Senior captain James Sica said he was expecting the freshmen to perform well this year, but he was surprised at the immediate impact they had on the team.

“I think we all were surprised at how well they adjusted,” he said. “Especially after the first meet, I remember everyone on deck watching had their mouths open in awe.”

The Bombers’ freshman class earned 83 of the 454 combined points in the team’s first two wins against SUNY-New Paltz and SUNY-Fredonia on Oct. 15 in the Athletics and Events Center Pool.

Towner has won six races so far this year, and has won two events at each meet. Metzger won his first collegiate race, the 200-yard freestyle against Fredonia, while consistently scoring points in the other two meets.

Head Coach Kevin Markwardt said he knew he had a talented freshmen duo in Towner and Metzger.

“Our expectations were really high, but even with that, to be honest with you, when Logan went 1:47 in the 200-yard freestyle and Clement went 10:09 in the 1,000-yard freestyle, it was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Even I didn’t think they’d be able to go that quick that early.”

Kennedy won the 100-yard backstroke in 55.81 seconds, beating Rensselear Polytechnic Institute graduate student Alex Updegrove by nearly one second. Kennedy has also scored consistently, competing in multiple  events such as the backstroke and individual medley.

Markwardt, Sica and Towner said Knight has been the most surprising swimmer in the freshman class. Knight said he was shocked by his fast start to the season.

“I didn’t expect to be one of the fastest on the team,” he said. “I just came in expecting to get better every day, and to be where I am on the team right now is great.”

Knight has been on several relay teams that have placed first in the team’s four meets this season. He won the 50-yard freestyle against SUNY-Cortland in 21.99 seconds, finishing ahead of standout Bombers such as sophomore Zack Kundel, junior Jake Robbins and senior Antoine Connors.

Knight finished just behind Connors in the 50-yard freestyle  at the season-opening meet. Connors swam a time of 21.70 seconds, while Knight finished the event in 21.79 seconds.

Markwardt said he has been impressed with Knight thus far, but said he needs to improve in the 100-yard freestyle.

“He’s one of the top three guys on the team in the event, but when you put him in the 100, he drops down to one of our sixth or seventh guys,” he said.

Sica said the Bombers’ freshmen are a vital part of the team’s goal to repeat as state champions.

“We are looking for that state title again, and they’re going to be one of the biggest factors, if not the biggest factor, in going back to states this year,” he said.