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The Stylus

The Stylus

    Swimming and Diving rewrite leaderboards at SUNYAC Championships


    The four days of competition at the 2022 SUNYAC Swim and Dive Championships were packed with record-breaking performances from SUNY Brockport’s men and women’s teams. 

    The women’s team concluded the meet with a third-place finish of 399 points, rewriting Brockport’s previous top team score of 335, while the men finished seventh with a total of 192. 

    Swim and Dive Head Coach Zack Wahl took over the Golden Eagles’ program in August of 2021. The coach prior to him left in March of 2020, and hiring freezes at the college amid that time span left the teams coach-less for the 2020-21 season. 

    “Coming into this year I honestly didn’t know what to expect, I just wanted to help all of the athletes get faster and improve as individuals,” Wahl said. “The reason we were so successful this season was because of the buy in from the athletes, their willingness to embrace my training plan and the culture that we built this year. We lucked into a few really good freshman walk-ons and a few returners from previous years who had taken a step away from the sport, and it was the perfect storm to get the women third. All of the credit goes to the athletes though, and the hard work they put in all season long.” 

    Junior Nicole Orcutt was a returning swimmer this year and explained how despite the difficulties due to the pandemic, their new coach helped paved the way for so much success.  

    “I was nervous to come back to a new coach and after being off for over a year because of COVID-19, but it was really smooth sailing,” Orcutt said. “Our new coach Zack is a fantastic fit for the team; he knew exactly how to get us to where we needed to be for our big meet both mentally and physically. He gets along with the team too, which makes practices ten times better.” 

    Day one: 

    The women’s 800-yard freestyle relay headlined day one with a new school record time of 7:56.23. Nicole Orcutt, Sawyer Parker, Allison Morrow and Elizabeth Sagan shaved over a second off the previous record of 7:57.39 set in 2020 and placed third in the event overall. 

    “Competing is what I enjoy the most. The team atmosphere and seeing everyone achieve is the greatest feeling in the world to me, and competing for Brockport is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. The team is amazing, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” Orcutt said. 

    For the men, Mark Eaton placed fourth on the three-meter diving board with a score of 478.45. A personal-best, this score ranks him third all-time in program history. Placing eighth in the event, Kurt Mueller also set a new personal record with a score of 415.30. Cody Conte, Taylan Getiren, Gavin Stone and Ryan Sampson made up the men’s 800-yard freestyle relay team. They placed ninth in the event with a time of 8:03.08, racking up 18 points for the team. 

    At the conclusion of day one both the women and men sat in third place overall with total scores of 32 and 44 points respectively.  

    Day two: 

    For the first time since 2017, a Golden Eagle placed first in the women’s 50-yard freestyle. Freshman Elizabeth Sagan swam a time of 23.97 to bring home the gold.  

    “Going into SUNYACS my one personal goal was to win the 50-yard freestyle. I was hyped going into the event because I wanted to beat Geneseo and make my coach proud,” Sagan said.  

    Sagan was also a member of the 200-yard freestyle relay along with Sawyer Parker, Emily Meissner and Nicole Orcutt. They finished in 1:38.60, earning second place at the meet. 

    The women’s 400-yard medley relay, Sawyer Parker, Allison Morrow, Bri Owen and Nicole Orcutt, placed sixth with a time of 4:11.59, which was nearly five full seconds off their seeding time. Nicole Orcutt also placed eighth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:24.12. 

    Divers Kyra Russ and Ren Watson placed third and eighth on the one-meter diving board with scores of 432.80 and 371.00 respectively. This was freshman Russ’ first career podium finish. 

    On the men’s side, Matthew Chan, Oliver Dragojevic, Logan Kime and Billy Tolpa placed seventh in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:45.66, almost eight seconds off their seeding time. Placing eighth with a time of 1:30.50 was the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Billy Tolpa, Matthew Chan, Taylan Getiren and Oliver Dragojevic. 

    The women ended day two in third place with a total of 173 points, and the men sat in seventh with 92 points. 

    One aspect of the sport that’s an unwavering asset to the teams’ success is the environment created by coaches and athletes. Orcutt explains how the energy and support at meets is showcased every day throughout the season, whether at a competition or simply at practice. 

    “We’re all very close as we spend about 90% of our time together and build each other up in a ton of different ways. Practicing together brings us all together so it feels like one big team rather than separated men and women’s teams, which I love. Before meets we have a pep talk with the teams and we do our team cheer to get everyone ready and excited. After our races, you can expect to go back to where the team is sitting and get fist bumps and high fives from everyone on the team even if you think you didn’t do so well. Coming back to such a supportive team is really uplifting,” Orcutt said. 

    Coach Wahl has played a prominent role in creating and encouraging this positive, supportive atmosphere. 

    “As a team we created an atmosphere at practice where everyone works hard, tries to have fun and most importantly, stays positive,” Wahl said. “Swimming and diving are very challenging sports and if you don’t stay positive it can snowball and create a bad practice atmosphere. I do my best to keep it light and fun and create an environment where everyone’s able to work hard, compete with each other and can try to get a little better every day.” 


    Day three: 

    Allison Morrow now sits second best in program history in the 400-yard individual medley with her time of 4:52.52. She placed sixth in the event. She also placed fourth along with Corinne Wilson, Bri Owen and Elizabeth Sagan in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:52.25. 

    Nicole Orcutt placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle. Her time of 1:58.31 places her fourth all-time. Teammates Elizabeth Sagan and Sawyer Parker also had top ten finishes in the event. In the 100-yard butterfly, Bri Owen finished ninth clocking a time of 1:02.68. 

    “This season was probably the best I’ve had at Brockport so far, but I hope to do even better next year and drop some time in my events. As a team I hope the women place second next SUNYACS and possibly make nationals in our 200-freestyle relay. With the incoming freshman next year it should be a really good season for us,” Orcutt said. 

    Oliver Dragojevic set a new school record not once, but twice, in the 100-yard breaststroke. He beat his own record time of 58.44 in prelims with a time of 58.06, and then once again in finals at 57.87. He placed eighth in the event. Alongside Matthew Chan, Logan Kime and Billy Tolpa, the 200-yard medley relay team placed seventh at a time of 1:40.77. 

    Mark Eaton and Kurt Mueller placed fifth and eighth respectively in the one-meter diving finals. Eaton’s score of 452.45 and Mueller’s of 389.95 earned them 25 points for the Green and Gold. 

    Day four: 

    Liz Sagan strikes again scoring gold for the Golden Eagles in the 100-yard freestyle. Her time of 52.44 placed her third in the event and secured her second first place finish at the meet. 

    “It was a big adrenaline rush,” Sagan said. “I have never won an event, let alone two events, in such a big competition. I was nervous going into the race and felt like the pressure was on me to win another event not only for Brockport, but for the other teams as well because everyone wanted to beat Geneseo. I hummed some of my favorite songs to calms my nerves, and my teammates were also very helpful by reminding me to have fun and that no matter what would happen, they would still love me.” 

    Allison Morrow had a big performance in the 200-yard breaststroke. Her time of 2:25.69 podiumed her bronze and ranks her second best all-time for the event in Brockport history. In the 400-yard individual medley, Allison Morrow swam a time of 4:52.52, ranking her second best all-time in event history and placing her sixth at the competition. 

    Corinne Wilson, Allison Morrow, Bri Owen and Elizabeth Sagan placed fourth in the 200-yard medley relay at 1:52.25, and Bri Owen finished ninth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:02.58. Nicole Orcutt clocked a time of 1:58.31 in the 200-yard freestyle putting her the fourth fastest in program history and placing fifth at the meet. Elizabeth Sagan and Sawyer Parker had top ten all-time finishes in the event as well. 

    “It was awesome to see the women’s team work so hard and well together,” Sagan said. “We encourage each other to perform your best but not to beat yourself up too much if you didn’t perform as well as you hoped. At the end, we were all very excited and proud of how we performed together as a team.” 

    Oliver Dragojevic was the spotlight of day four for the men. He broke another one of his school records, this time in the 200-yard breaststroke, with a time of 2:05.32 in prelims. His finals time of 2:06.89 placed him fourth in the event. 

    The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Oliver Dragojevic, Matthew Chan, Taylan Getiren and Billy Tolpa placed ninth to score 18 points with a time of 3:27.55. 

    The men, despite being a smaller team, swam extremely well at the meet. They broke two program records, qualified two divers for regionals, Mark Eaton and Kurt Mueller, and almost every athlete swam lifetime best times. The women’s team, amongst many other successes, qualified one diver for regionals, Kyra Russ. 

    “I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with such an awesome group of athletes, and I’m so excited for the future with this program,” Wahl said. “I honestly believe the future is bright for both the men and women, and that we’ll continue to make program history over the coming years.” 

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