The Eastern Michigan University women’s swim and dive team will be looking to cap off an undefeated season by bringing home their third title at the Mid-American Conference championship at Alumni Arena Natatorium in Buffalo, N.Y., this weekend.
“Being undefeated for the season has boosted the confidence for a lot of the girls, which I am hoping will help them during the competition,” senior diver Kelly Hendricks said.
Joining EMU in the championships are host school the University at Buffalo Bulls, the Miami (Ohio) University RedHawks, the University of Toledo Rockets, the University of Ohio Bobcats, the Ball State University Cardinals, Bowling Green State University Falcons and the University of Akron Zips.
The Eagles have finished in first place twice (2005 and 2006) in the 33-year history of the event.
Buffalo is where their last dual-meet of the season was held on Jan. 26, when they defeated the University at Buffalo Bulls, 169-131.
EMU finished in fifth place at last year’s MAC championship in Akron, Ohio, scoring 392 points in the three-day event.
Toledo took home the title with 635 points, while Ohio finished second with 612 and Miami placed third with 524.
Seniors Hendricks and Briana Emig were both named to the All-MAC first team as juniors.
While sophomore Jessie Godlewski was recognized as part of the All-MAC second team as a freshman.
Diving coach Loren “Buck” Smith was named the 2012 MAC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year.
Coach Peter Linn expects this event to be on a level playing field.
“On paper Miami has to be favored,” Linn said. “Toledo, Buffalo, Ohio and Bowling Green are all good and Ball State is much improved. The team races should all be very close.”
Junior Meghan Richardson is excited to be a part of one of the best teams in school history and wants to finish the season on a high note.
“Honestly, words can not describe how excited I am,” Richardson said. “This is a major accomplishment for not just the team but for all of EMU. Being able to represent my school with such hard work and dedication is an honor. If we win this meet, I will remember it for the rest of my life. I will be able to tell my kids, and take them to the pool and show them the banner and our picture with the name ‘MAC champs’ and say that I was a part of that team.”
Two swimmers who are primed for breakout performances are freshmen Mary Kate MacLean and Audra Burtch.
“Those two come to mind in terms of those who could make an impact,” Linn said.
Burtch has never been a part of a winning team going all the way back to high school, and is enjoying every second of this ride.
“I feel so blessed right now,” Burtch said. “To come in my freshman year and be a part of making history with an undefeated season overwhelms me.”
Senior co-captain Wesley Blassneck is keeping things on an even keel when it comes to the team’s accomplishments going into the MAC championship.
“It is very surreal and nerve racking,” Blassneck said. “Regardless of what happens, I am very proud of this team. I feel confident going in, and all of us need to if we want to bring back that title.”
The event will begin Thursday and run until Saturday.
There will be two sessions for each day of competition, with the preliminaries starting at 11 a.m. and the finals at 7 p.m.
The awards ceremony will take place at 9:25 p.m. Saturday.
You can watch all of the action live on www.mac-sports.com.
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