CARBONDALE, IL – For the first time in school history, the University at Buffalo men's swimming and diving team claimed the Mid-American Conference championship as the league meet concluded at Southern Illinois University's Edward J. Shea Natatorium on Saturday night. The Bulls won the meet by 78.5 points over second-place Eastern Michigan as they took two races and set three school records on Saturday.
The Bulls won the meet's final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, setting a school record and clinching the crown. The UB foursome of Simon Proudfoot, Mike Dugan, Jared Heine and Matt Hogan touched the wall in 2:56.60, lowering the 2010 record by three seconds. The time also earned the Bulls an NCAA B cut and set the MAC Championship record while tying the pool mark. It also meant that UB had swept all five relay races during the three-night championships, setting new school records in all five.
Heine also won the 100-yard freestyle in 44.44 after he broke his own school record in the preliminary heats on Saturday. Heine was the fastest qualifier with his 44.38 clocking, breaking his 2010 mark of 44.67. The Bulls also scored championship poins with Hogan tying for third in 45.05 and Proudfoot taking sixth in 45.15. Dugan finished second in the consolation final (10th overall) in a season-best 45.27.
Matt Schwippert finished second in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:45.07 as Eastern Michigan's Jacob Hanson (1:43.83) broke Schwippert's records set during the qualifying round. Schwippert was the fastest qualifier in the morning session as he turned in a time of 1:44.27, breaking his own UB, MAC and MAC Championship records by nearly a full second. The time was also a pool record and earned Schwippert an NCAA B cut. Phil Aronica finished third in the championship final in a season-best 1:47.45. Cory Zorsch finished second in the consolation final (10th overall) in 1:51.82.
In the 200-yard breaststroke, Josh Meints finished seventh in 2:05.38 after posting a season-best mark of 2:03.12 in the qualifying round. Christian Muller won the consolation championship, finishing ninth overall, in a season-best 2:05.85.
The Bulls had a pair of championship finishers in the 200-yard butterfly as Chris Berloth and Eric Culver placed seventh and eighth overall. Berloth finished in 1:54.02 with Culver clocking in at 1:56.39. Chris Waldock was second in the consolation final (10th overall) in 1:52.63 with Andrew Tanzey finishing third in the consolation (11th overall) in 1:53.71.
Culver also scored for the Bulls in the 1,650-yard freestyle as he finished 12th in 16:12.90. Zach Rice turned in a season-best with his 14th-place finish in the race in 16:18.12.
Diver Kenny Rhoades was eighth in the men's three-meter event, scoring 328.90 points for his Saturday night program. Colin Patrican and Chris Iafrati were second and third, respectively, in the consolation final. Patrican finished with 318.15 points and Iafrati scored 271.05 points.
The victory for the Bulls was the school's first since joining the league in 1999. It also marked the first time since 1979 that a school other than Eastern Michigan or Miami (OH) had won the crown. Eastern Michigan had won the last four championships and 10 of the last 11.
The Bulls finished the meet with 763.5 points, holding off a strong final night run by Eastern Michigan as the Eagles took second with 685 points. Host Southern Illinois was third with Miami (OH), Missouri State, Ball State and Evansville rounding out the field.
UB head coach Andy Bashor was named the Conference Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season as he led the Bulls to the title. Five Bulls, Heine, Hogan, Schwippert, Aronica, Meints, were named to the All-MAC First Team. Proudfoot, Zorsch and Tanzey earned second-team All-MAC honors.
"I am so proud of our men and their efforts that they have given this year," said Bashor. "They are so deserving of this moment. It's a great day to be a Buffalo Bull."
Team scores: Buffalo 763.5, Eastern Michigan 685, Southern Illinois 613.5, Miami (OH) 485, Missouri State 432, Ball State 239, Evansville 126.