After two days of competition at the Mid-American Conference Men’s Championships, the Missouri State men’s swimming and diving team has totaled 322 points and have a 62-point lead over second-place Miami University (Ohio).
Day 1 was a strong one for the Bears, placing second in the 200-yard medley relay. The finish couldn’t have been much closer — Miami squeaked out a victory by two-tenths of a second.
MSU bounced back and took first in the 800 free relay in dominating fashion.
The team including sophomores Arthur Cury, Pawel Krawczyk, freshman Jonathan Hill and senior Conner Ripp recorded a winning time of 6.29:40. Their winning time was six seconds faster than runner up Miami.
The first day ended with Miami and MSU sharing first place with 74 points each.
Day 2, March 5, began the same way day one ended, with an MSU victory.
Krawczyk recorded his first gold medal of the tournament, winning the 500 free with a time of 4.20:49. Senior Antonio Thomas, sophomore Sebastian Odent and Hill followed close behind to secure the 1-2-3-4 sweep in the event.
Cury continued the winning streak for MSU, winning the 200 individual medley and extending the streak to three straight events.
Senior Samuel Senn was the Bears’ highest finisher in the 50 free, taking home the bronze medal with a 20.49 time.
The Bears performed well on the boards. Junior Michael Claunch tallied 297.60 points, earning him a second-place finish. Sophomore John David Spence placed fifth with 257.05 points.
The last event of the night was another tight one between MSU and Miami with the RedHawks just narrowly beating the Bears in the 200 free relay.
Ripp, Senn, and seniors Jacob Schultz and Thomas Heye recorded a second-place time of 1:20.97, falling to Miami by less than a second.
A day full of first and second-place finishes garnered the Bears 284 points and helped them break away from their Day 1 tie with Miami.
MSU’s second day at the MAC Men’s Championship was an impressive one as they captured two individual titles, but Day 3 was even better.
The Bears rattled off three straight wins in the 400 IM, 200 free and 100 breaststroke.
Thomas sparked the winning streak for the Bears by grabbing gold in the 400 IM, his first individual championship of the meet. Freshman Tyler Lewis finished close behind Thomas to earn the top two spots for the Bears.
The sophomore duo of Cury and Krawyczk continued their dominance, completing the second 1-2 sweep for the Bears and taking gold and silver in the 200 free with times of 1:36.71 and 1:37.29, respectively.
MSU’s third and final individual win of the day came courtesy of junior Michael Hampel in the 50 free.
Hampel’s time of 54.55 helped him inch past sophomore teammate Conner Funke and capture his first MAC Men’s Championship gold medal. Senn notched his second top-five finish of the meet with a fourth-place finish.
The Bears capped off the night with yet another first-place finish, this time in the 400 medley relay. Ripp and Cury recorded their second relay win of the meet. They were joined by Schultz and Hampel who recorded their first relay win of the weekend.
MSU ended Day 3 with 607 points and held an 80 point lead over second-place Miami.
The Bears held a lead going into the final day of last year’s meet and gave it up to eventual champion Miami.
After four days of competition, 10 gold medals and 892 points, the Missouri State men’s swimming and diving team are Mid-American Conference champions for a third time.
A dominant performance in Day 3 carried over into Day 4 for MSU, striking gold in multiple events for the third consecutive day.
Day 4 opened with MSU taking the top four spots in the 1,650 yard freestyle. Senior Antonio Thomas led the way, clocking a time of 15:08.99. Sophomores Pawel Krawczyk and Sebastian Odent followed in second and third place, respectively, and freshman Johnathan Hill rounded out the top four. Sweeping the top four added 68 points to the Bears already impressive lead.
After a second-place finish on the 1-meter boards on Day 2, junior Michael Claunch collected his first individual championship in the 3-meter boards with a total score of (310.80).
Sophomore Conner Funke secured in the last gold of the day for MSU, beating out junior teammate Michael Hampel for the 200 breaststroke title.
Although the Bears garnered three first-place finishes, the silver and bronze medals helped maintain their cushion over the competition.
"I am so proud of this group," head coach Dave Collins said in a press release. "Winning the trophy is great, but more important than that is how much they care about one another and the program."
Four Bears recorded NCAA B-cut times over the four-day period. Thomas, Krawczyk and Odent recorded B-cut times in the 1650 free, Funke did so in the 200 breaststroke and Krawczyk did so a second time in the 500 free.
MSU surely racked up the awards in the pool, but they were also able to do so out of the pool.
The Bears were awarded nine of the 16 all-MAC first-team spots along with having four members on the all-MAC second team.
Collins was awarded his second swimming Coach of the Year award this season, winning his first in the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Championships.
Thomas was awarded the Co-Most Outstanding Swimmer award, which he shared with Southern Illinois’ Adam Cernek along with the Most Outstanding Senior award.
MSU held the lead they created on day three, finishing 80 points ahead of runner up Miami (Ohio) and 270 points ahead of third-place SIU.