Nick McAdam, Sports Editor
The women’s and men’s swim teams will partake in the Allegheny Empire Swimming and Diving Championship in Webster, New York from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, which gives the Pioneers new competition for the first time in the department’s history.
The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference will introduce six new teams to compete with: Penn St. Behrend, Alfred State College, Pitt-Bradford, Penn St. Altoona, Franciscan University and SUNY Delhi, while the Empire 8 will bring the usual Hartwick, Alfred, Nazareth and Utica.
Although it is not the first time that the two conferences have participated in joint championships, it is the first time for Coach Erin Knight to play against these six opponents.
According to AMCC Commissioner Donna Ledwin, the championship will extend a wonderful opportunity to participating athletes. However, there was a reason for the announcement.
“When Stevens left the conference, it left four teams, whereas the previous two years had five teams and the many years before that it had 14 to 16 teams,” Knight said.
Having championship competitions with only four or five teams participating is “inadequate,” according to Knight. Expanding the range of opponents makes for a worthwhile experience for Utica on that weekend.
For the men’s team, Utica will shape up against a set of teams that went 24-9 overall this season in scoring competition. Penn State Behrend went undefeated this season in scoring and finished in first place in three competitions.
On the other side of the coin, the women’s team will square off against a total opponent record of 19-31. Pittsburgh Bradford, a stem school of the University of Pittsburgh, lost every scoring competition this season and did not finish within the top five of any competition.
Both teams are up against a challenge for the weekend. The men’s team has lost five of their last six contests, which includes the team’s losing streak extending to their final four games. Utica has lost against every team within the Empire 8 that is participating in the championships.
The women’s team has also dropped their final four contests but managed six wins on the season. Both teams averaged out a winning percentage of nearly 40%, which is near the E8 standard for the season aside from Hartwick College, whose teams managed 18 wins total for the program.
Despite this, Knight believes her teams have a great shot to be competitive that weekend. The coach noted that the team is currently “tapering”–either practicing or trying to shed times–to reach their max performance level.
With the ten-team combination and the comments from the commissioner of the AMCC, the chances of potential crossover could give followers optimism. However, Knight notes that travel times may dim the lights on any hopes for season-to-season combinations in the years ahead.
Below are the driving times from Utica College according to Google Maps for the schools representing the AMCC at the championships.
- 1 h 41 m SUNY Delhi
- 4 h 16 m Penn State Behrend
- 3 h 8 m Alfred State
- 4 h 3 m Pitt-Bradford
- 5 h 32 m Penn State Altoona
- 6 h 36 m Franciscan University
At the end of the event, the AMCC will recognize a male and female swimmer that stood above the rest at the event while each team and individual will fight to be a top-three finisher.