Stags and Athenas Live up to Hype

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags
and Athenas both captured SCIAC swimming and diving titles last weekend in Commerce,
Calif., the seventh straight title for the men’s team and the 12th straight title for the women.
The meet started Thursday, Feb. 20 with the diving competition
and lasted through Sunday, Feb. 23, with CMS leading the meet
from day one. The men’s team finished with 1,229 points, followed by
Pomona-Pitzer in second and the University of Redlands in third. The women scored 1,152.5 points
to take the title, with P-P coming in second and Redlands in third. 

CMS diver James Stevick CM ’15 won SCIAC Swimming and Diving Male Athlete of the Year, while Matthew
Williams CM ’17 won the Freshman of the Year award. Both the CMS men and women’s teams held perfect 8-0
records in SCIAC dual meets before winning this weekend as well.

“The results appear impressive, but the stories we’ll remember about SCIACs 2014 will be the individual breakthroughs and the team’s cohesion,” said head coach Charlie Griffiths, who has led the CMS men and women to 17 total team titles in his 13 years. “I’m proud that the team put together such an outstanding SCIAC meet.”

The Stags started
off Friday on a low note, taking sixth place in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
However, in the next race, the 500-yard freestyle, the Stags took the top four
spots. Marc Blumber CM ’15 won the title in 4:33.19, followed by Alex Mendoza CM
’15 in second, Cameron Whiting CM ’15 in third, and Conrad Shabb CM ’16 in
fourth. The race gave the CMS men 76 total points and a lead that they carried throughout the meet.

that night, the CMS team of Williams, Zach Alleva CM ’16, Patrick
Shultz CM ’15, and Joey Hinton CM ’16 won the 400-yard medley relay with a time
of 3:18.30, fast enough to send them on to NCAA Championships in

Athenas, who were disqualified in the first event of the meet, bounced back
when Michelle Kee CM ’14 won the 200-yard individual medley title with a
record-setting time of 2:04.35. The time was also good enough for an NCAA “A” cut, which sends Kee automatically to the NCAA Championships.

In the
50-yard freestyle, Kelly Ngo CM ’17 claimed the title in record-setting style
with a time of 23:56. The women then won the 400-yard medley relay with a team comprising Ngo, Kayla Flaten CM ’17, Annika Jessen CM ’14, and Kee.

Although it was Ngo’s first SCIAC Championships meet, the big stage brought out her best. Going in, she knew that this was her opportunity to earn a reward for the work she put in this season.

“It was amazing because it was my first SCIACs and the whole team was talking about SCIAC magic and how all the work we put in this season was going to pay off,” Ngo said. “It just felt good to be there after the months of training.”

Williams also commented on the extra motivation that comes with competing in the SCIAC Championships.

“I saw some of my teammates who hadn’t dropped time all season get in the pool and shred their times from before,” Williams said. “It was awesome.”

Both the
Stags and Athenas built their leads on the second day of competition.

Shabb set a meet-record time of 3:56.88 to claim the
400-yard individual medley title. In the 100-yard butterfly, Schultz
took the men’s title in 49.10. The Athenas then went on to sweep the event,
with Jessen’s 56.24 leading the way, followed by Kee and Helen
Liu CM ’14 taking second and third, respectively. Both the men and the women won the 200-yard
freestyle, as defending champion Whiting finished in 1:40.20 and last
year’s second-place finisher, LillyBelle Deer CM ’14, won the women’s event in

While the CMS dominance was not exactly surprising, and both the Stags and Athenas were favorites heading in, Kee emphasized the importance of entering the meet confident, but not overly so.

“It was more or less like, ‘Don’t take it for granted that we had done so well during the season, because anything can happen,'” Kee said. 

That attitude paid off for the Stags and the Athenas, as both sides finished strong. 

The last individual event on Saturday featured Williams, who
won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 47.94, breaking the record that he set
in the morning’s preliminary rounds.

On the
final day of competition, the Stags and Athenas both took the 1650-yard
freestyle events during the afternoon. Shabb won the
men’s event with a time of 15:49.94, breaking the SCIAC record, while
Mendoza took second. Molly Loftus CM ’14 took the title in the women’s 1650 with a time
of 17:34.58.

Williams then won the 200-yard backstroke, shattering the
SCIAC record with a time of 1:45.67. Emily McKinnon CM ’17 and Ngo went one-two
in the women’s 200-yard backstroke, with McKinnon finishing in 2:19.82. 

The Stags
turned in an impressive 1-2-3-4 sweep in the 100-yard freestyle. Alex Poltash CM
’16 won in a time of 45.09, followed by Shultz, Hinton, and
Whiting. The final individual title that CMS brought home was in the
women’s 200-yard butterfly, in which Kee won in 2:04.62 and
Jensen finished second. Stevick won both the
men’s 1- and 3-meter diving competitions.

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