Head Coach Ben Loorz helped guide the team to its best finish in program history, including eight top-three performances, to earn Coach of the Meet honors. (Photo: Kelley Cox/KLCfotos.com)
The Cal State East Bay swim team capped the 2013 Pacific Coast Swim Conference (PCSC) Championships with four top-three performances to claim a program-best second-place finish on Saturday at Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center. The Pioneers had at least one swimmer in every A Final on Saturday and saw more records fall on the final day of the conference meet.
All told, East Bay broke 15 school records and came home with several NCAA B standard times. Senior Jenel Lopez not only finished the meet with three individual medals, while Hannah Cutts, Bethany Hoopman and Alyssa Tenney joined Lopez as top-three individual finishers for the Pioneers. The relay teams also found success as all five finishing in the top five, including a second-place finish for the 200 free relay and a third-place showing for the 800 free relay team.
For his efforts in guiding this talented group of student-athletes to their best finish in program history at the PCSC meet, Head Coach Ben Loorz was honored as the PCSC Coach of the Meet on Saturday. In just his third season at the helm, Loorz will likely head to Birmingham, Ala., next month with Cal State East Bay's first NCAA Championships qualifiers since the 1980s.
Highlights on the final day of the meet included East Bay placing two in the top three for the first time. Both Hoopman and Tenney posted new season bests in the prelims to reach the A Final, where they came through with impressive swims. Tenney claimed second place with a school-record time of 2:06.96, earning her first individual hardware of the meet, while Hoopman improved on her morning performance by almost a full second to grab third place and give the Pioneers two medalists in the event.
Cutts opened the final evening session of the meet with a stellar swim in the 1650 freestyle. Cutts came out on a mission in the finals, taking nearly 30 seconds off her previous season best and claiming another piece of hardware for the Pioneers with her finals time of 17:37.94 to finish third. Shimizu also set a new season best, finishing seventh and shaving a few seconds off her previous low. Anna Froemming also took nearly 30 seconds off her previous best, placing 14th, while Jenni Perez took more than 20 seconds off her season best to claim 20th overall in the event.
The 100 freestyle saw six East Bay swimmers reach the finals, including four in the scoring finals. Lopez and Caitlin DeNise reached the A Final after posting new season bests in the prelims. Lopez followed with her third individual medal of the meet in the finals, breaking the school record she set in the prelims with her 51.31 second performance to take third. DeNise maintained her morning pace to take seventh and score another 23 points for the Pioneers.
Also competing in the 100 free finals were Karly Wasung and Erica Crain, who both reached the B Final and finished sixth and seventh, respectively, while setting new season bests on the day.Kameron Isaacs' morning swim produced another season best, while Jasmine Stowers andAlyssa Littlefield placed first and second, respectively, in the E Final.
In the 200 breaststroke, the Pioneers placed three swimmers into the finals, including team record holder Rachel Knowles, who came through again with a new program standard in the prelims to reach the A Final. There Knowles maintained her pace and claimed seventh place to 23 points to East Bay's growing total. Courtney Schwiesow and Makila Schuck joined Knowles in the finals, reaching the C Final with season bests in the prelims and dropping their times in the final to claim a one-two finish.
The Pioneers' only competitor in the 200 butterfly, Brittany Rojo took seven seconds off her season best and set a new program record, beating the old standard which had stood since 1990-91, by three seconds in the prelims. Rojo was rewarded for her hard work with a spot in the A Final where she took seventh place.
East Bay capped the 2013 championship meet with the 400 free relay where they missed another medal by just three-tenths of a second but finished fourth with a new school record time of 3:29.06.
Despite the lack of a diving team to add points to their total, the Pioneers finished almost 70 points ahead of fourth-place and No. 14 Simon Fraser. East Bay also beat out Cal Baptist, Fresno Pacific and Alaska Fairbanks, all of whom finished ahead of the Pioneers in 2012. With its 954 points, Cal State East Bay improved on last year's finish by more than 300 points and three places in the standings. Only perennial powerhouse No. 3 UC San Diego could beat the Pioneers this year, finishing with 1364.5 points, a point total nearly 300 lower than last season.
East Bay now waits to hear its NCAA Championships fate this week. The Pioneers finished the meet with 11 NCAA Championships “B” cuts, including several that are within tenths of a second of the automatic qualifying cuts and rank among the top times in Division II this season. The 2013 NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Mar. 6-9 at the CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala., as part of the 2013 Division II Winter National Championships Festival hosted by the Gulf South Conference.