After strong showing at GMU, swimmers set for NC State
November 10, 2017 | Lynchburg, Va.
Two weeks after finishing second behind only defending College Club Swimming (CCS) National Champion Virginia at the George Mason Invitational on Oct. 28, Liberty University's first-year men's swimming & diving team will send 25 swimmers to Saturday's and Sunday's North Carolina State Invitational, which the Flames consider their regional championships.
"It is probably the biggest club-level collegiate meet on the East Coast for the entire year, other than nationals," Liberty Head Coach Parker Spencer said. "It will be a really high level of competition and I've definitely tapered the guys' workouts so they are going into this much fresher than they have for the other meets."
The Flames will be competing against swimmers from Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Elon, Georgia, George Mason, James Madison, Longwood, Lynchburg, Christopher Newport, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, NC State, Old Dominion, Tennessee-Knoxville, Virginia Commonwealth, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and William & Mary.
At the GMU meet, Liberty had multiple place winners both individually and as relay teams.
In the 200-meter freestyle relay, freshmen Ben Davidson, David Schafer, and Ethan Raub and sophomore Joseph Hall placed third in 1:44.72 behind Virginia's A and B teams but ahead of the host Patriots' A relay and UVa's C squad.
Raub won the 200 butterfly by nearly five seconds in 2:03.00 and edged the Cavaliers' Brian Rothemich by 0.14 in the 200 IM in 2:07.82. He also placed second in the 50 fly in 24.75.
Thomas Sonnery-Cottet, the Flames' sophomore triathlete standout, paced a 1-3-4 finish by the Flames in the 500 free, winning in 5:05.30 followed by teammates Hammond (third in 5:20.21) and Danny Fernandez (fourth in 5:21.54). Sonnery-Cottet finished second in the 200 free in 1:53.24 with Fernandez (1:57.36) and Hammond (1:58:59) placing sixth and seventh, respectively.
Davidson came in fourth in the 100 backstroke in 1:01.35. Davidson (28.21) and Cameron Foster (28.28) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 50 backstroke and Schafer claimed fourth placed in the 100 breast (1:04.80) and third in the 200 breast (2:28.48) followed by senior teammate Aaron Tate (fourth in 2:36.58).
Schafer won the 50 breast stroke in 29.07, four-hundredths of a second in front of Virginia's Nathanael Pilar, with Tate tying George Mason's Marston Li for fourth in 30.17.
Schafer, Raub, Davidson, and Hall teamed up for a third-place showing in the 400 free relay in 3:29.06 with Hammond, Sonnery-Cottet, Fernandez, and Foster finishing fifth in 3:44.58.
Hall placed second in the 50 free in 22.36, just .07 behind UVa's Ben Neubauer, with freshman Matthew Sonnan taking ninth in 23.65. He was also swimmer-up in the 100 IM in 57.08 with Tate finishing ninth in 1:01.15, and the 100 free in 48.94, just .09 behind William & Mary's Christian Harris with Sonnan placing ninth in 53.01.
Sonnan, Carson Faix, Samule Kappler, and Tate combined to finish fourth in the 200 free relay in 1:38.02 with the Flames' foursome of Hammond, Fernandez, Chase Plaster, and Sonnery-Cottet taking sixth in 1:39.29.
This past weekend, Liberty's men's diving team traveled to its first competition, the 2017 Richmond Area Diving Invitational, an AAU meet hosted by the University of Richmond. The Flames' foursome of seniors Caleb Able and Matthew McDonald, sophomore transfer Kyle Blackwood, and freshman Tathan Bennett all placed in the top five individually.
Spencer is hopeful they can give Liberty the advantage it may need competing at the CCS National Championships in Atlanta in April.
"I'm feeling very confident with the guys we have on the team now," he said. "The top three schools last year, none of them had divers and it's a huge opportunity for us. Those guys can get us a ton of points."
Spencer won't be making the trip to Raleigh, N.C., for the meet as he will leave the team under the watch of Assistant Coach Heath Grishaw.
"Heath and I are working out some good strategy right now in terms of spreading our athletes out," Spencer said. "Right now, we have certain strokes that many of our guys are good at, so we need to spread them out to maximize the amount of points we can score."
Spencer will be in the Pacific Coast city of Cabo, Mexico, competing in Ironman Los Cabos and striving to qualify for the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, with a top-three showing in his 25-29-year-old age group.