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UB Men's Swimming and Diving to show off youth, depth at MAC Championships

UB Athletics

I don't need much of an intro here. Remember last week? The women of UB Swimming and Diving went into Michigan, raced for a few days, won a bunch of races?

This week, the men do something similar, except they go into Ohio, as the Championships are hosted at the SPIRE Institute, basically the MAC's winter home. Cool beans. Let's preview by discipline, as before:

Note: I don't have the official entry sheets for the Championships yet, so I'm just going off the MAC's top times of the year. Not everyone will be entered. But I can't wait longer to get this preview up.

Freestyle

The Men's team is very different from the women's in that it will have multiple swimmers gaining points in nearly every event, but has few clear favorites like Megan Burns, Jess Powers, and Spencer Rodriguez. The depth looks better in part because the MAC has one fewer program on the Men's side, but it's still there.

In the shortest and fastest races the key names to know are Oliver Patrouch (FR) and Antonio Lanzi (JR). In the 50 free the two are seeded 9th and 18th, but in a race that short anything can happen. Crank the distance up a bit, and Martin Leigh (SO) should be a contender as well. All three would similarly be seeded just outside of the championship-heat of the 100, but anything can happen.

Starting to get into the longer races, Patrouch drops out and Matt Bitara (SO) enters. The 200 free is a better situation for UB overall, with Leigh sitting fifth, Bitara 10th, and Lanzi 14th in a tightly-packed field.

The longest races bring in a whole new bunch of names, and chances for UB to really excel. Billy Patrum (JR), Charles Barry (SO), and Reid Zyniecki (SO) are all firmly in the points in the 500, and Barry and Zyniecki look in great shape to earn big points in the 1650 even after reigning champ Dan O'Connor graduated from the Bulls last year. Callum Liddiard should also get points there.

Backstroke

The men really are the flip side of the women, who were a blink of an eye from sweeping the freestyle events. This week, Buffalo's best results will come in the other disciplines. In the backstroke, there's a chance for finalists in both the 100 and 200.

In the shorter race, Hudson Carroll (FR) stands a great chance of making the finals, while Eric Jensen (SO), Jon Ekas (FR), and Bitara could all get into the points, while in the 200 Bitara and Barry look in great shape to challenge for #2 and #3 and Ekas could easily make the final.

Breaststroke

I wouldn't be surprised by champions anywhere, though Missouri State looks like an absolute Machine, but Itai De La Vega (FR) in the 100 Breast is UB's best bet, and has a decent lead on the field in terms of seeding. As long as he's peaking at this meet, chances are good. Garrett Clarke (FR) has a good shot at the finals and Scott Huang (SO) at the consolation.

SWIM DelaVega SWIMDLV

In the 200, enter Scott Huang. Dude is a beast and somehow only a sophomore. He'll like be top-three in the event. Clarke should be in the championship heat and De La Vega in the consolation, as well.

Butterfly

There are a TON of points coming in the butterfly. TONS.

Three Bulls are in great shape in the 100 fly. Patrouch is less than half a second out of the top seed, and Andrew Cole-Goins (SO) also has a good shot at the final. Martin Leigh should also earn points in the consolation.

UB could also put three in the 200 fly final, and they're all names you know already. Matt Bitara has another great chance at a podium, and Billy Patrum and Charles Barry each have top-eight times in the MAC this year. Cole-Goins should also make the consolation.

Individual Medleys

Maybe you noticed when the same names kept popping up, but UB's got some good chances in the medleys, especially in the longer race. In the 200 IM Huang and Bitara will almost certainly get points, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them move up from their current 11th- and 12th-best times in the conference.

The 400 IM is another event that could see three Bulls in the final. That means points. Barry, Patrum, and Huang should all be seeded in the top eight, though Missouri State is likely going to dominate the event. Zyniecki and Liddiard could easily also make the points.

Relays

UB's lack of MAC-topping speed hurts them in the relays, where freestyle depth is heavily weighted and one or two great legs can swing a race:

200 free: UB with 5th-best time

400 free: 4th-best

800 free: 4th-best

200 medley: 4th-best

400 medley: 5th-best

Divers

Nobody seems to care enough about divers, and it hurts me, even though to me the discipline is just watching them do their thing and waiting for a number to pop up on the screen. All I can tell you is that Cade Bennett (SO) and Derek Linebaugh (JR) are UB's two best, and Kristian Santos (FR) likely the third. Bennett has been better in the 3-meter, where he set the school record this year, while Linebaugh has a season-best a touch better in the 1-meter. I have no clue how they stack up to the MAC.

***

If UB had two more great freestyle swimmers, they could put together a really excellent championships. But the lack of depth there hurts each and every one of the relays, where the most points are scored.

The men will mitigate that weakness in two areas the women's team can't match yet: in almost every event they will have two student-athletes earning points, frequently placing three or in the championship heat, and it seems their divers are in a little better position to earn points. It was on the boards last week that EMU jumped past the women.

Regardless of the results here, I hope you were paying attention throughout to how old this team is. This team is losing only Eric Forrester and John Nord, neither of whom will be big players at this meet, and only Lanzi, Patrum, and Linebaugh are even juniors. The team is loaded for two-three further years of improvement.

For now, though, it's this week in Geneva, OH that matters. Go Bulls!