The gaps in the team scores have widened, and halfway chronologically doesn't mean halfway through the meet before heavier days tonight and tomorrow, but the UB Men are still sitting second at the MAC Championships at Eastern Michigan.
An expected strong show of depth in the 50 free and a nice surprise from the divers in the 1 meter were the highlights of the night. In the former, freshman Mason Miller barely touched out Antonio Lanzi for the conference championship, both far ahead of third place. UB also racked up plenty further points in the consolation, where Aaron Durrence, Itai De La Vega, Jon Ekas, and Eric Jensen all earned points. Only Miami also had more than two point-earners in the 50 free, and UB's total might have been even higher had Aaron Durrence not lost a swimoff for the last final qualifying spot. Both Miller and Lanzi hit 'B' cuts in the final.
In the diving, all of Buffalo's divers came in with no provided marks, but UB did well to mitigate Eastern Michigan's massive advantage in the well, as three Bulls made the final (along with five Eagles) and two more earned consolation points. All told, Nick Rodriguez, Troy Birdsall, and Dan Roche all hit A cuts that qualify them for NCAA Zone Diving Championships in a few weeks, and UB earned 56 points as everyone but Derek Linebaugh, who made the final anyway, improved upon their prelim scores in the final round.
In other events, UB had mixed results in the 200 IM, where Scott Huang failed to qualify for the final, but Garrett Clarke and Zach Towers both swam well to also make the consolation. Huang would hit the NCAA B cut in the consolation, but whether his slower swim was due to injury or something else, we'll need to watch out for the 400 IM, where in normal circumstances he'd be a strong favorite.
In the 500 free Buffalo found a single entrant in both the finals and the consolation, as Reid Zyniecki took sixth and Charles Barry tenth. I was hoping for at least one more point-earner in this event, but the strong showing from diving allays that a bit.
In the day's final relay UB continued their strong showing, finishing a narrow second to Southern Illinois in the 200 free. Given Buffalo's results and Miami's four finalists in the 50 free that's a bit of a surprise, but SIU did break the pool record, and UB gained a small amount of ground on EMU and MSU in that event.
After two days, UB sits second, within striking distance of EMU but not too far ahead of Missouri State, who should look more dangerous considering they don't have diving, and we're about to get heavier dosages of swimming events. I don't think Southern Illinois or Miami are much of a threat to crack the top three after Buffalo was in a tier with them last year, but UB will need strong depth performances in every event and multiple further champions to really keep pace with MSU and EMU today and tomorrow.
1. Eastern Michigan University 279
2. University at Buffalo 247
3. Missouri State University 225
4. Southern Illinois University 181
5. Miami University (Ohio) 179
6. Ball State University 77
7. University of Evansville 74