When Itai De La Vega notched an NCAA B Cut out of nowhere last year and vaulted to the upper reaches of UB's depth chart, we coined him 'SWIM DLV' (unfortunately 'Swim This Way' doesn't have the right ring.)
When Mason Miller committed as an underaged senior and then went out and finished top five in multiple events at the Ohio State Championships, we were plenty excited.
Tonight, each claimed individual MAC Championships (Miller's second of the meet) and UB records, with De La Vega going a step further, setting a new conference record. UB's 400 medley relay also set a new program record.
In the team standings, UB maintains its separation from fourth-place Southern Illinois, showing it belongs, if not maybe this year with frontrunner and host EMU, with Missouri State, who benefited today from no diving points. UB has three in the final of the three meter dive, contested tomorrow, and placed two more in the consolation today, though those points won't be added to team scores until the entire event is completed.
With just one day to go, Buffalo's third-place total is 404 points, immediately behind Missouri State's 439. Given the diving advantage, second place will likely come down to who scores more points in the pool tomorrow.
Miller was second at the halfway point in winning the 100 butterfly, perhaps his signature event, but had the fastest closing 50 to take the MAC crown. Hudson Carroll, Zach Towers, and Andrew Cole-Goins all qualified for the consolation, and earned valuable points despite finishing 14th, 15th, and 16th in the event.
De La Vega's 100 breast championship was dominant, as he beat last year's champion Isaac Springer by more than half a second, swimming both the fastest first and second 50s in the race. Scott Huang also made the final, finishing fifth, and Garrett Clarke took the consolation. All three hit NCAA B Cuts.
Amusingly, Clarke passed Josh Meints on the UB All-Time list. If not for De La Vega and Huang, he would today be the UB record holder. All three swimmers - who are now the three fastest in program history - return next year.
In other events, UB had a man in the final and two in the consolation of the 400 IM, where Charles Barry finished fourth, hitting the B cut, Billy Patrum tenth, and Reid Zyniecki 12th. The Bulls lost some ground in the 200 free, where Antonio Lanzi, Martin Leigh, and Eric Jensen all made the consolation, but Missouri State placed three in the final. Lanzi did hit a B cut there. The 100 back saw only Hudson Carroll qualify, but he did take fourth.
In the final event, UB was actually first heading into Lanzi's anchor leg of the 400 medley relay, but the junior was passed by swimmers from both Eastern Michigan and Southern Illinois as the Bulls placed third. Despite that and Carroll's opening leg, slowest of the three-deep top tier, the Bulls still broke the former program record, set in 2013, by nearly half a second.
Tomorrow will close out the Championships.