The Allegheny men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted Grove City College on Saturday, Oct. 23 in the first home meet of their fall season. The men lost a close match, 145-135, while the women tied their future Presidents’ Athletic Conference rival 142-142.
On the men’s side, the Gators were led by Gavin Stuckey, ’25, and Pierre Jaeggi, ’23, who each had two individual first place finishes before teaming up to earn a first place in the 200 medley relay. Jaeggi also earned first place in the 200 freestyle relay. Individually, Stuckey won both the 100 and 200 Freestyle events, while Jaeggi won in the 100 and 200 Butterfly events.
In the women’s meet, Katya Pryshchenko, ’25, Ariana Clark, ’23, Maggie Baham, ’23, Maggie Bilquin, ’23, Hannah Tonsmann, ’23, and Sadie Brown, ’22, each earned first place in an individual event in the full team effort. Brown shined with a pair of individual first place finishes as well as two in relay events. Clark and Tonsmann also captured first in relay events as Clark earned one and Tonsmann earned two.
Head coach Max Niggel remarked on the added energy his team felt to be competing at home for the first time this academic year, as well as the toughness his team showed in the meet.
“We had a great time, the atmosphere on the deck was great, the swims were good, people rose to the occasion and did what they could,” Niggel said. “At the end of the day, sometimes the numbers just don’t fall in your favor, but they handled that pressure very well, and they still came together as a team and put forth an awesome effort.”
Jaeggi added that he saw this meet as a building block for the team as they continue to strengthen their relationships as the season progresses.
“This last meet I really felt that the team came together, we were all cheering each other on for every event,” Jaeggi said. “We all tried our best, it was really awesome, everyone came out of the pool, they were all proud and that was great to see.”
The home opener from the Gators came one week after their season opener at the Clarion Fall Classic. There, Allegheny matched up against Clarion University and Grove City to begin their competitive season. The men finished second in their first meet scoring 327.5 points while the women finished third with 410.5 points.
As it was the first of their season, the Gators looked to use the Clarion Fall Classic as a way to get back into competition after having just one meet all season last year. Moreover, the team was able to get back into the water to work towards new personal record times.
Niggel mentioned the extra effort it was going to take for his swimmers to get back to mid-season form.
“We just need more practice with getting into the rhythm of competing weekly on top of our weekly grind and all the things they have to balance academically,” Niggel said.
This rhythm mentioned by Niggel is seen as a major factor for the team, however the swimmers are confident in themselves and their teammates, and do not see much room for improvement among the team.
Jaeggi remarked on this, as well as the high energy of the team and how special that was this early in the season.
“I think we have a great team atmosphere, we are all coming together, we are all cheering each other on,” Jaeggi said. “I can’t really find much to change.”
Clark mentioned that the most important thing the team can do now is continue to bond and form strong relationships.
“More practice, more team bonding and just getting in the water is going to help us improve,” Clark said.
As their fall season continues the Gators look to improve their times before the winter when their conference schedule begins. After a year with only one total meet, the team is ready to show their conference rivals what they can do come February.
Furthermore the team is excited to be competing at all this season as well as training towards a common goal.
Niggel spoke on his team’s resilience and how thankful his team is to be able to compete for the Gators again.
“We are in a really good position and we’re getting back to having meets and having a normal season,” Niggel said. “We’re swimming fast and having fun while doing it and we’re just really appreciative to have a full season and train again for regular season meets.”
Looking ahead for the Gators, both the men and women will be hosting another future PAC rival in Saint Vincent College on Friday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. This meet will take place at the Mellon Pool in the David V. Wise Center. Gator fans can watch the team take on the Saint Vincent Bearcats through GatorTV on the Allegheny athletics website.