BOGACZYK: Herd Swimmers Use Last-Event Success for Victory
Wanner Shines in Home Debut
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – It was a swim meet that was like those old Maxwell House coffee TV commercials … good to the very last drop.
In its home-opening meet at Frederick Fitch Natatorium on Friday night, Marshall’s 2015-16 team made a theatrical, smoke-driven entrance. And three hours later – you might say when the smoke cleared – the Herd needed a last-event victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay and got it.
Lauren Cowher, Maggie Stovall, Gloriya Mavrova and Chloe Parsemain gave Marshall the triumph with a 3:32.48 clocking, enabling the Herd to edge Cincinnati, 126-117 in the tri-meet. Marshall topped VMI, 125-20. The Bearcats downed VMI, 205-20.
It also was a special night for Herd freshman Caroline Wanner, who in her Fitch debut set the pool record in the 400 individual medley in 4:25.76. That was more than a 9-second improvement over her third-place time in the season-opening West Virginia State Games two weeks ago in Morgantown.
“It was down to the last relay,” said Parsemain, a junior from Fos-sur-Mer, France. “When I touched into the water, I thought, ‘I know I’m stronger than them … No way they’re going to catch us … I got it, I got it, I got it.’”
The poolside spectators and teams knew who won the 400 free, but when Parsemain finished the last leg, she was disappointed. The timing board had an error that showed the Herd second. In a flash, that was changed.
“I come up and look up at the board and said, ‘I thought we won,’” Parsemain said. “Someone said ‘Second.’ We needed to win … and then it changed.
“Before I go, we’re into the relay and Cowher’s really on it, and then Stovall, a freshman, is she going to get it? She was on it. And Gloriya gives me about a half a leg (lead). I’m golden. I know I’m faster than them … I swam faster in my relay leg than I did in the individual (a 52.63 compared to 53.60 for third place in the 100 free) … team player, I guess.”
The Herd led the Bearcats 112-95 entering the final two events, and Marshall’s fourth-year coach, Bill Tramel, had figured out all of the possibilities with his fingers crossed.
“We knew Cincinnati was going to go top-three in the 200 breaststroke (the second last event),” Tramel said. “That gives them 16 points. We get three (for fourth and fifth places). So, we’re ahead 115-111 going into that last relay.
“If Cincinnati wins that, they win the meet by one point. We won it and get 11 points and they go second-third (for six points).”
Mavrova and Cowher took the top two spots in the 50 free, while Wanner and Emma Lockyer were 1-2 in the 400 IM. Another Herd freshman, Maddie Schaffer, won the 200 butterfly.
The 5-foot-6 Wanner, of Stafford, Va., broke the pool record in the 400 IM that had been set in 2013 by Kathryn Painter of Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Pa. Painter, now a collegiate freshman at Kentucky, had the mark of 4:27.32.
The Herd team record in the 400 IM belongs to sophomore Nele Albers, with a 4:18.23 set last February at the Conference USA Championships in Knoxville, Tenn. That’s one of 14 team marks (out of 22) the 2014-15 Herd established.
“I had no idea,” Wanner said when asked if she knew she had cracked the Fitch standard in the 400 IM. “I really didn’t even know what the pool record was.
“And when I stopped at the wall and my teammates were all cheering, I heard someone say, ‘That’s the pool record,’ and I’m like, ’Oh.’ I’d looked at the team record before, but hadn’t thought to look at pool records.”
And although she set her record in the fifth event of the night, Wanner was just as enthused about the meet’s finish.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “We all knew it came down to that last relay, so we’re all cheering really hard. It was intense, really intense.”
Tramel’s team has a quick turnaround, going to Davidson next Friday and Saturday to face Conference USA foe Old Dominion and the host Wildcats.
“This was an absolute great team effort and win,” the Herd coach said. “Meets like this are kind of what I live for, but I secretly hate them as well because it comes down to the last relay. But I live for this stuff. It’s a lot of fun.
“It came down to winner-take-all … whoever wins that last relay wins the meet and that’s about as exciting as a college swimming meet can be. Our divers really, really came through, winning both boards … Our swimmers did a great job – just a great, great team win tonight.
“Wanner, she’s a freshman, and she’s certainly got a ways to go, but it’s nice to get her name up on the record board in the first meet. So, we’re certainly looking forward to more things to come from her.”
The Herd’s only two other home meets at “The Fred” in 2015-16 are scheduled Jan. 24 against James Madison, and the Feb. 5-6 Marshall Invitational, which also includes Ohio and Toledo.