The College of Staten Island men’s and women’s swimming and diving team embarked on their respective seasons over three months ago, and the CUNYAC portion of that schedule concludes beginning tomorrow at the annual CUNYAC Postseason Championship Meet at Lehman College, and the Dolphins could not be more ready. Both sides enjoyed competitive seasons, and the CUNYAC Championship promises to be a heavily-competitive one when it kicks off tomorrow and runs straight through to Saturday morning.
The three-day event begins tomorrow at 1pm at Lehman’s Aquatics Center with diving competition, and after events on Friday also beginning at 1pm, the Championship concludes on Saturday at 9am, ending with medals and trophy presentations. CSI hopes to be a big part of that festivity come Saturday, with CSI favored to be in fierce competition for individual medals and team glory.
The CSI men will try to bring home their second championship of the year this weekend. The Dolphins earned the CUNYAC’ Regular Season Championship by way of their perfect 4-0 run through the conference this season, and have plenty of reasons to feel excited about their chances. Perennial standouts like Danila Novikov, Yury Zimarev, and Timur Rahkimov all concluded near-perfect seasons, and will be looked at as favorites in every race they are entered for. Four-time Rookie of the Week Timothy Sweeney will also factor in, as the freshman has only lost individual races in CUNYAC meets to his own teammates, otherwise going perfect, and together with fellow first-year standout Derek Villa, the two hope to power up CSI’s point totals.
When focus shifts to diving, past medal winner John Pignatelli will join his teammates on the boards as a favorite in the competition. As a unit, CSI should be at the top of the heat sheets in relay events as well. All told, no matter where the Dolphins line up, they expect to contend for medals every step of the way. The question now lies in whether CSI has the depth and stamina to bring home their first postseason title since 2005.
“For the first time in my coaching career here, our men have a legitimate shot at coming home with the championship thanks to our depth and talent from top to bottom,” said Head Coach Michael Ackalitis, who joined the team midway through the 2011-12 campaign. “The team’s general morale and excitement is at an all-time high and we cannot wait to begin.”
The CSI women’s team has also had plenty to cheer about and that should bleed into the Championship as well. CSI ripped through a 4-2 overall CUNYAC campaign this year, and even though the team is expecting to finish near the middle of the pack in overall point total, the thoughts of finishing the season strong are at the forefront going in.
“We are hoping to have some first place finishes and some of our personal best times exposed at this meet on the women’s side,” said Ackalitis. “The team has been working very hard at making this our premier meet and I expect us to have a great team effort this week. This should create a positive atmosphere and help us go out there and do what we have to do and compete at a better level.”
Look for CSI’s Dakota Dawkins and Jessica Pifalo to contend at the top of their competitive racers, while freshman Samantha Escobedo should make plenty of waves as well. On the diving platforms, past medal winners April Bartlett and Stephanie Collyer will be hard to deny as favorites to win medals again on both the one-meter and three-meter boards.
All legs of the CUNYAC Championship at Lehman College are open to the general public and are free for all spectators. Tickets, however, will be needed to gain access each day. Tickets are available through the CUNYAC website here.