The Seton Hall Pirates men and women’s swimming and diving teams will open the 2014-15 season on Wednesday, Oct. 8 as the Pirates take on rival-Montclair.
Montclair will host the Pirates’ swimming team at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, while the Hall will welcome the divers, hosting the diving portion of the day’s events which will also begin at 5 p.m.
Diving is headlined by senior Ben Mitchell and junior Gabi Signorelli, both of whom are coming off tremendous seasons that saw both of them achieve honors including most outstanding divers and Big East championship titles, the first in program history to achieve such accolades. Head coach Ron Farina enters his 15th season with the Pirates and is keeping last year’s historic mark a goal heading into this season for the duo.
“Our ultimate goal at the end of the year is Big East championship,” Farina said.
Included in that goal he added is individual championships, both set of expectations will be tested by the largest group of freshmen in the program’s history. Seventeen, to be exact. Eleven men and six women will all open their college careers on Wednesday’s season-opener. For Farina, he couldn’t be happier with the newcomers that will look to shoulder some of the loss to those lost via graduation.
“We were able to fill a lot of holes that we needed with all of them,” he said.
Noah Yanchulis, of Arnold, Md., who will compete in freestyle and individual medley, leads a versatile freshman class. Zohar Suslovich of Israel ranked atop his age group at the Israeli swimming championships, will compete in freestyle and backstroke. Other freshmen that could step up for the blue and white men’s team include Matt Zebrowski (butterfly), Sean Sali (breaststroke).
On the women’s side of things, Kylene Ronayne, Courtney Regan and Sydney Simpson will accompany fellow-freshmen Kat Carson and Sam Shirtliff, making for an impressive addition to the Pirates women’s team that returns with eight underclassman and 13 upperclassman (9 juniors, 1 red-shirt junior and 3 seniors).
Two of those seniors in distance freestyler, Sarah Dougherty of Wateford, N.Y., and Megan Mostoller, a breaststroke and sprint freestyler of Cheshire, Conn., will serve as team captains. While the men will be led by seniors James Logan of Willingford, Pa., and Richard Lessard of Wethersfield, Conn.
Captains including Logan will look to have strong final seasons as they head into the opening of their senior campaign, Farina also sees other program veterans who will have a chance at breakthrough seasons. Two he said he is expecting to see some breakout seasons from for the men’s team include distance swimmer and sophomore, Seth Underwood and backstroke swimmer and junior, Tim Bosse, adding that there is a lot of talent amongst some of the returning swimmers this season.
For the women, junior Cora Meehan, a freestyle and backstroke swimmer will look to be a strong piece of the women’s swimming team this season. While sophomore Melody Bush will look to solidify herself as a top backstroke swimmer in the conference according to Farina.
Overall, Farina is impressed with all of the talent ahead of his team’s opening home and away meets. “We have a nice of blend of upperclassman and influx of talent at the freshmen level,” he said.
Simply put, the expectations for the year according to Farina remain the same as last year. “To improve upon last year,” he said. He added that pushing both sides to continue working hard and getting more competitive in the conference is very possible.
“I want to get to the point that, every year you don’t know who’s going to win,” he said. “We’ll always have a shot at winning the league championship.”
The Pirates will look to do just that when they open the year against Montclair in a unique home and away meeting for the Hall and Red Hawks.
The Red Hawks will look to open their season strong as freshmen Greg Bauwens of Malboro and Samuel Mitchell of Medford will make their college debuts in South Orange for the men. Women will send lone-diver in Pitman, N.J., native Siobhan Ryan.
On the swimming side of things, head coach Brian McLaughlin’s group enters with seven upperclassmen women and lone upperclassmen for the men in senior butterfly, Alan Buob.
The blue and white will look to try and reach some of head coach Ron Farina’s goals on Wednesday as they take on Montclair at 5 p.m. at Montclair for the swimming portion of the meet, and inside Walsh Gymnasium pool for the diving portion, also at 5 p.m.
Neal McHale can be reached at email@example.com. or on twitter @Nealmchale.