8th Annual Shark Invitational
Second-year head coach Ben Hewitt and the Nova Southeastern University men’s and women’s swim teams are days away from the 2017-18 season, with the Sharks set to make their anticipated debut by hosting the 2017 Shark Invitational from October 13-14. The eighth annual event features a number of premiere programs who have placed among the Top-10 in recent national championships including Carson-Newman, Florida Southern, Indianapolis, Indian River State College, Keiser, West Florida and Wingate.
“While we hosted the Shark Invite last year in the form of the All-Florida Invitational, we knew that was going to be a one-year event so we set out to retool it to give it a new focus and flavor,” Hewitt said. “This competition has the caliber to be the Meet of the Week. This year’s invitational features some of the best Division II programs in the country, along with NJCAA Champions Indian River and upstart Keiser, whose men finished third at the NAIA Championships in only their first year as a program.”
The Sharks are coming off one of their most successful seasons in program history. The men’s team capped off the season by placing third, while the women’s team placed fourth at the NCAA Division II National Championship. The Sharks also crowned four individual National Champions – Anton Lobanov (100 and 200 Breast), Franco Lupoli (1,000 Free) and Emma Wahlstrom (200 Free). Both Lobanov and Wahlstrom were named Sunshine State Conference Swimmers of the Year, while Hewitt earned SSC Women’s Coach of the Year honors. Prior to nationals, the Sharks swept the SSC Championship titles for the second time in program history. The accomplishment marked the first time a SSC school has claimed both team titles in the same year more than once. Top returners, Lupoli and Courtney DeVeny swept the SSC Swimmer of the Meet awards at the event.
The Eagles enter 2017-18 following a strong showing at last year’s National Championship, garnering 30 All-American honors in 12 events. The women eventually capped the championship by finishing 17th, their best finish in program history. Meanwhile, the men’s side placed 26th. During the season, both men’s and women’s teams placed third at Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championship.
Fellow SSC competitor Florida Southern turned in yet another strong campaign a year ago, with the men’s team capturing fourth at nationals. Senior Marco Palacios will be missed after earning six All-American honors thanks to Top-10 finishes in the 100 and 200 Back, 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays, and the 200 and 400 Medley Relays. At the SSC Championship, the Mocs placed second on the men’s side and third on the women’s.
The Greyhounds had a season to remember a year ago following an 11th-place finish by the men’s team at the National Championship, its best finish in 10 years. The men were led by All-American Rodrigo Codo Berti, who garnered four accolades during his sophomore campaign that featured a fourth-place finish in the 200 backstroke. The Greyhounds also have a promising diver in Great Lakes Valley Conference Diver of the Year Josh Zylstra, as he placed ninth on the three meter board in his first trip to the championship. Both men’s and women’s teams placed third at GLVC Championship in 2016-17.
The Pioneers continued their dominance in the 2016-17 season, as the men’s team collected their 43 consecutive NJCAA National Championship. The women, meanwhile, captured their 39thNJCAA Championship overall to give Indian River yet another sweep at the Junior College National Championship. As expected following their impressive run, the Pioneers also swept every national award a year ago. Nick Loomis and Osianna McReed were named Swimmers of the Year on their respective sides. Robbie Costine and Adrianna Warning earned both Diver of the Year awards. To top it off, Sion Brinn raked in Men’s and Women’s Swim Coach of the Year.
In its first year of existence, the Keiser men’s swimming team opened many eyes across the country by placing third at the NAIA National Championship. With only one added year under its belt, the women’s side earned a respective 13th-place finish at the national championship. The men’s side was paced by Lukas Macek, who won two individual titles. On the heels of the program’s impressive debut, Adam Epstein was named NAIA National Coach of the Year. Jane Lev led the way for the women’s side with a fourth-place finish and a school-record in the 1650 Freestyle.
In year number four as a program, West Florida’s women’s swimming and diving team claimed sixth at the NCAA Division II Championship, crowning six individual national champions in the process. Senior Theresa Michalak was named CSCAA Swimmer of the Year after winning three individual titles. Fellow senior, Monica Amaral, was named CSCAA Diver of the Year after repeating as national champion in both diving events. Prior to the national championship, the Lady Argos placed third at the New South Intercollegiate Swimming Championship.
The Bulldogs return to the pool following another solid season, as both the men’s and women’s programs ranked among the Top-6 at last year’s National Championship. The Lady Bulldogs captured the national title in the 800 Freestyle Relay. Along with the relay title, Alexis Divelbiss led the women’s team with silver medals in the 100 Free, 200 IM, 400 IM and as a member of the 400 Freestyle Relay. Furthermore, Divelbiss collected a bronze medal in the 400 Medley Relay. Leif-Henning Kluever led the men’s side by individually finishing fifth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 200 Free. He added to his accolades by taking second with the 400 Freestyle Relay, fourth with the 800 Freestyle Relay and sixth with the 200 Freestyle Relay. Both men’s and women’s team finished runner-up at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championship.
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Courtesy of Darren Hendricks