Divers remain team’s strength for women

Two seniors and one junior have been chosen as captains of the 2013 Fredonia State women’s swimming and diving team.

Kristen Champoux and Jenni Smith are four-year members of the program, while Stephanie Rosa is beginning her third year.

Champoux and Smith will compete in distance freestyle races while Rosa’s specialty is the backstroke.

The Blue Devils finished third at last year’s SUNYAC meet. They open their season at noon Saturday against Edinboro at the Steele Hall Natatorium.

“The outlook,” head coach Arthur Wang said, “is to be as competitive as we have in the past. Our goal is to have all-conference performers and NCAA performers.”

The diving portion of the team remains its strength. It is also the area where Wang has a large void to fill.

This season’s diving group will be led by the senior trio of Ashley Keller, Katelyn Haley and Breena Cogliandro. All three were NCAA provisional qualifiers last year.

Keller earned two honorable mention All-American certificates at the 2013 NCAA Division III championship. She was 12th in the 1-meter and 15th in the 3-meter events at the NCAA meet. She was also selected 2013 SUNYAC Female Diver of the Meet after finishing second in the 3-meter and then setting a meet, conference and school record of 485.35 points to win the 1-meter.

Haley was third off both boards and earned Second Team All SUNYAC recognition. Cogliandro was fifth off both boards. Both competed at the NCAA zone meet, yet were unable to advance to nationals.

Joining the Blue Devils diving program is freshman Samantha Kowalewski.

The group’s key loss is Sarah Ficarro, a three-time SUNYAC Female Diver of the Meet until she was unseated last year by Keller. In four seasons, Ficarro won six SUNYAC diving titles and earned seven All-American certificates. She is back with the team this season as a volunteer assistant coach.

Wang likes what he’s seen of his distance freestylers and breaststrokers, including junior freestyler Ellie Brion and breast stroke specialists junior Missy Mazurek and sophomore Lauren Goeing.

Top newcomers are freshman Danielle Dembrow and senior Larissa Dobson, a transfer from Division II Edinboro. Both will also participate in the breaststroke.

In addition to Ficarro, three other 2013 all-conference honorees have departed, including two seniors from last year’s team, Stephanie Andrasek and Emily Ginty. They are among the seven seniors who graduated in May, leaving behind a whole new group of leaders.

“They are going to be learning as the season goes on,” Wang said of this year’s team. “They are going to have to all be more responsible. They all have the talent (yet will) just have to work hard enough.”