The Canisius College synchronized swimming team will open the season at the Koessler Athletic Center Pool on Friday evening, as the host Golden Griffins face Incarnate Word. The dual will begin on Friday evening with figures portion followed by the solo, duet, trio, and team performances on Saturday afternoon.
Reflecting on last year, the Golden Griffins were satisfied with their overall performance and achievements. To begin the season, the Griffs had three swimmers selected to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic synchronized swimming team along with 40 swimmers from across the nation. Two of the three Griffs, senior Melissa Andrews and junior Jessica Mancini, return to this year's roster.
To open last year's schedule, the Griffs captured first-place at each meet. At the Boston University Invitational and Canisius Invitational, the team won in convincing fashion by sweeping the first two-spots in the solo, duet, and trio routines. At the Wheaton Invitational, the Golden Griffins shared first-place honors with reigning national champion Ohio State.
After close to a month away from action, the Golden Griffins returned to action at the ECAC Regional Championship. Sweeping each category at the conference championship, the host Griffs secured their 15th consecutive ECAC Regional Championship. In the victory, Canisius head coach Jill Wright clinched her tenth career ECAC title, six as a head coach and four as a former Griff.
The Golden Griffins concluded the season at the U.S. National Championship with a pair of bronze medal-winners in the team's fifth-place finish. Capturing medals for the Griffs were Svetlana Ponkratova in the A figures and Deanna DeSimone in the D figures. Ponkratova was also named an honorary All-American, along with Victoria Mintz for their contributions to the team's success in the regular and championship seasons.
Throughout the season, the duet of Ponkratova and Mintz captured first-place performances in two of the three regular-season meets. At the Wheaton Invitational, the team placed second overall with less than a point separating them from the top Buckeyes' team. The duet would place first at the ECAC Championship and sixth overall at the U.S. Nationals.
Satisfied with last year's achievements, the Golden Griffins' desire is to reach new heights this year. For the Griffs it goes beyond their 16th consecutive ECAC Championship, their focus is on the U.S. Collegiate National Championship.Scouting Incarnate Word
At the 2012 U.S. Collegiate National Championship, Incarnate Word recorded a program best-finish of second overall. The Cardinals came within five points of eventual-champion Ohio State, who claimed their 28th national title. The Cardinals captured gold medals in both the duet and team routines and silver medals in the trio and solo routines.
Prior to their second-place finish at the U.S. Collegiate Nationals, the Cardinals captured first place ahead of Florida and William & Mary at last year's South Region Championship. Incarnate Word secured first-place finishes in each event, including the top-three slots in the solo and trio events.
Incarnate Word's season was topped off with the selection of head coach Kim Wurzel-LoPorto as the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Coach of the Year. In 2000, Wurzel-LoPorto started the Incarnate Word program.
After opening the season at Canisius, the Cardinals will travel to the University of Arizona and University of Florida before returning to home to host Lindenwood Univeristy and Stanford University to finish the regular season. The Cardinals will look to defend their South Regional Championship followed by a trip to the U.S. Collegiate National Championship in Palo Alto, Calif.
This weekend's meeting will mark only the third dual in program history between the two squads. The last dual between the Golden Griffins and Cardinals was on Feb. 14, 2009 at the Koessler Athletic Center Pool. In the Valentine's Day meeting, the host Griffs defeated the Cardinals, 98-90. The first meeting between the squads came on the road on Feb. 9, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. The host Cardinals escaped with a 98-91 win over the Blue and Gold.