When York College swimming coach Greg Doyle took over the school’s programs, one of the goals was trying to unseat perennial conference champion Mary Washington.
The Eagles have had a choke hold on the Capital Athletic Conference titles, having won every men’s swimming conference title since the 1999-2000 season. Mary Washington has 22 CAC men’s crowns in total and has captured all 26 of the conference’s women’s titles.
The coach, in his second season with York, has an ambitious time frame for getting the Spartans to break those streaks.
“Mary Washington is the leader, both men and women, but I think we're slowly making those moves to approach that championship title,” Doyle said. “This team is champing at the bit to make (its) presence be known. If not this year, I think it’s coming in the very near future. I’m going to put a one-to-three year limit. I think the very near future we’re going to surprise Mary Washington and others in the area.”
With the help of some names familiar in York-Adams swim circles, the Spartans are making serious strides toward that goal.
The men’s team is already atop the record books at York. The 11-0 men's start is the best in school history, and is already two wins better than the undefeated 2006-07 squad.
Those 11 straight victories also broke the school record of 10 straight set by the 2009-10 team. That team ended the year 10-1 overall and 5-1 in the CAC.
Local leaders: Freshman Jesse Tate has provided some of the depth that Doyle credits for the success of this year's team. Tate was home schooled during his high school days, but competed in the pool as a member of the Central York swim team.
In his debut season, Tate has already emerged as one of the CAC’s top talents. The former Panther leads the team and has the second-fastest time in the conference in the 50 butterfly (24.70 seconds), 100 fly (:51.70), 200 fly (1:56.27) and 200 individual medley (1:56.69).
He is also tied for the team lead in individual victories with 13, having picked up a pair of those wins on Jan. 14 in a meet against Frostburg State and Salem International.
Senior Ian Kruper, a York Suburban grad, has also been finding the podium consistently for the Spartans.
“Every meet, the support he has, being a York-born and bred individual, it’s a special place for him to really shine,” Doyle said of Kruper, who began his collegiate career at Rochester before transferring to York.
“Ian, being a veteran swimmer and having been around this area ... he’s willing to finish out his last and final year strong. He wants to do well, and the way he’s training he will do well.”
Kruper captured the 200 freestyle (2:04.02) and 100 free (55.63) races Jan. 14. He has seven individual victories on the season and also has a team-leading seven runner-up finishes.
Schrieber shining: Junior Morgan Schrieber, the defending conference champ in the 200 backstroke and 100 back, is another reason the Spartans are making waves. For his recent efforts, Schreiber was named the CAC Men’s Swimmer of the Week on Tuesday.
On the season, Schreiber is tied with Tate for the top spot on the team in individual victories with 13. He also owns the top times in the CAC in the 50 back (:24.59), 100 back (:50.64) and 200 back (1:53.22).
Women’s team: The Spartans' women’s squad is also excelling at 9-2 overall and 3-0 in the CAC. Their conference mark has them on par with the Eagles as well, and on a similar collision course as the men’s squad.
Leading the way for York, which has won six straight, is reigning CAC Rookie of the Year Maddy Mann. Mann leads the Spartans with 18 wins and has already claimed conference swimmer of the week honors once this season. She is also currently near or atop the CAC time sheets in a number of events this season.
Danielle Werner is also back for York and has already racked up seven victories on the season.
Also helping to provide leadership to what Doyle calls an up-and-coming underclassmen group is local graduate Rachel Spaulding. The Dover High School product comes to the Spartans after transferring from West Chester for her junior season.
This season, Spaulding has produced five runner-up finishes and was a part of school history on Nov. 19 at the Franklin & Marshall Invitational. During that meet, the Spartans 800 free relay team of Mann, Eanna Hehir-Keys, Spaulding and Andrea Sturgis set a new school record with a time of 7:56.43.
“She’s really stepped up as well for sprint freestyle and other events,” Doyle said of Spaulding.
Up next: If the Spartans’ special season is to continue, they'll have to first get past Marymount and Washington & Lee in a quad meet to be held Saturday in York. The Spartans will celebrate Senior Day before the meet, which is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
Washington and Lee is ranked 23rd in NCAA Division III and Marymount was a program that received votes just outside the top 25.
Perhaps the toughest test of them all lies ahead on Jan. 28 when the Spartans travel to Mary Washington. That meet will also provide a small preview of the competition to be seen Feb. 17-19 at the conference meet.
The Eagles-Spartans showdown will produce the match-up of Tate vs. the Eagles’ Dallas Tarkenton in a number of events.
Tarkenton holds the top time in every event where Tate is sitting second. Tarkenton is a three-time defending conference champion in the 200 IM, two-time defending conference champ in the 100 fly and is the current CAC title holder in the 200 fly as well.
Tate admits the showdown looms large, but says he’s using the meeting as a measuring stick.
“That’s the best thing. I’d rather have somebody who’s a second or two faster than someone who’s the same time as me,” Tate said of facing talent of Tarkenton’s caliber. “Because you have that goal of knowing they’re ahead and that it’s going to be a hard battle. And even if you lose, you have that goal to look up to and work toward.”
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org