Consistency is child’s play when it comes to the performances that head coach Brad Bowser’s teams put on display over the last four and a half years.
Even that might not be enough to paint the picture that is the Rowan men’s swimming and diving team.
The WPI Gompei Invitational serves as the first real test for the Profs this weekend, as members of the team will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships at the end of the season.
“In the first half of the season we look at it as just preparing for ourselves,” Bowser said. “Each team, each dual-meet we swim we just prepare. I look at this meet as just preparation for the end of the season. We step it up a little bit in terms of the intensity and what we would like to clean up… Even for when we get to Mets for some of these guys, it’ll just be preparation for NCAA’s.”
The Brown and Gold were overpowering compared to the other 12 teams at the WPI meet last year, claiming first in five events. Junior Matt Grubb, who won the 50 breaststroke, senior Nate Wojtowicz and sophomore Kevin Gillooly, who were both part of the winning 400 freestyle relay, are the only three members on this year’s team that took first in events.
Even though they were the top dogs throughout the 2017 season, the three are finding their strides this year alongside plenty of others on the team as true leaders.
“Kevin Gillooly, I’m excited to see what he can do,” Bowser said. “He’s had a great first half of the season. Matt Grubb is another one. Jake Kayati as well. You know, a lot of these guys that sort of were in the shadows of people are now able to develop on their own and see whether they can step up or lead this team the way it should be led.”
Last year, in the 100 free, Gillooly and Wojtowicz went two-three in best times of the season. Now, Gillooly had shown his prowess as first on the team with a 47.09 marking. Kayati follows with a 48.44. Grubb has continued his consistency in the 200 breaststroke. Wojtowicz is amongst the top on the team in five events including the 100 fly and 500 free, where he wasn’t near in 2017.
The WPI Gompei Invitational is another event on the calendar that seniors will be checking off, as their college careers are slowly coming to a conclusion. That being said, Bowser wants them to just take a step back and soak in the moments that they will be experiencing for the last time.
“Have fun. Just enjoy the last year,” Bowser said. “I try to tell these guys that this is the last time they will really doing anything that’s an organized team activity together. Going away and doing our training trip, or this meet. Being together and spending the night and going out. Eating together as a team to getting up and doing the wakeup swims. It takes our whole entire life to get to where they’re at right now. And so, they don’t really know what life’s going to be like post-swimming. So, I try to tell them to leave the sport on a good note and leave the taste in your mouth on a positive. That’s my hope for them this weekend, for them to take this moment and adventure and can leave and say ‘I had a good WPI at the end of my career.’ We’ll see what happens, but for the most part they are looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to it and we’ll see if they can step up to what they did last year.”
There’s no shortage of experience and people that know a thing or two about soaking in the last moments of your collegiate career around the 2018 Profs.
Cayleigh McCuster, who graduated last year after winning the 100 and 200 breaststrokes at the Mets, is in her first year as an assistant coach. Eric Feuerstein is also in his first year as a volunteer assistant coach who carries a successful college resume along with him that shows him as a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Conference first team in nine events last season. John Morris, a 2017 graduate, is in his first season as diving coach after being an assistant to that position last year. Morris was the NJAC Diver of the Year all four years of his career.
For some of the seniors on the team now, they are able to look at the members that have helped build the program to what it is and see that the Division III school in Glassboro that has been taking first in this and that over Bowser’s time under the helm is more than just that. It’s created long-lasting families within the sport.
“It’s something special and it’s sort of continuing the family,” Bowser said. “It’s sort of what we’ve tried to instill on these last five years since I’ve gotten here.”
As for the upcoming weekend, the goal will always remain the same:
Blow the competition out of the water, get nationally ranked and qualify for the beast that is the NCAA’s.
“My goal for these guys right now is just getting themselves into position,” Bowser said. “If they’re the top-five to top-10 in the country in their individual events after this weekend, then we are setting ourselves up.”
The WPI Gompei Invitational will start with 9:00 a.m. prelims and have finals at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s finals will start at 5:00 p.m.
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