Over the past few weeks, many of Sacred Heart’s athletic programs competed in their respective conference championships. Members of the fencing, track and field and swimming and diving teams all took home medals from their competitions.
The men’s fencing team competed in the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC) championship meet at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. on Feb. 26. Overall, they won gold as the three-weapon team and the saber squad secured first place to become NEIFC champions.
“Going into the weekend, I felt really relaxed because I was eager to have a fun time and see how I could do,’’ said sophomore Vijay Ganta. “It felt amazing to get first in the saber competition because it showed that all of our hard work is paying off.”
Senior captain Cameron Silver was the motivator for the team heading into the NEIFC championship and was proud of the way everyone competed.
“As the captain, I just wanted everyone to work their hardest and feel like they were improving,” said Silver. “We went in with a mindset of ‘we have something to prove and want to show everyone that we are the best.’ What was the most important win to me was the whole team winning first because you want everyone to win.”
Another team that took home medals at their conference championship was the swimming and diving team. They headed to Geneva, Ohio to take part in the NEC conference meet from Feb. 22-26. They had several top ten finishes and placed fifth overall in the conference with a combined score of 378.5 points.
Senior Megan McLaughlin had a medal-winning performance and placed third in the 3-meter dive finals with a score of 216.20.
“I felt very prepared because two weeks up to the meet we did all the dives that we would be doing at NEC’s,” said McLaughlin. “We were very excited because of the preparation we did leading up to the meet and were ready to show off.”
McLaughlin’s coach, Adam Vance, was also named NEC diving coach of the year. This was a big accomplishment for the program.
“I did not have one doubt in my mind that he would win the award,” said McLaughlin. “At the end of the meet, our head coach John Spadafina told us to not get changed because Adam is probably going to win this award.”
The third sport that found success at their conference meet was the men’s and women’s track and field team. They competed at the indoor NEC championship meet on Feb. 20-21 in Staten Island, NY.
One Pioneer who had a historic performance was junior Kaylee Stenderowicz. Not only did she take home first in the triple jump, but she also broke a school record with a 12.03m leap.
“It really was one of the best feelings ever, it feels like all the hard work has finally paid off,” said Stenderowicz. “Getting first would have been exciting regardless, but it was even more special to get first with a PR and a school record.”
In addition to Stenderowicz getting on the podium, the men’s 4×400 team consisting of Lance Hayes, Rafael Mahario, Jonathan Mahon and Joseph Morrone earned third place. Graduate student Abbie Mokwuah also earned two medals, winning a silver in shot put and then setting a personal best in the weight throw at 14.95m on her way to the gold. She was named NEC Field Athlete of the Meet for her accomplishments.
As the three teams reminisce about their seasons following their conference championships, the spring sports season at Sacred Heart is well underway, with hopes of bringing back as many conference championships as possible back to Fairfield.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.