Niagara Gazette

Sports

February 17, 2012

Local Griffs ready to shine

A pair of locals, one a senior and the other a freshman, have led the Canisius College men’s and women’s swimming programs to new heights this season. Both test the waters at the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Championships inside the Flickinger Center in Buffalo. Competition began Thursday and runs through Saturday.

Senior standout Stephen Pochatko, a Starpoint graduate, holds school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle,100- and 200-yard backstroke as well as the 200- and 400-yard medley relay and the 400- and 800-yard freestyle relay. Four of those marks (100 back, 200 and 400 medley relay and 400 free relay) are also Koessler Athletic Center records.

Heading into MAACs, Pochatko was ranked among the top 10 swimmers in five individual events. On Thursday, he finished seventh in the 50 free and led both the 200 free and 400 medley relays to top five finishes. He will finish off the event with the 100 back, 200 back, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.

“Steve has been a MAAC finalist each year he has been at Canisius and is an important part of our relay and team success each year,” Canisius coach Scott Vanderzell said. “He has been a captain for the last two years and has made a mark on the growth of this team through his hard work and passion for the team.”

Freshman phenom Marissa Oakey, a Niagara-Wheatfield graduate, has already set new school records in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free and 400 individual medley. She has five new KAC marks (200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free and 400 free relay) as well. In addition, Oakey helped Canisius snap an 18-year losing streak to rival Niagara and secure its first dual-meet win ever over Siena.

Heading into MAACs, Oakey was ranked among the top 10 swimmers in five individual events. On Thursday, she took fourth in the 500 free and led both the 200 free and 400 medley relays to top five finishes. She will take part in the other distance races during the event.

“Marissa has made an immediate impact on the women’s team success, not only breaking records but by raising the level at which they train,” Vanderzell said. “She has brought added strength to our lineup and compliments the rest of the team very well as the women’s team gets stronger and stronger each meet.”

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