SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Reigning Northeast Conference Diver of the Year sophomore Kelci Abernethy (Chandler, Ariz.) and classmate Jillian Rice (Trumbull, Conn.) lead the Bryant University women's swimming and diving team into the 2017 NEC Swim & Dive Championships this week on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
The four-day event gets underway Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. and continues through Saturday night. All four days of the championship meet will be streamed live and free of charge on NECFrontRow.com.
Headlined by a stellar group of divers and one of the deepest teams in recent memory, the Black and Gold are looking to improve upon a third-place finish (543 points) from last season.
Diving coach Chuck LoCurto, the reigning NEC Diving Coach of the Year, has built a formidable group heading into this week. Bryant returns four divers that finished in the top six of the 1 meter dive and both that finished 1-2 in the 3 meter dive. Abernethy is the headliner as she won both heights at last year's championships and set a meet record in the 1 meter dive.
Heading into the week, Bryant is seeded 2-5 in the 1 meter and 2-4 and 6 in the 3 meter. Ann Burdick (Glenmont, N.Y.) is second, Abernethy third, Carissa Stemen (Naples, Fla.) fourth and Stephanie Jennings (Elmont, N.Y.) fifth in the 1 meter. Abernethy is seeded second, Burdick is third, Jennings is fourth and Stemen is sixth in the 3 meter.
In the pool, Rice will look to lead a deep and talented Bulldog team. Bryant's top sprinter, Rice enters the week seeded 7th in the 100 free, 10th in the 200 free and 12th in the 50 free. Last year, Rice posted finishes of 10th (200 free), 12th (100 free) and 17th (500 free) at the championships.
Free Events (50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650)
In addition to Rice in the 50 free, Kayleigh Canavan (Cumberland, R.I.) is seeded 17th entering the week.
Bryant has four listed among the top 16 seeds in the 200 free entering the week. Alaina Scifo (Ipswich, Great Britain) is 8th, Rice is 10th, Valeria Watson (Mexico City, Mexico) is 11th and Erin Daly (Reading, Mass.) is seeded 13th.
Watson and Daly also have a chance to score points for the Bulldogs in the 500 free. Watson is seeded 12th entering the week, while Daly, a former bronze-medalist in the event, is seeded 17th. Nicole Salzano (Elmwood Park, N.J.) (14) and Alyssa DiFiore (Wethersfield, Conn.) (20) join Watson and Daly.
Bryant's distance swimmers also have a chance to score key points. Mackenzie Kirk (San Jose, Calif.), Daly and DiFiore could all final in the 1000 or 1650 free. Daly is Bryant's top distance swimmer, having won a pair of medals, including a bronze medal last year, during her career.
Back Events (100, 200)
Two of Bryant's strongest events could be the 100 and 200 back. Scifo paces the Bulldogs as a freshman, entering the week seeded 8th in the 100 back and 7th in the 200 back.
Salzano is the most experienced in the event, having finished fourth in the 100 back and fifth in the 200 back at last year's championships.
Caitlin Dye (Natick, Mass.) is also seeded 16th in the 100 back entering the week.
IM (200, 400)
Bryant has two swimmers in the top 20 seeds of the 200 IM and 400 IM entering the week. Scifo is seeded 19th in the 200, while Kirk is seeded 15th in the 400.
Breast (100, 200)
Freshman Eliza Brant (Hauppauge, N.Y.) has had a stellar season in the breast events and she'll be Bryant's top option this week as well. She enters the championships seeded 11th in the 100 breast and 13th in the 200 breast.
Danielle Whitaker (Narragansett, R.I.) is seeded 18th in the event and Canavan is seeded 19th in the event.
Fly (100, 200)
Senior Samantha Torrez (Whittier, Calif.) will look to put the cherry on top of a great career this week. She enters the week seeded fourth in the 200 fly and 10th in the 100 fly. Torrez finished 11th and 12th in the events last year.
Bryant will also look to freshman Domenica Alcala (Cancun, Mexico) and veteran Taylor Poliseno (Stevenson Ranch, Calif.). Alcala is seeded 15th in the 100 fly and 5th in the 200 fly, while Poliseno is 14th in the 100 fly.