UMBC will be making its first appearance at the America East swimming championships this weekend at the University of Maine, but Brad Green and Astrid Sperling will be far from timid new kids on the block.
Instead, Green and Sperling will stroll proudly with their teammates into the Wallace Pool area, enjoying their status as a legitimate threat to win the league championship.
"I like being hunted," said Green, who will lead the Retrievers men's bid to win a seventh straight conference title after taking six consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference championships.
"If we go out and do the times we're supposed to, we'll win," said Green, who specializes in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke and is a part of three school record-breaking relay teams.
The UMBC men's only loss this season was by one point (122-121) to Navy, a setback they have used to drive them to a program-record 12 wins.
Sperling and the Retrievers women also swam to a program-best 12 victories (12-1) this season. East Carolina handed the UMBC women their only loss, 134-109.
"It has been a great feeling to go into meets as the favorite," said Sperling, who holds school records in the 100 back and 200 back. "Our team is definitely better because of the new freshmen, and now we can have a little mental edge going into a meet because of our record."
Sperling, like Green a senior, also has school records as part of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams.
Although the UMBC women's team is a strong contender in the America East meet that opened yesterday and continues until tomorrow, they have to share the spotlight with New Hampshire and Northeastern as threats to take home the first-place trophy.
"New Hampshire is strong in distances and Northeastern is strong in sprints," said UMBC men's and women's coach Chad Cradock. "We have to hope we can find a way to grab enough points to win while those two schools negate each other."
The UMBC women have captured the Northeast Conference title four of the past five years.
Cradock said he has seven swimmers and divers capable of qualifying for the NCAA Division I championships, including Green, Sperling, Jon Gdowik (3-meter diving), Gene Szabo (200 butterfly), Lindsay Prather (200 breaststroke), Holly Wittsack (200 butterfly), and Agnieszka Stanislawska (200 freestyle).
Three for Trotter
Tee Trotter's dominance of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Week award has now reached the extraordinary stages, as the Maryland-Eastern Shore senior guard has racked up three straight.
Trotter's latest three-game binge had him averaging 23.1 points and carrying the Hawks to two victories.
State House calls Gulls
Salisbury's 2003 NCAA Division III field hockey national championship team will be honored at the State House in Annapolis Monday at 8 a.m.
Coppin State senior center Leisel Harry averaged 28.5 points and 15.5 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent from the field in two games last week, earning MEAC women's Player of the Week honors.
Leonard Trevino, the only head basketball coach in the 14-year history of Goucher's men's program, picked up the 200th victory of his career last Saturday with a 73-70 victory over Salisbury.
Harford Community College sophomore guard Jason Peterson is averaging 22 points, 12.3 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in addition to shooting 62 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range.
The Goucher doubles team of freshmen Andrew Danos and David Sands is ranked No. 12 in the first Atlantic South Region's rankings of the year.
Goucher showed an 8 1/2 -game improvement in women's soccer last fall, going from 0-16-2 in 2002 to 8-7-4 in 2003. Only one other Division III women's school, Nebraska Wesleyan, had a more dramatic turnaround (nine games).
Loyola College women's soccer coach Joe Mallia has just returned from a second straight stint as goalkeepers coach for the Under-21 U.S. women's national team.