Head coach Rick Walker earned MAC Swimming Coach of the Year honors. Walker has earned 12 Coach of the Year honors from various conferences in 20 years as a head coach.
March 3, 2012
By John Lock
OXFORD, Ohio - The Southern Illinois men's swimming and diving team finished the 2012 MAC Championships in third place. The Salukis won four events, and head coach Rick Walker was named 2012 Mid-American Conference Swimming Coach of the Year.
"This meet had some of the biggest time drops of any meet in the country," Walker said. "And our athletes were out there leading the way. We were a couple breaks away from knocking on the door for a conference championship."
Head coach Rick Walker earned his 12th Coach of the Year honor and his first MAC Swimming Coach of the Year award. Walker is a three-time Eastern Independent Championships Coach of the Year (1993-95), two-time National Independent Championships Coach of the Year (1996, 97), four-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year (1995, 96, 98, 2002) and two-time MVC Invitational Coach of the Year (2004, 05).
"The award is a really testament to this team and the other coaches, not me," Walker said. "These athletes set the tone of this meet every day; they were the show. And the other coaches helped light that fire every day."
Matt Parsons won the 200-yard butterfly on Saturday. Justin Wolfe finished right behind him in second, giving SIU its only 1-2 finish in the Championship. Parsons time was the fifth-fastest in school history in the event.
The 200 freestyle relay team started the Championship off on the right foot for the Salukis. The foursome of Justin Wolfe, Shaun Wolfe, Jared Bradd and Juan Arbelaez set a school and MAC Championship record on their way to winning the event.
Juan Arbelaez kept things going by becoming the first swimmer in school history to break 20 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. Arbelaez broke an 11-year-old school record in the event during the prelims and won the event in Thursday night's final.
Justin Wolfe broke MAC Championship and school records in the 100-yard butterfly. Wolfe won his second-straight conference title in the event and broke a 21-year-old school record and 13-year-old Championship record in the event on Friday.
Eastern Michigan won the event by 19 points over second-place Buffalo. Eastern Michigan took conference honors for Swimmer of the Year, Diver of the Year and Diving Coach of the Year.
1. Eastern Michigan -- 693.5
2. Buffalo -- 674.5
3. Southern Illinois - 596
4. Missouri State - 558
5. Miami (OH) - 472
6. Ball State - 229
7. Evansville - 98