By Brian Bennett
Records are made to be broken and the Knights’ student-athletes have taken that cliché seriously this past season. Numerous career, event and single season Geneseo-best marks have been set this year in a number of sports, from players closing out their career in a Knights’ uniform to first-years in their initial seasons.
This past fall, senior field hockey goalie Dayna Mercer ended her career on top of the program lists for career saves (474) and wins (42). In the saves category she easily eclipsed the previous mark of 355, held by Amanda Carver (2002-05).
During the same season senior women’s tennis player Marylen Santos shattered two career marks. The final totals for Santos are not yet set, as the team has more matches and the NCAA Tournament in the spring. But right now, Santos will potentially be adding to program records in total career wins (131) and doubles wins (70). She can climb to the top of all three career-win lists with two more singles victories— her current total of 61 is tied for second, two short of the top mark.
In the winter, the men’s basketball team saw both team and individual marks eclipsed. The squad set a program record for best free throw percentage in a season (80.4%, besting the 74.6% mark of the 2004-05 team) and also set a new mark for best percentage in a game (96.2%, off a 25-for-26 performance against Plattsburgh on Feb. 20). The new team standards were built on a number of strong individual performances, in particular junior John Decker and sophomore Kevin Crockett. Both set new season-best marks for free throw percentage, Crockett at 93.5% (58-for-62) and Decker at 91.4% (117-for-128). In addition to being the new season record holder, Crockett is at the top of the Knights' listing for career free-throw proficiency at 93.7%.
Members of the women’s basketball team displayed a similar talent from the charity stripe. Senior Dana Cohan finished her final year at the top of the career percentage list at 83.2%. She came into the season just ahead of the 82.6% set by Katy Irving (2004-07), as well as current teammate senior Allison McKenna (82.2%). In addition, Cohan remains at the top of the season-best free-throw percentage list, courtesy of her 86.9% performance in 2013-14.
Cohan also came into the season at the top of the career three-point shooting percentage list. Her strong performance beyond the arc this season (41.5%, fifth-best season mark in program history) kept her ahead of the second-best mark of 38.3% (Bryna Burda, 1994-98) and increased her record to 39.7%.
While McKenna didn’t surpass Cohan at the free-throw line, she’ll walk away holding every program mark for blocked shots. She broke two of her own records this season: for blocks in a game against Plattsburgh (eight) and blocks in a season (66). Her 2015-16 total gives her the three highest season totals in Geneseo history and naturally this gives her the career blocks mark with 238, more than double the second-place mark of 115 by All-American Melissa Graham (2009-13).
In the water, the men’s and women’s swimmers claimed a number of pool records at this season’s Geneseo Invitational and conference records at the recent SUNYAC Championships, as well as notching new program records. The conference meet saw sophomore Sam Randall set a new school mark in 3-meter diving, with a score of 577.3, while first-year Nancy Nasky surpassed the Geneseo record in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:07.27, topping the old standard set by Meaghan Green in 2010. Randall and Nasky will have opportunities to better their performances as each qualified for the NCAA Championships to be held March 16-19.
Both the men’s and women’s teams continue to build on their respective records in terms of most SUNYAC titles. The men claimed their 23rd championship, far beyond the second-place best of seven by Cortland. The women are even more impressive: they have 24 SUNYAC titles, while the other conference schools have won only nine between them.
The equestrian team set a program mark with 11 riders qualifying for the April Regional Championships, topping the eight riders who qualified in 2005-06. Each will have the opportunity to advance to Zone Championships and after that, potentially the national show.
The most prolific individual record breakers during the winter season were members of the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams, who snapped 11 records this past season. (More may fall at the upcoming NCAA championships on March 11-12.) Three were claimed at the recent conference championships: senior Aidan Fullerton in the Heptathlon (4,998 points), junior Alexa Wandy in the triple jump (11.77 meters) and sophomore Camille Wutz in the long jump (5.71 meters).
Wutz also claimed the 60-meter record during the season at 7.97, only the second Geneseo female runner to break the eight-second mark. Other women’s marks were broken by senior Kylie Ryan (200 meter, :26.15), sophomore Lauren Bamford (600 meter, 1:40.97) and first-year Laura Piazza (pole vault, 3.30 meters/10’ 10”).
In the 600-meter run, junior Mackenzie Ross and sophomore Madelyn Schwartz joined Bamford in besting the previous record, one of tracks longer-held marks, set in 1992 by Jacqueline Brocki.
On the men’s side this winter, seniors Michael Segelin and Ryan Moynihan added their names to the record book. Segelin’s record-breaking run was :36.06 in the 300-meter, besting a nine-year-old mark. Moynihan topped the former school best in the 1000 meter by .13 seconds, with a 2:30.87 effort. The Knights also saw a relay record snapped, as the 4x400 relay team of junior Connor Christian, first-year James Laguerre, sophomore Dylan Switzer and senior Ben Wach ran a 3:19.87, snapping the old mark by over two ticks of the stopwatch.
There’s a strong chance that records will fall in outdoor track and field this spring, as a good number of the Knights’ returning competitors had 2015 performances that brought them within distance of school bests.
This trip into in the various Geneseo record books inspired further investigation as to some of the longest-held marks. Track and field had the most turnover this season, but also has a number of records that have held up over a number of decades. Both the indoor (4.73m/15’ 6”) and outdoor (4.56m/14’ 11.5”)men’s pole vault records date back to the early 1980s, set by Bill Todd. The men’s outdoor 110m hurdle mark, :14.44 by Steve Kovach, dates back to 1973 and has not been seriously challenged—the second-best effort, made in 2005, is almost a half-second back. The men’s outdoor hammer (54.76m/179’, 7.75” by Doug Ryan, 1994) and javelin (55.32m/181’ 5.75” by Steve Peglow, 1988) had stood the test of time as well.
The women’s track and field program also has a pair of standing indoor/outdoor records that date to the 1980s. Geneseo Sports Hall of Famer Lori Connor set pentathlon records in each season that have yet to be surpassed: 3,182 points indoor and 4,342 outdoor. Two other Hall members still hold marks as well: Christine Sisting’s outdoor 3,000 meter record (10:08.14) has stood since 1996 and Liz Shope’s outdoor hammer throw (53.34m/175’) has stood since 1997.
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have seen the majority of their records set in the new century and beyond. The oldest women’s records only date back to 2009: Alex Dockstader’s 2:05.41 in the 200 individual medley and Lindsay Dressel’s 4:32.90 in the 400 individual medley. Neither has been closely challenged since their performance. The men have one record that dates back to the 1990s: the 800 free relay time of 6:50.34 by Hall of Famers Matt VanDerMeid, Todd Geary, Josh Muldner and Mike Houlihan, a quartet so dominant that all four were inducted into the Hall as a single class.
The oldest standing record in Geneseo athletics overall is in the team sports, but it comes with an asterisk. George Yaw scored five goals in a men’s soccer game against Oswego in 1955, but shares the record with Jim Clar, who duplicated the feat in 1988. Goaltending records for men’s soccer date back to the 1960s, with Richard Carlson (1964-67) holding career and season saves.
Clar, who played between1985-89, has the distinction of holding records in two sports. Along with sharing the mark for goals in a game, his numbers still hold up for goals in a season (17, 1988) and consecutive games scoring a goal (five, 1987). Among his basketball records are a clean sweep in the steals category: career (405), season (137, 1988-89) and game (12, 1988).
Scott Fitch (1989-94) still holds 15 basketball records, but he didn’t break them all and some date to the 1970s. Hall of Fame member Harry Ward has the mark for field goals made in a season (226 in 1973-74), while the field goal percentage leader for both career and season is Paul Rich (1977-81). Rich has three of the top four seasons in that category, his best being an astounding 69.8% season in 1980-81 and for his career he made baskets at a 64.6% rate.
Perhaps the men’s basketball records most likely to have the longest life involve the rebounding marks of Ed Robota (1972-75). Geneseo’s first basketball All-American and a Geneseo Hall of Fame member, Robota holds all the primary rebounding records. His 1,098 career rebounds made him the only Geneseo player in history with 1,000+, until All-American Gordon Lyons (2011-15) closed out his career last season with 1,015. Robota has the two best totals for rebounds in a season (his 1974-75 season of 412 being the record) and still has the top three years for rebounding average in the record book (17.9 per game in 1972-73 being the standard). In addition, he holds the four top rebounding performances in a game, with his best being 31 boards against Stony Brook in 1973.
Men’s lacrosse likewise has some records that have endured since the ’70s and ’80s. The name of All-American Don Litzelman (1979-82) is still at the top of a number of lists, including career goals (149), career points (259) and goals in a game (nine, 1979 vs. Potsdam). In addition, Litzelman has the two-best season-point totals in program history, the record being 82 in 1979.
Litzelman’s career numbers have a healthy margin (42 better than second place in career points and 36 more in goals), which mirror the career goal-scoring record of fellow Geneseo Hall of Fame member Bill Loveland (1984-89). Loveland notched 125 goals, 35 better than second place. He averaged 31.25 goals a season—most impressive when you remember that there have only been five seasons in which a Knight has netted 30+ goals and two of those seasons belong to Loveland.
The 1980s were a strong decade for women’s records as well, with comparisons to some of our recent top players giving some context. Shannon McGinnis (2011-15) was a basketball All-American who graduated as the top career (1,011) and season (341 in 2014-15) rebounder. Yet Jackie Schoder (1982-84) holds the best career per-game rebounding average (10.3), while the mark for most rebounds in a game (20) is shared by Jan Holcomb (1980 vs. Alfred) and Hall of Famer Lynn Hamilton (1989 vs. Oswego).
The oldest marks in the women’s soccer record book are from 1982, when Lynn Ratzel had goals in a record eight-straight games and also had a four-goal game vs. Canisius. The latter has been matched six times, the most recent in 2008 by Ashley Modica (vs. Morrisville), while the consecutive-games-scoring mark was challenged by Leah Greene in 2014, when she notched six in a row. The early 1980s were also the goaltending era of Sue Ianello (1982-85) who still holds the most career saves (554).
Women’s volleyball and softball records are primarily from the 1990s and 2000s, although Tanya Beiswenger’s program-best .524 batting average dates from the 1990 season.
Changes in various sports, be it rules, equipment or philosophies, sometimes makes it difficult to compare different eras but nevertheless, setting a record, whether it lasts for a single season or for decades, is an momentous and proud occasion for any athlete. In the Geneseo record books, the various marks seem to be held by some of the Knights’ all-time bests, as evidenced by how many have wound up as members of Geneseo’s Sports Hall of Fame. So keep that connection in mind as records fall in the coming seasons.
Brian Bennett is director of design and publications and is part of the Athletic Communications and Media Relations staff.