The crowd inside the Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center anxiously awaited the Mid-American Conference award presentation following the conclusion of the MAC Championships.
The anticipation was high for one of those awards in particular: MAC Freshman Diver of The Year. Ball State’s Hunter Ongay, one of three freshmen divers who competed, was the one to take home the hardware. Ongay said it was amazing to receive it.
“It’s humbling in a big way,” Ongay said. “I wouldn’t be here without my coach Nick or my teammates because they were cheering me on the entire time.”
In his diving events, Ongay finished sixth in the one-meter dive (262.45 points) Tuesday and seventh in the three-meter dive (255.85 points) Thursday. Diving coach Nick Gayes said he was excited for Ongay to receive this award.
“It’s a good start to his career,” Gayes said. “It’s far where we want to be in the long run, but it’s a nice recognition on the way.”
Along with Ongay’s award, two Cardinal swimmers broke school records at the MAC Championships.
After watching senior Alec Tuthill finish sixth in the consolation finals of the 100 butterfly, junior Ben Andrew stood up on the block to race the same event. After finishing in seventh place, Andrew looked up at the clock. It read 48.91 seconds — a broken record. Going into the finals, Andrew said the record wasn’t on his mind.
“I was just thinking about, ‘Alright, go faster than I did this morning,’” Andrew said. “I got out of the water, and someone told me, ‘Hey, you got the record.’ I didn’t know right away that I broke it. It was a cherry on top of a personal-best swim. It was a little bit of a bonus, and it made it even better.”
Another junior, Logan Ackley, also broke a record. Thursday, Ackley swam in the 200 backstroke, an event where he broke the school record last year. The time to beat was 1:48.81. Ackley lowered it by seven one-hundredths of a second and finished fourth in the championship finals.
“It was good being able to get all of those points,” Ackley said. “It’s always tough competition with Evansville in that event.”
Overall, the Cardinals had 30 individuals in the consolation or championship. Head coach J. Agnew said his swimmers raced their guts out.
“They’re just a scrappy, hardworking and determined group of young men,” Agnew said. “They fought through the finish.”
Even though his team finished last in the five-team MAC Championship meet, Agnew said his swimmers should still walk with their heads held high.
“This is just the beginning, and I think these guys know it,” Agnew said. “We’re walking out of here more confident and more determined. We’re just looking forward to a bright future with these guys.”