BW Swimmer Nick Gattozzi and Diver Todd Richert Find Success Differently Together
BEREA, OHIO – Baldwin Wallace University senior breaststroker Nick Gattozzi and sophomore two-time NCAA Division III All-American diver Todd Richert each have found success in different ways but they do it together with a goal of leading the Yellow Jackets to the 2009 Ohio Athletic Conference Championship in March.
Gattozzi, a resident of Strongsville, began his collegiate career on the big stage at Division I Ohio University before coming back to the area and enrolling at BW. Richert, a resident of North Royalton, wanted to stay close to home to continue to work with BW diving coach Tim Croy. Despite the difference, both are happy to be in Berea.
“I swam at OU for one quarter and then transferred to BW for Winter/Spring Senester in 2006,” said Gattozzi. “I am very happy with my decision. With the smaller class sizes and campus in general, I am able to receive a better education and build a strong group of friends both inside and outside of swimming.”
Gattozzi is one of the top breastrokers for the 4-3 overall and 2-1 Ohio Athletic Conference Yellow Jackets who host both Hiram College on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. in the Natatorium of the Lou Higgins Recreation Center in Berea and then host OAC and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University on Seniors’ Day at 1:00 p.m.
Gattozzi’s top breatstroke times this season are 1:04.13 in the 100-yard breaststroke to rank second on the team and he has a team-best 2:20.15 in the 200. He also owns the BW school-record in the 200 in a time of 2:12.54.
Last weekend, Gattozzi won individual titles in the 100-yard individual medley in 1:01.27 in a meet versus Case Western Reserve University on Friday and then won the 200 breaststroke in 2:21.69.
“I think we have a great chance to win the OAC title,” said Gattozzi, a communications studies major with a minor in English who would like to write for a major magazine in a major metropolitan area like Chicago or New York City. “We have multiple swimmers with talent in all events.
Last year at the OAC Championship Meet, Gattozzi placed second with his school-record time. This season, he is motivated to help his team win a title, and at the same time, he wants to win an individual crown.
“What is great about swimming is that anything can happen,” continued Gattozzi, who also coaches an age group swim team in Strongsville in addition to going to school and competing for the Jackets. “No one really knows host fast you are capable of swimming until you are actually tapered (prepared to swim) in that big meet situation. It is a great atmosphere which I am really excited about.”
“Nick works hard at every practice and in every meet,” said BW Head Coach Sara Gildea “He is hoping to re-break his own school record and win an OAC title in the 200, and re-claim an All-OAC spot (top three swimmers) in the 100. He also holds his high school record in the 100.”
Richert is just starting the big part of his season. As a diver, last Saturday’s ONU meet and the upcoming OAC Championships, Feb. 12-14 at the University of Akron with BW as the host school are the big meets.
Against ONU last Saturday in Ada, Richert renewed his high school rivalry with former teammate George Chesney. He and Chesney are the dominant divers in the OAC with one exception.
At BW, Richert owns school records in all five events, won the OAC title in the 3-meter event last season and advanced to the 2008 NCAA Championship Meet in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Chesney won the OAC title in the 1-meter event but did not go to the national meet. In fact, he beat Richert by less than one point for that title.
“Todd had Division I diving talent coming out of high school and his competition with George (Chesney) is about as good as it gets at the Division III level,” said Gildea. “Todd is looking to repeat going to the national meet this season and determined to place higher in each event, especially the 1-meter.”
But, despite the competition, Richert puts it all into perspective.
“My friendship with George always comes first,” said Richert who placed 12th at the 2008 Division III National Meet in the 3-meter event and 12th in the 1-meter. “We both hope for the best for each other, but don’t get me wrong, I still want to win!”
The duel continued last Saturday in Ada where Richert again won the 3-meter board with a school-record 303.90 points compared to 292.05 for Chesney. It was the fifth of the five school titles that he owns. Chesney won the 1-meter board with 304.20 points compared to 300.25 for Richert.
Look for the duel to continue at Akron.
In addition to being a record-setting diver at BW, Richert, an exercise science major with a high grade point average, also teaches gymnastics 15 hours per week at a local club.
“Nick and Todd are both very active outside of our swim program,” said Gildea. “That’s just another reason both are successful. They work hard in the classroom and at practice and they give of themselves in the community. Both are outstanding competitors and leaders.”