Feb. 19, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Another impressive performance by the Navy swimming and diving teams closed out the final day of the 2012 Patriot League Championship that came to an end Saturday at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The two Navy programs set a league record by combining to win 33 of the 40 event titles on their way to comfortably winning both team crowns by several hundred points.
The Navy women's team set a meet record by scoring 933.5 points (previous record was 877 set by Navy two years ago) over the three-day meet to defeat second-place and defending champion Colgate by 241 points. The victory was Navy's second title won in the last three years, third in the last five years and league-record 11th championship overall.
"It is hard to put into words," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "There is a lot of emotion right now. The team has worked hard for this for a full year, devoted a lot of time and effort for this and to have it come out with the performance we did from everybody was exciting. Just the overall dedication to the team, the selfless giving to one another; I go back to Alex Lundgren wanting to swim this week for her teammates with pretty much a torn hamstring, Kellie Darmody having to take the last two weeks off due to being sick but still swimming with the heart of a champion, and everyone else on the team from top to bottom. That's what this team was about.
"It also was another great performance by our men's team, and all of us with the women's team congratulate Bill, his assistant, Chris Maiello, and all of the guys. Sometimes being the favorite can be difficult because everyone is gunning for you. But they readily accept that challenge every year and keep building upon their success instead of resting on their laurels."
The Navy men's squad set a record by winning all 18 swimming events in accruing 1,029.5 points at the championship. That point tally, which ranks fourth in league history (Navy has scored 1,031.5, 1,047 and 1,056 points at the 2009, `10 and `11 meets, respectively), gave Navy a 391-point margin of victory over second-place Bucknell. Navy has now won the Patriot League title in each of the nine seasons it has competed at the meet.
"It sounds cliche, but we always aim high," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "We try to have the guys challenge ourselves. But you still have to go out and actually do it. It is awfully exciting to see the guys come through here after their races."
"I would be remiss if I did not congratulate John, assistant coach Rob Lias and the entire women's team. You could see the hard work they were putting into this season, and it really paid off for them this week. They won some amazing races that had the place jumping, and our guys fed off of what they were doing the last few days."
The previous record for combined victories by one program at a Patriot League Championship was 30, which was set by Navy two seasons ago.
Navy also garnered the majority of the major individual awards presented at the conclusion of the championship. Justin Vagts and Laura Gorinski were named as the league's swimmers of the year, Ange Sawick was tabbed as the women's rookie of the year and Courtney Vandament garnered the women's diver-of-the-year accolade. Additionally, John Morrison was tabbed as the league's women's swimming coach of the year and Bill Roberts earned the men's swimming coach-of-the-year laurel.
"Justin is a great example of what we try to graduate here at Navy," said Roberts. "He is a good student, good kid, and in the pool has a model work ethic. I am very happy for him."
"Everybody this entire season has worked incredibly hard to achieve something like this," said Vagts. "Everybody knows who we have to step up for. Having the entire team behind everyone in every single race really helped us."
"Last year (a second-place finish) was hard to swallow for us," said Gorinski. "We started making changes the very next week after last year's meet. It drove us for the entire season. And to come out with a meet like this where everyone had amazing swims, we're beyond happy."
"Laura is such a competitor," said Morrison. "She has such a drive to excel. You could see her take off when she hit the water this week. It was fun to watch."
"This was a great way for Courtney to cap her career," said Navy diving coach Joe Suriano. "She has steadily improved from her freshman year and it was very nice to see her have such success in this, her last Patriot League meet."
Due to the time it takes to swim the event, the majority of the 1650 freestyle races are held by seed time starting early in the afternoon on the last day of the championship. This means that only those eight swimmers with the fastest entry time of the season swim during the session of finals. Navy's Katie Davidson swam during the afternoon session, but everyone swimming in the night session had to be aware of the time she recorded before they took to the pool. Davidson posted a time of 16:55.01, the No. 6 time in school history, and a clocking that turned out to be faster than the time recorded by five of the eight swimmers who were swimming at night. Topping all competitors in the event was Sawick, who posted a time of 16:30.41 to win the event by nine seconds and sneak inside the NCAA `B' cut standard of 16:30.59.
In addition to the times recorded by Sawick and Davidson, Haley Nowak posted a clocking of 17:08.38 to place sixth and Katherine Jones finished in 10th place with her time of 17:26.05.
Vagts entered Saturday having posted the fastest time in the Patriot League this season -- 15:47.76 -- in the 1650 freestyle event. His clocking bettered the time recorded by teammate Will Norton by just over one second. Those times meant the two would be swimming in adjacent lanes in tonight's final of the event. Vagts built a lead of three seconds after 100 yards and grew his lead throughout the race. He led by 11 seconds after 500 yards on his way to winning the race by 29 seconds. Vagts would go on to post a time of 15:04.38 to win the 1650 title for the second consecutive season. Additionally, he is looking to advance to the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year after surpassing the NCAA `B' cut time by 26 seconds.
Norton would finish second to Vagts with his time of 15:33.85.
Vandament, who won the three-meter event Thursday, scored 234.00 points to finish third in the preliminary rounds of diving for the one-meter board. She would move up one place in the final standings to win the silver medal with a score of 240.85. Winning the event was Bucknell's Tara Boyle with a score of 243.40 points. Her Bison teammate Katie Hetherington placed second with a tally of 239.50, with Navy's Jordyn Nicholl scoring 233.75 points to finish in fourth place.
One of the most exciting races during the first two days of the meet was the final of the women's 100 backstroke. Navy's Kellie Darmody posted a time of 55.27 to edge Colgate's Lia Kunnapas for the win in the event by less than one-quarter of a second. The duo would go at it again in what turned out to be the most exciting final of the entire championship.
Darmody was the top seed in the 200 back thanks to her time of 1:59.76 in Saturday's trial heats. She would swim in lane four, while Kunnapas, the 2010 champion in the event whose time of 2:01.97 Saturday morning was the No. 4 time of the session, would swim in lane six. Kunnapas held a slim lead of six-tenths of a second after 50 yards, then extended it out to nine-tenths of a second after 100 yards. Darmody whittled the deficit down to 56-hundredths of a second after 150 yards, but Kunnapas still held a lead as the duo reached the final 12 yards of the race. Darmody had one last charge in her and quickly climbed back into the race. At the end, not only did the eye think it was too close to call, so too did the scoreboard as it registered a time of 1:59.03 for both swimmers.
Darmody was joined in the final by teammates Amanda Thach, who would finish in fifth place (2:02.60), and Olivia Kosaka, who would place sixth (2:03.13).
Conor Campbell previously just missed qualifying for the championship final in 100 backstroke event, but he posted a time of 51.20 in winning the consolation final of the event. Campbell made sure he would be in Saturday's championship final of the 200 backstroke as his morning time of 1:47.25 was the fastest of any swimmer in the field. Campbell and teammate Gage Trotter, who won the 100 backstroke, had a good contest going for the majority of the 200 backstroke final. Trotter held a slim lead over Campbell after both the 50 and 100-yard time checks, but Campbell built a lead of one-half of a second after 150 yards. He would keep expanding upon that cushion until the very end as his overall time of 1:46.79 was 1.5 seconds better than the rest of the field. Joseph Stark had a very strong last 100 yards to move into third place in the final standings with a time of 1:48.25, while Trotter ended up in fifth place (1:48.98).
American's Leah Breen recorded the fastest time of the morning trial heats, but Army's Paige Brink would top Breen by eight-tenths of a second in the final. Brink recorded a time of 50.74, while Breen finished the race in a time of 51.53. Navy's Hollis Capuano was close behind in third place with a time of 51.77, with Bryn Moriarty placing seventh (52.82) and Danielle Reminger placing eighth (52.97).
The championship final of the 100 free had a decidedly Navy slant to it as five of the eight swimmers in the race were Mids, including each of the top four qualifiers from the morning session. Zach Ingold, who won the 50 free earlier at the meet, was the No. 1 seed with his time of 44.69. He would quickly take a lead of six-tenths of a second after 50 yards before going on to win the race by almost one-quarter of a second over a hard-charging Mac Anthony. Ingold posting a winning time of 44.19, an NCAA `B' cut clocking, with Anthony recording a time of 44.42 to place second. The next hand to touch the wall was that of Navy's Hugh Davison in a time of 44.75, with Sean Bagent placing sixth (45.72) and Robbie Parker finishing in seventh place (46.08).
Now competing in her third Patriot League Championship, Gorinski entered Saturday night having won all five breaststroke races she has competed in at the meet in her career. She added her fifth crown earlier this week by winning the 100 breaststroke. In that race Friday night, Gorinski built a lead of one second after just 50 yards before winning the event by 2.4 seconds. As strong of a performance as that was, she was even better this evening. It took only 50 yards for her to lead the field by 1.77 seconds before she held leads of 2.43 seconds at the midpoint of the race and 4.51 seconds after 150 yards. In the end, Gorinski touched the wall after being in the water for only 2:10.67, which smashed her own school and league records (2:11.10), her own league meet record (2:12.08) and her own Lejeune Hall pool standard (2:13.51). Additionally, her time was not only almost five seconds faster than the NCAA `B' cut time of 2:16.20, it was just off of the NCAA `A' cut time of 2:09.72.
Not to be forgotten in Gorinski's wake were strong performances by teammates Colleen Randolph, who placed seventh (2:23.26), and Jenn Abbott, who placed eighth (2:23.67).
Luke Hoffer had placed third for Navy in the 100 breaststroke final, but he was the top seed -- by almost six seconds -- in the 200 breast final. Hoffer more than made his seed hold up as he led from start to finish in winning the race with an NCAA `B' cut time of 1:58.13. He would win tha race by over four seconds over Bucknell's Christian Treat and by five second over Navy's Ben Grove's third-place time of 2:03.23.
Toni Paruso had already won the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly titles at this year's championship, and she entered tonight's championship final of the 200 fly as the No. 1 seed with her morning time of 1:59.81. One of her top competitors in the final would be teammate Rheanna Vaughn, who won the event at the 2011 championship. The duo would be first and second the entire race, with an early lead accrued by Paruso at the start holding up at the very end. Paruso would win the race in a time of 1:59.32, an NCAA `B' cut time, with Vaughn winning the silver medal in a time of 2:00.81.
"I had no idea what was going to happen this week," said Paruso. "I just looked at my teammates this week and knowing how hard we have worked for this all year just got me ready.
"Winning this year meant everything to us. Every hard practice, every time coach yells at you to get going, it is all worth it."
Navy's Cat Cortesio placed sixth in the final with a time of 2:08.14, while Jones, who swam in the first championship final of her four year career earlier this week, placed eighth in a time of 2:08.66.
The Meyer family has dominated this event over the last few years. Adam Meyer won the 200 fly in both 2009 and 2010, while younger brother Mark won the title at the 2011 championship. Mark would continue the family tradition as he posted a time of 1:46.06 to win the race again this year by 15-hundredths of a second over teammate Ben Bondurant (1:46.21). Finishing third in the event was Navy team captain Steve Dukleth in a time of 1:47.69.
All three times posted by the Mids were NCAA `B' cut times.
Army's Chris Nguyen picked up his second title of the week by winning the three-meter board in a time of 372.55. Placing second in the event was Navy's Ben Freedman with a score of 340.95, while Wil Mayo placed third with a tally of 323.60 points.
400 Freestyle Relay
Navy and Colgate battled it out from the very first event this week, so it was no surprise to see the two teams challenging each other one more time in the closing 400 freestyle relay. Colgate held a slim lead through 150 yards, but a great final 50 yards of Bryn Moriarty's second leg gave Navy a lead of almost four-tenths of a second. She gave way to Darmody, who grew the advantage out to 1.6 seconds. Anchoring the relay for the Mids was Gorinski, who settled things almost as soon as she hit the water. The gap between Gorinski and her Colgate counterpart became 2.3 seconds at the midpoint of her leg of the race before eventually being 2.65 seconds at the very end. Navy posted an overall time of 3:24.01 to better the Colgate clocking of 3:26.66.
One of the keys to Navy's success over the last several years has been the performance by its relay teams. The Mids had won each of the five relay titles at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 league meets, and were chasing their fifth relay crown of this year's meet as the 400 freestyle relay teams lined up tonight. Ingold was the first to hit the water and he took a lead of one-half of a second after 50 yards before expanding it out to almost 1.3 seconds after 100 yards. Following Ingold was Dain Bomberger, who allowed the Mids to maintain that advantage before giving way to Davison. Davison broke open the race by over two seconds after his first 50 yards and took it out to 3.4 seconds after another 50 yards. Anchoring the race was Anthony, who would eventually give Navy a victory by almost 4.5 seconds. The Mids completed the race in a time of 2:56.27, which broke the school, meet and league record of 2:56.76 and the pool record of 3:00.45. It also fell halfway between the NCAA `A' cut time of 2:51.26 and the `B' cut time of 3:01.09.
Two other historical footnotes took place during the race. Ingold's opening leg of the race -- 43.61 -- broke the Navy and Patriot League record of 43.96 for the 100 freestyle set by Mike Linn six years ago. Additionally, Anthony's win allowed him to tie the record for the most titles won by an individual at the Patriot League Championship. Anthony accrued 18 titles in his career -- eight individual event, 10 relay event -- which ties the record held by Army's Joe Novak.
"You get certain guys to come around once every four or eight years, and Mac is one of those guys you just can't replace," said Roberts. "He is a good kid and I will always think of him and his personality, our interaction and how he constantly could step up and just lead this team with his guts and courage."
Final Women's Team Scores
1. 933.5, Navy
2. 692.5, Colgate
3. 593, Bucknell
4. 422.5, Army
5. 317.5, Lehigh
6. 217, Lafayette
7. 213, American
8. 116, Holy Cross
Final Men's Scores
1. 1,029.5, Navy
2. 638.5, Bucknell
3. 534.5, Army
4. 460, Lehigh
5. 271.5, American
6. 262, Colgate
7. 164, Lafayette
8. 123, Holy Cross
Male Swimmer of Meet - Justin Vagts, Navy
Female Swimmer of Meet - Laura Gorinski, Navy
Male Diver of Meet - Chris Nguyen, Army
Female Diver - Courtney Vandament, Navy
Male Rookie - Will Viana, Army
Female Rookie - Ange Sawick, Navy
Men's Coach of the Year - Bill Roberts, Navy
Women's Coach of the Year - John Morrison, Navy
Diving Coach of the Year - Errol Carter, Bucknell