Mids in First Place After Day One of Swimming Championship
Feb. 21, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy men's and women's swimming and diving programs both ended day one of the 2008 Patriot League Championship atop their respective standings. The two programs combined to win six of the 11 events completed on the first day of the three-day meet being held at Navy's Lejeune Hall.
The Navy women's team totaled 223.50 points to lead second-place Bucknell by 20 points and third-place Colgate by 34.50 points. Meanwhile, the Navy men's team has a 34-point lead over second-place Bucknell and a 63-point advantage over third-place Army.
"Traditionally we have used the opening day to build up for our efforts on the second and third day of the meet," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "Today, we really stepped up right from the start and made it a point to have success today. We raced well this morning, but we raced even better this evening."
"Every championship meet is different in how you earn your points," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "This year, on the first day at least, we had a very balanced attack. Everyone dropped time from this morning to this evening, which is also a great sign."
Colgate led for most of the race and held a one-half of a second advantage as the anchor swimmers -- Thuy-Mi Dinh for Navy and Beverly Walker for Colgate -- hit the water. Dinh had pulled even by the time the duo made the turn for home, then Dinh had a great finishing kick to give Navy a nearly six-tenths of a second victory. Dinh posted a time of 22.47 over her 50 yards, while Walker recorded a time of 23.57. The Mids as a team won the event with an overall time of 1:34.63 to edge the Colgate clocking of 1:35.20.
"I saw we were trailing as Rachel Gray came up to the blocks," said Dinh. "I didn't feel as good as I did this morning, but I still felt I could catch up if I had a good swim."
Navy and Bucknell were virtually tied at the halfway point in the race, with the Mids holding a slim lead going into the anchor swimmers. Alex Oldenkamp quickly expanded the Navy lead and was clocked in a time of 19.65 over his 50 yards, while Bucknell's Grant Steadman posted a time of 20.49 over his effort. The Mids won the race in a time of 1:22.44 with the Bison placing second with a clocking of 1:23.42.
"I felt I needed to get under 20 seconds in order for us to win," said Oldenkamp. "It was great to be able to help us get on the scoreboard first."
Tara Chapmon broke her own school record by over three seconds during the morning trial heats with a time of 4:49.42. She would quickly take control of the final in the event and posted a new Navy, Patriot League and league meet record time of 4:46.70 to win the event by over three seconds. That second-place finisher was teammate Allison Ranzau who completed the event in a time of 4:49.74 and outdistanced the third-place swimmer by nearly three seconds. Both clockings for the Navy duo were NCAA B cut qualifying times.
"I wasn't sure if I could go faster tonight than I did this morning," said Chapmon. "I think Allison and I looked at splits for about 30 minutes this afternoon to try and find a way for us to finish first and second. It helped being right next to Allison because I know how she swims."
"We didn't expect to win the first relay," said Morrison. "But that was a huge lift for us and it carried through to a great effort by both Tara and Allison. They were a great 1-2 punch in the event."
The Mids placed a trio of swimmers into the championship final with J.J. Helms leading the way for Navy with a fourth-place finish and a time of 4:34.75.
"I'm not as happy as I could have been," said Helms. "I wanted to go 4:32. I took it out a little faster than I should have this evening and couldn't hold it together."
The race of the night took place in the championship final of the 200 IM as it was a dual between Navy's Kelly Zahalka and Colgate's Erin McGaw. Zahalka started fast and held a three-tenths of a second lead after the opening 50 yards, the butterfly, but McGraw took a 1.45 seconds lead at the halfway point of the race when the duo had completed the backstroke. Zahalka had a great third leg, the breaststroke, and her time of 35.78 allowed her to pull to within 11 hundredths of a second of McGraw. Despite Zahalka posting a time of 28.75 over the 50 yard freestyle leg, McGraw's clocking of 28.78 allowed her to hold off Zahalka. McGraw won the event with an overall time of 2:03.30, with Zahalka placing second with a time of 2:03.38.
"I knew I needed to be on Erin's hip going into the breaststroke," said Zahalka. "I was a little farther back than I was hoping and I made the sprint harder. I am disappointed to finish second, but it still was the best time I have ever had in the event so it is hard to be too disappointed."
Navy Men -- A Final - Billy Vey, second, 1:52.34; Nathan LeRoy, fifth, 1:54.20; B Final - Kyle Aber, first/ninth, 1:55.10; Tedd Torgesen, fourth/12th, 1:55.94; Danny Mizelle, seventh/15th, 1:57.39; Andrew Utama, eighth/16th, 1:57.58
Navy's Billy Vey, the defending league champion in the event, held a slim lead of five-hundredths of a second over Army's Jake Mentele as the duo began the freestyle portion of the race. Mentele would better Vey by four tenths of a second over the final leg to the win with an overall time of 1:51.87. Vey would place second with a time of 1:52.23, while teammate Nathan LeRoy placed fifth in the championship final with a time of 1:54.20.
"I am pleased with where I am at in my training and development," said Vey. "You never like to lose, but I was very happy to lead a great Navy group of IM swimmers in scoring. Our depth in the event was key for us tonight."
After making Navy and league history during the morning trial heats, Thuy-Mi Dinh rewrote her own standards at night. She was the top finisher in the trial heats of the 50 freestyle with a Navy, Patriot League, Patriot League Meet and Lejeune Hall record time of 22.57. Additionally, her time was an NCAA A cut mark, the first recorded by a Navy women's swimmer during the program's 17 seasons of competition on the Division I level. That made her the favorite going into the final and Dinh did not disappoint as she posted a time of 22.37 to better all of her marks from the morning session and win the event by a commanding 1.59 seconds.
"I was hoping to be able to drop more time tonight," said Dinh. "I knew I could make the turn better than I did this morning and I was able to do so this evening.
"I am ecstatic to be able to qualify for the NCAA Championship Meet. I am hoping to be able to go even faster there than I did tonight."
"Thuy-Mi took our program to a new level tonight," said Morrison. "We have been fortunate to have had some great swimmers in our program over the years and they all set new standards during their time here that others wanted to emulate and surpass. Now, future swimmers will look to follow in Thuy-Mi's footsteps, but with two more years left she has the potential to leave very big footsteps behind."
Like Dinh, Oldenkamp posted the top time during the morning trial heats of the 50 free with a clocking of 20.39. He would go on to win his first Patriot League title by five-tenths of a second with an overall time of 20.35. Additional Mids to advance to the 50 free final were Alex Buck, who placed fourth, and Nathan Durham, who placed sixth.
"I was a little disappointed in my time," said Oldenkamp. "As in my earlier relay, I wanted to go around 19 (seconds). I hit my turn much better tonight then I did in the trials and that made the difference."
Katie Griffin won both boards last year and was undefeated during this year's regular season to enter the championship as one of the favorites in the event. She would total 300.75 points tonight to win the event, the third league event crown of her career. Additionally for Navy, Desiree' Robison had a great night as she totaled 246.90 points to finish in third place, just 13.30 points out of second place.
"It was a night of mixed emotions," said Griffin. "I was nervous, but I also knew that this was my last time to compete at the Patriot League Championship, so I tried to soak it all in and enjoy myself.
"I was just focusing on my dives and what I needed to do rather than get caught up in what the other talented divers were doing."
Colgate swimmers built an early lead that the Mids were unable to cut into as the race progressed. The Raiders won the race with a time of 3:49.50, with Navy placing second with an overall time of 3:51.99. The Mids placed second by 2.05 seconds over third-place Bucknell.
The midpoint of the race saw Bucknell in first place with a time of 1:46.74, Army in second with a time of 1:46.99 and Navy in third with a time of 1:49.01, and the Black Knights still held a one-second advantage over the Mids after the third leg of the race. Alex Oldenkamp then hit the water for Navy and brought his team to within 0.17 seconds of Army after 50 yards, then posted the fastest final 50-yard time of the race - 44.20 - to allow the Mids to finish in second place, 0.44 seconds in front of third-place Army. Bucknell would win the race with an overall clocking of 3:21.98.
Women's Team Scores
1. Navy, 223.50 points
2. Bucknell, 203.50
3. Colgate, 189
4. Army, 123
5. Lafayette, 116
6. Lehigh, 95
7. American, 86
8. Holy Cross, 56
Men's Team Scores
1. Navy, 224 points
2. Bucknell, 190
3. Army, 161
4. Colgate, 93
5. American, 92
6. Lehigh, 57
7. Holy Cross, 48
8. Lafayette 28