Feb. 21, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The penultimate day of competition at the Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championship further solidified Navy's position as the leader in both the men's and women's team standings.
Friday began with the Navy women having scored 260 points to lead second-place Boston U.'s total of 211 points and third-place Bucknell's tally of 203. On the men's side, Navy's 356.5 points gave it a 149.5 cushion over second-place Boston U.'s tally of 207.
When the teams filed out of Lejeune Hall in Annapolis at the end of the night, Navy's women's team had opened up a 94-point lead over second-place Bucknell (525-431) and the Navy men had increased its advantage over second-place Boston U. to 162.5 points (595.5-433).
"This is typically our hardest morning at the championship," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison, who has guided Navy to back-to-back Patriot League titles and four titles over the last seven seasons. "We come out a little too relaxed some times, so we are real pleased with how we came out today. Our backs were against the wall with a couple of illnesses, but the team out-performed our expectations by a long shot and put themselves into a great position."
"Overall, I thought tonight was really exciting," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts, whose team is one day away from earning the program's 11th league title in as many years of competing at the meet. "Similar to last night, I think the guys were able to take the morning swims and really push themselves at what they needed to do better. That was one of the great takeaways of last night for me, with how they were able to do that, and then they did the same thing tonight."
The Mids had placed just one swimmer in the championship final of the first event of the night, the women's 400 individual medley. Charlotte Meyer (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) would place eighth in the race with a time of 4:27.51. Lehigh's Courtney Patterson won the final with a time of 4:16.73. With the results, Navy's lead was winnowed to just 27 points (477-450) over Bucknell as the Bison had qualified a pair of swimmers for the final.
The men's edition of the 400 IM saw Bucknell swimmers win both the gold and silver medals. Mike Nicholson won the final in a time of 3:52.84, with teammate Louis Behnen finishing second in a time of 3:54.46. Coming in third place was Navy's Alex Nickell
(So., Loveland, Colo.) with a clocking of 3:54.60.
Navy's women's team was able to expand its margin a little in the ensuing event thanks to Hanna Gilchrist (Fr., Burlington, Ky.) placing third and Rheanna Vaughn (Sr., Aliso Viejo, Calif.) finishing in fourth place in the 100 fly. Gilchrist posted a time of 55.45 while Vaughn touched the wall in a clocking of 55.62.
Army's Ariana Bullard won the race with a time of 53.40, and her teammate Molly Mucciarone came in second place with her time of 54.33.
Those results gave the Mids 319 points, moved Army into second place with 263 points, Boston U. improved to third place with 259 points and Bucknell dropped to fourth with 256 points.
The first victory of the night for the Navy programs came in the men's version of the 100 fly as Jonathan DeBaugh (So., Conroe, Texas) posted a time of 47.86 to win the event by 11-hundredths of a second over Army's Michael Dustin. His clocking also was an NCAA `B' cut qualifying time.
"Jon was spectacular," said Roberts. "I can't say enough good things about that 100 fly. He went after it. He raced out a little close with Dustin at 75 yards, and the last 25 was stroke-for-stroke for the two of them. It was just heart for him to touch the wall first."
Maddi Thompson (So., Jersey Shore, Pa.) followed by giving the Navy women's team its first title of the evening. Thompson, the top seed in the morning trial heats of the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:49.55, posted a time of 1:49.59 to edge Boston U.'s Stephanie Nasson for the crown by 16-hundredths of a second.
"Maddi left a second on the block because she heard something, so she started late but ran people down in the first 25, which usually is awful for a 200 swimmer to do because they will start to fade," said Morrison. "But Maddi was able to put the whole thing together with the confidence and excitement of the meet, and certainly her will to win to fall behind and then fight off one of the best distance swimmers in the league who won the 500 free last night."
The men's 200 free had a decidedly Navy feel as four Mids advanced to the championship final. Tom Duvall (So., Durham, N.H.) and Riley Mita (Jr., Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) set the pace in the race as Duvall won the title in a new Navy and league (1:36.00) and meet record (1:36.29) time of 1:35.32, with Mita following in second place with a clocking of 1:36.98. Each of the top-five finishing swimmers in the race attained NCAA `B' cut times with their respective effort. Additionally for the Mids, Dain Bomberger (Jr., Lititz, Pa.) would finish in sixth place in a time of 1:38.54 and teammate Hugh Davison (Sr., Towson, Md.) placed seventh in a time of 1:38.82.
"Tommy's most impressive thing is that he described the race to me before he swam," said Roberts. "He said exactly how he was going to swim, and that's what he went out and did. I thought he built tempo so well in the first 100, but he just got stronger and stronger as it went on."
Navy's women's team opened the night with just one swimmer competing in the championship final of the 400 IM. A total of four Mids took part in the `A' final of the 100 breaststroke. Gillcrist and teammate Ellen Bradford (So., Knoxville, Tenn.) were the top-two finishers in the morning trial heats, and the duo finished the same way Friday night. Gillcrist posted a time of 1:02.92 to win the final, with Bradford following closely in second with her time of 1:03.75.
"Hanna did a fantastic job," said Morrison. "She got out strong in the 100 fly, I think a personal-best time, then she turned around and went a personal best in the 100 breaststroke. She is a phenomenal athlete overall, and she brought that to the meet tonight. We are real pleased with her progression. She was not anywhere near those times in high school. For her to perform at this level at this meet is pretty spectacular."
Rounding out Navy's swimmers in the final were Colleen Randolph (Sr., Annapolis, Md.) in seventh place (1:05.59) and Kristine Doan (So., San Ramon, Calif.) in eighth (1:05.74). Those efforts allowed the Mids to open up a lead of 97 points (414) over Bucknell (317) and 102 points over Boston U. (312).
The run of victories for Navy stretched to five events in the men's 100 breast as Sean Murphy (Sr., Hudson, Ohio) touched the wall in a winning time of 52.92. He finished 1.42 seconds in front of Austin Dickey of Boston U., and was just four-hundredths of a second off of his new league record time that he set Friday morning. Navy's Luke Hoffer (Sr., Chapel Hill, N.C.) placed third with a clocking of 54.80 and teammate Ben Grove (Sr., Winchester, Va.) placed fifth (54.94), with again, each of the top-five swimmers posting NCAA `B' cut times.
"Sean is one of those guys who everyone in the audience stops to watch him swim," said Roberts. "He is one of those types of kids. It is great to see him have this type of meet in his firstie year. He works really, really hard. I couldn't be happier for him and everyone who has helped him get to this point."
Both Navy coaches felt the success of one team was helping to fuel the other as the evening went on.
"There is not doubt the adrenaline and flow of the meet really gets the team going," said Morrison. "Once we hit our stride after the 100 fly, it seemed like when Jon won the 100 fly, things took off from there. Maddie had a great 200 free and both teams kept on rolling."
"We knew coming in that we didn't have the numbers in the first event," said Roberts, "but there was a lot of exciting swims for both Navy teams tonight. And fast swims lead to fast swims."
Navy's lead in the men's standings grew to 147.5 points after the conclusion of the 100 breast. The Mids had accrued 504.5 points through the end of the race, with Boston U. holding down second place with 357 points.
Bucknell's Emma Levendoski ended Navy's streak by winning the 100 backstroke in a time of 54.15. But the Mids didn't let the Bison cut into their lead too much as Anna Brooks (Fr., Kansasville, Wis.) placed second (54.87) and team captain Lauren Baguley (Sr., Hudsonville, Mich.) followed in third place (55.26).
Navy's Joe Lane (Fr., Durham, N.H.) had set a new Navy, Patriot League and Patriot League Meet record (48.34) in the 100 backstroke Friday morning with his time of 48.04. He would lower his standard even more Friday night with a winning time of 48.01. Teammate Brendan Walsh (Jr., Annapolis, Md.), who held a six-tenths of a second lead over Lane at the halfway point of the final, finished in second place with a time of 48.32. Joining the duo in the final was Navy's Conor Campbell (Sr., Manassas, Va.), who placed fifth in a time of 49.82.
"I'm not surprised Joe was able to do what he did today," said Roberts, of Lane's lowering a record twice in one day. "That's because he has worked so hard this year. Joe gives you everything he has. He does a lot of extra work, especially on his starts and turns. I think what we saw tonight was a reflection of his effort."
The final women's diving event of the meet was held next, with Bucknell's Tara Boyle (276.90) and Tori Molchany (267.10) finishing in first and second place, respectively. Boston U.'s Chelsea Glincman would tally 265.45 points to finish in third place, with Navy's Julie Jesse (So., Edwardsburg, Mich.) following in fourth place with a score of 250.05 points. Joining her in the championship final was teammate Emily Saitta (So., Springfield, Va.), who placed sixth with a score of 238.95.
Neither Jessie nor Saitta had advanced to a championship final on either board during the 2013 Patriot League Championship, but in addition to their efforts Friday on the three meter, Jesse placed third on the one meter and Saitta placed on the board seventh Wednesday night.
"Our team goal was to get both Emily and Julie into both finals," said first-year Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald. "I think it is a huge accomplishment. Not only has the field pretty much stayed the same as it was last year, but Boston brought in some really good divers to only add to the quality and depth of the league. This week is a testament to the hard work and dedication of both Julie and Emily all season long."
The session closed with Navy sweeping the 400 medley relay races.
The opening (backstroke) swimmers in the women's event were Baguley for Navy and Levendosky for Bucknell. Levendosky gave the Bison a lead of nearly one second after the initial 100 yards, but Gillcrist erased all but four-hundredths of a second of the deficit after her breaststroke portion of the race. Vaughn hit the water at the same time as her Bucknell counterpart, but when she emerged from the pool she had built up a nine-tenths of a second cushion over the now second-place Army team with just 100 yards remaining. That was all Thompson needed as she went six-tenths of a second faster than any other freestyle swimmer did to touch the wall in a split time of 49.72. Combined, Navy had posted a time of 3:43.24 -- the No. 3 time in school history -- and with a 1.53 second margin of victory over the second-place Black Knights.
"The relay itself was a strong one for us," said Morrison. "We are really pleased with Lauren leading off with a great, solid leg, then another impressive time for Hanna in the breaststroke. Rheanna has always been solid for us in the butterfly, and then when you rely on, right now, the fastest woman in the meet, in Maddi to close out the freestyle part of the relay, we were very confident going into the freestyle leg with her up on the block. She is going to be a real leader on this team. Just emotionally, and then her pure passion for the sport of swimming. We can't wait to see what she does tomorrow."
It didn't take long for the men's version of the event to turn into a race against the clock for Navy. The foursome of Lane, Murphy, Debaugh and Bomberger would combine for a time of 3:10.94 to win the race by nearly three seconds while crushing the Navy and Patriot League record time of 3:13.27.
"Maybe because it is the most recent event, but I thought the relay was one of our highlights tonight," said Roberts. "It is something we take a lot of pride in, and the fact that the guys knew what they wanted to do and they went up there at the end of the session -- Joe had just swam -- and accomplished it is a credit to a lot of hard work and heart of the team."
Saturday's final day of competition begins at 10:30 a.m. with a session of swimming trials. Diving trials follows at 1 p.m., with Saturday's session of finals starting at 6 p.m.
"We are in a great spot," said Morrison. "We were a little hesitant coming into today, at least in my mind, but the team was not. I expected to be up by about half of what we are. Usually we fight just to hold the lead on this day, but we instead separated a little. Our goal is to win every session, morning and night. Thus far, we have been able to do just that in the five sessions. We have two more to go. We have to show up and not take the day off."
"With points at championships, in an eight-team meet, 1,000 points in a three-day meet is really, really good," said Roberts. "It is hard to control the other nine teams, so I went into this meet just trying to go after one event at a time and just build that lead."
Limited seating is available for Saturday night's final session, so fans are asked to arrive early. For those unable to attend the session, live scoring and free live video of the meet will again be available at NavySports.com.
Women's Team Scores
1. 525 - Navy
2. 431 - Bucknell
3. 385.5 - Boston U.
4. 365 - Army
5. 227.5 - Colgate
6. 212 - Lehigh
7. 176 - Loyola
8. 126 - American
9. 89 - Lafayette
10. 60 - Holy Cross
Men's Team Scores
1. 595.5 - Navy
2. 433 - Boston U.
3. 406 - Army
4. 310 - Bucknell
5. 208 - Lehigh
6. 133 - Lafayette
7. 124 - American
8. 102.5 - Loyola
9. 79 - Colgate
10. 61 - Holy Cross