Feb. 23, 2014
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy swimming and diving teams claimed both team titles at the four-day Patriot League Championship that came to a conclusion Saturday night at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis.
The Navy women's team, which has now won four of the past five league titles and a league-best 12 crowns in 23 years, totaled 778 points to outdistance second-place Boston U.'s tally of 580 points.
"Overall, I think we did what I expected in terms of what our goals at the start of the season were," said women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "Our goal for the whole year is to win championships. To come in here and accomplish that goal is huge, especially with our team. We are really young, but we have a lot of things to look forward to.
"Every year we want to win titles, so this is just another great year for us. We hope this is not the end of it, but it is a great finish for our year. It is the first time we have won three in a row for some time (Navy won five-straight title from 1992-97), so it is nice to have that streak going and hopefully continue on."
"It is very impressive," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts on the efforts of the Navy women's team this week. "John, (assistant) Rob Lias, (men's and women's diving coach) Rich MacDonald, everybody on that side, they just do a terrific job of coaching their athletes. They were a great team this week. They were real supportive. Not only did they win the meet in the water, they won it on the deck, too."
On the men's side, Navy, winners of the championship in each of its 11 seasons as members of the Patriot League, accrued 945.5 points to defeat second-place Army's total of 640.5 points.
"The team swam very, very well this week," said Roberts. "It was the type of meet we hope at the start of the season to have. They were very fast in the water.
"You have to take it one year at a time. The worst thing in the world would be for me to have said we were going for number 11, or whatever the number is. We want to approach each season with a fresh slate. The league is racing well. I think last year there were a lot of improvements by event, and this year it has been one of the fastest Patriot League Meets we have seen. Lots of NCAA `B' cuts and potential qualifiers; just good competiton at each event."
"The guys just lit it up this year," said Morrison of the Navy men's team, "and it was fun to be a part of that. I know our team was inspired by them and they were inspired by our team. Overall, it was a great Navy win. We are real proud of our overall program and the direction they are heading."
Both Navy teams entered the fourth and final day at the meet in the lead -- the women led by 94 points, the men by 162.5 points -- but each were able to extend their margins even more as the day progressed.
"This is usually our biggest day of the meet," said Morrison. "We train all year for the final day of the championship. We came out this morning a little tired up front, but once we got going everyone really came through."
"We had some very good swims today," said Roberts, "and we had some great swims. There was a difference. You never want to swim like you are a team with a lead and some of the swims may have shown that, but overall there were some spectacular swims this morning. They knew what they wanted to do, set things up really well and came back tonight and just raced."
The opening events of the final night were the timed finals of the 1650 freestyle. Rachael Dudley (So., Hoschton, Ga.) was the top finisher for the Navy women's team as she placed fourth with a time of 16:46.07. Joining her in finishing among the top-eight finishers was teammate Sara Lopez (Fr., Lenexa, Kan.), who placed sixth with her clocking of 16:57.07.
Whereas two Mids were among the top-eight finishers in the women's race, Navy swimmers placed first and second in the men's edition of the race. Tom Duvall (So., Durham, N.H.) won the event -- his third of the championship -- with a time of 15:00.99, a clocking that was less than two seconds off of the Navy and league record of 14:58.72 held by Erik Hunter.
Making Duvall's effort more impressive was the fact that he finished 20 seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer, Alex Nickell (So., Loveland, Colo.), who completed the event in a time of 15:20.99. In addition to Duvall and Nickell, Riley Mita (Jr., Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) placed fourth (15:32.37) and Noah Martin (So., Phoenix, Ariz.) finished in eighth place (15:52.37).
"Tom had a real impressive swim tonight," said Roberts. "He knew he was close to the record. I don't want to say he fell off because he was faster than anybody else in the pool, but he fell behind the pace of the record toward the end. But then he really picked up the tempo. I think he knows he can go quicker, but it was a personal-best time, so what can you say?"
The championship final of the women's 200 backstroke saw Bucknell's Emma Levendoski win the final to sweep the backstroke events at the meet. She led at every time check on her way to recording a time of 1:56.56 to win the event.
Navy swimmers would follow in second and third place. Team captain Lauren Baguley (Sr., Hudsonville, Mich.) finished in second place (1:58.30) and Anna Brooks (Fr., Kansasville, Wis.) touched the wall third (1:59.25).
A pair of swimmers bettered the Patriot League record of 1:45.23 in the men's 200 backstroke. Boston U.'s Connor Stuewe would win the race in a time of 1:43.40, with Navy's Joe Lane (Fr., Durham, N.H.) coming in second with his posting of 1:45.07. Though he placed second, Lane's effort still improved upon the school record of 1:45.35 set by Andrew Hetzner.
Navy swimmers would also claim the ensuing two positions in the final. Conor Campbell (Sr., Manassas, Va.) placed third (1:47.43) and Brendan Walsh (Jr., Annapolis, Md.) finished in fourth place (1:48.30).
A timing problem in the morning trial heats led to a timed final in the women's 100 freestyle taking place at night. Lehigh's Kaitlyn Ruffing would win the event with her clocking of 50.51, while Navy's Maddi Thompson (So., Jersey Shore, Pa.) placed second thanks to her effort of 50.65. Also finishing among the top-eight swimmers for the Mids was Olivia Morrell (Fr., Albuquerque, N.M.) with her seventh-place clocking of 51.16.
The Mids picked up their second victory of the night when Dain Bomberger (Jr., Lititz, Pa.) won the men's 100 free final with a time of 43.92. He edged Army's Chris Szekely for the win by one-quarter of a second, while Bomberger's teammate Hugh Davison (Sr., Towson, Md.) finished in fourth place with his time of 44.77.
"Dain earned it," said Roberts. "I think he is a great competitor; he doesn't give up. He went up as the No. 2 seed against an Army swimmer who is very capable of winning the event as well. Dain was aggressive and able to get the win."
The Navy women's team entered the 200 breaststroke final with half of the eight competitors in the race. Mids would place first, third, fifth and eighth in the race. Earning the victory was Ellen Bradford (So., Knoxville, Tenn.) with her clocking of 2:17.03. She touched the wall ahead of Boston U.'s Karla Ferrara's time of 2:17.68.
Finishing in third place was Hanna Gillcrist (Fr., Burlington, Ky.) with her time of 2:17.84, teammate Kristine Doan (So., San Ramon, Calif.) placed fifth (2:20.88) and Colleen Randolph (Sr., Annapolis, Md.) finished in eighth place (2:23.34).
"Ellen did a great job," said Morrison. "It was great to see her finally get an individual event title after following in the shoes of Laura Gorinski last year. She did well. She had a good 100 breast performance last night and tonight it was nice to see her with the win."
A Navy swimmer claimed a third-straight event title as Sean Murphy (Sr., Hudson, Ohio) posted a meet-record time of 1:55.64 to win the 200 breast. Murphy broke the record held by Luke Hoffer (Sr., Chapel Hill, N.C), who placed second tonight with his posting of 1:58.37.
"It was a great swim for Sean," said Roberts. "He had a big-time drop (in time). He dropped three seconds from last year. Similar to Dain, he was real aggressive, and smooth. It is great to see when they can drop chunks of time like that."
Navy's run of success narrowly came to an end in the women's 200 butterfly final. Army's Ariana Bullard posted a time of 1:58.97 to edge Navy's Rheanna Vaughn (Sr., Aliso Viejo, Calif.) posting of 1:59.33. Vaugnn trailed Bullard by 1.57 seconds after 150 yards before being able to shave off all but 36-hundredths of a second of the deficit over the last 50 yards.
Dudley came back after swimming in the 1650 free to place fourth in the final of the 200 fly with a time of 2:01.83.
The women's 200 fly would turn out to be the last event the Mids would not win for the remainder of the evening. That four-for-four effort started when Jonathan DeBaugh (So., Conroe, Texas) won the men's 200 fly. Debaugh posted a time of 1:45.02 to defeat Bucknell's Mike Nicholson by well over a second (1:46.17). Also competing in the championship final for Navy was Noah Martin (So., Phoenix, Ariz.), who placed eighth (1:53.18).
"His (Jon's) was a terrific race," said Roberts. "If you looked at the splits this morning he swam it really well, stroke count and tempo and all. He came back tonight, knew where his strengths were and used that to his advantage. At the third 50, I think everybody said this was going to end up being a great swim."
The final diving event of the four-day meet was the men's three-meter springboard event. Navy advanced four divers to the eight-person final, with the top non-championship final qualifier also being a Mid. Those four divers would go on to place first, third, fourth and eighth Saturday night.
Leading all divers in the session was Wil Mayo (Sr., The Woodlands, Texas) with 346.85 points. Army's Zachary Woods would finish in second place with 334.10 points, but he was followed by Ben Freedman (Sr., Kennewick, Wash.) in third with 323.55 points and D.J. Principato (Sr., Easton, Pa.) in fourth with 322.50 points. Completing the list of Mids in the final was Frank Love (So., Atlanta, Ga.) in eighth place (260.30).
"Today's final was an up-and-down battle, for everyone," said MacDonald. "Nobody was hitting everything, so it was awesome to see the divers when they didn't do something well step up and do something great. Wil did a good job. His second dive he missed pretty bad for the way he could do it. He didn't let it get to him and finished the meet really strong. That was ultimately what gave him the win."
This marked MacDonald's first season as Navy's diving coach. Two of his divers qualified for the championship final in both events in the women's meet and four of his men's divers advanced to championship finals on both the one and three-meter boards.
"I was extremely excited," said MacDonald. "This being my first year and not knowing how they would handle big meet situations like this, I thought they did a phenomenal job. We didn't miss many dives all weekend. I think the biggest thing (for me) has been getting used to life at the Naval Academy and understanding what they go through as midshipmen and students and athletes. That took a little time to get used to. But I am really excited and that is a testament to these midshipmen, of who they are as people and human beings, how quick that coach-athlete relationship solidifies. And I think that is the most important thing. I didn't know how that was going to go; I really didn't. And especially at a meet like this, with not having seen them compete at big-time meets before, I was happy with that. I didn't know we would be able to get that solidified so quickly."
That left just the respective 400 freestyle relay races to be contested. Navy's women's team started things off by posting a time of 3:22.66 to win the race by nearly three seconds of Colgate's clocking of 3:25.33, but margin of victory didn't paint the picture of the overall race.
The Raiders held slim leads over Navy at both the 100 (0.42) and 200 (0.20) exchanges, but Morrell immediately took a slim lead after her first 50 yards (0.15) before giving anchor swimmer Thompson a lead of 17-hundredths of a second.
Just as she did in anchoring Navy's victorious 400 medley relay team Friday night, Thompson hit the water and took off. The precarious lead she entered the water with quickly turned into a 1.19-second advantage after just 50 yards, before she expanded it even more in the final lap. When she touched the wall, she did so 2.67 seconds before the next swimmer did.
The men's race was very similar to the women's in that the Mids did not take control until the last half of the race, but once they did so they were able to cruise to the win.
Navy actually stood in third place after the first 100 yards of the race. Army led in a time of 44.38, Boston U. was second at 44.48 and the Mids were third with a time of 44.78. Davison promptly hit the water for Navy and he gave No. 3 swimmer Mita a slight lead of just over four-tenths of a second at the halfway point in the race. The Terriers would regain the lead by 14-hundredths of a second after 300 yards, but anchoring the effort for the Mids was 100 freestyle champion, Bomberger. He held a lead of over one full second after his first lap before he stretched it out even more on his last lap. Navy would win the race in a time of 2:56.94, with the Terriers placing second in a time of 2:58.82.
Navy also garnered five of the nine major individual awards that were presented. Duvall was named as the men's swimmer of the meet, Lane was tabbed as the men's rookie of the meet and Mayo was selected as the men's diver of the meet. Also, Roberts was voted as the men's swimming coach of the meet with MacDonald earned diving coach-of-the-meet honors.
Major Individual Award Winners
Men's Swimmer of the Meet: Thomas Duvall, Navy
Women's Swimmer of the Meet: Stephanie Nasson, Boston University
Men's Rookie of the Meet: Joseph Lane, Navy
Women's Rookie of the Meet: Ariana Bullard, Army
Men's Diver of the Meet: Will Mayo, Navy
Women's Diver of the Meet: Tara Boyle, Bucknell
Men's Coach of the Meet: Bill Roberts, Navy
Women's Coach of the Meet: Rob Herb, Lehigh
Diving Coach of the Meet: Rich McDonald, Navy
1. 778 - Navy
2. 580 - Bucknell
3. 533.5 - Boston U.
4. 495 - Army
5. 356 - Lehigh
6. 322.5 - Colgate
7. 243 - Loyola
8. 151 - American
9. 107 - Lafayette
10. 74 - Holy Cross
1. 945.5 - Navy
2. 640.5 - Army
3. 609 - Boston U.
4. 477 - Bucknell
5. 291.5 - Lehigh
6. 178 - American
7. 168 - Lafayette
8. 151.5 - Loyola
9. 109 - Colgate
10. 80 - Holy Cross