Navy Men Win, Women Place Second at Patriot League Championship
Feb. 24, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy men's swimming and diving team won its fifth title in as many years at the Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championship, while the Navy women's team placed second at the three-day championship held in Navy's Lejeune Hall. The Navy men's program totaled 887 points to outdistance second-place Bucknell by 203.5 points, with the women's squad accruing 679 points to finish 44.5 points in back of first-place Colgate.
"The guys on the team spent a lot of the last week revising their goals for this championship, and I think narrowing down what they wanted to accomplish really helped us focus on putting together the type of meet we ended up having," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts.
"I could not be more proud of our team than I am right now," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "We knew coming into the meet what type of mountain we would have to climb in order to win. We kept fighting until the very end and never gave up. We were continually closing gaps were great performances. It was an effort you would expect from a tremendous team with a great captain as we have in Kristin Lowd."
In addition to the team trophies, individuals with both Navy programs collected many of the major awards presented at the conclusion of the championship. Navy's Katie Griffin and Jon Galinski were tabbed as the league's divers of the year, Tara Chapmon earned female swimmer-of-the-year honors, Alex Buck was selected as the men's rookie of the year, Morrison was named as the women's swimming coach of the year and Joe Suriano garnered diving-coach-of-the-year accolades.
Navy Event-by-Event Recaps
Navy Women - Tara Chapmon, first, 16:34.63 (Navy, Patriot League, Patriot League Meet record), Clare McKenna, 12th, 17:58.00; Heather Klein, 13th, 17:58.79; Erika Hubbard, 16th, 18:13.16.
Tara Chapmon made it three titles and three records in three events at the championship with an impressive time of 16:34.63 in winning the 1650 freestyle Saturday night. Her clocking bettered the previous Navy standard of 16:49.81, set by herself this past fall, as well as the prior league record of 16:36.52 set by Meghan Thiel of American two years ago.
Chapmon is the first Navy swimmer to win the 1650 title in five years and it was just the sixth championship in the event claimed by a Mid.
Thiel held a slim lead through the first several hundred yards of the race, but Chapmon powered through and held the advantage for the last two-thirds of the race before going on to win by nine seconds over the second-place Thiel.
"I thought I had to go 16:40 to beat Meghan, but my best time was 16:49, so this was very unexpected," said Chapmon.
"Another great night for Tara," said Morrison. "She swam a great race tonight and that was a big spark for everyone on the team. To break a 1650 freestyle record by 15 seconds is impressive."
Warner was solidly in third place during the entire race behind event winner Lucky Trafton of Bucknell (15:34.89) and Kyle Newman of Army (15:54.83).
"This is my first year as a distance swimmer, so I just wanted to try and better my time each time I competed," said Warner. "I am excited about the result and about the future for myself."
"If you would have told me 12 months ago that Dan would place third in the mile at this meet, I would have said no way," said Roberts. "We came across him as a distance swimmer by accident. He was training really well and we had an opening in the event for the Army meet this year and he jumped at the opportunity. Making everything better is that he is one of the hardest workers on the team, so I am very happy for him."
It came down to the final dive, but when it counted most Katie Griffin nailed her effort to win the one-meter springboard event and win her second league title of the meet and the fourth over the last two years.
The last diver of the event, Griffin was neck-and-neck with Army's Lindsay Adao when she stepped up to the board to perform a back somersault, two and one-half twist with a 2.7 degree of difficulty. Griffin, who went undefeated during the 2007-08 regular season, received scores in the 6.0-6.5 range on her last dive, which was just enough to give her the victory over Adao. Griffin scored 261.10 points on her six dives, while Adao totaled 252.90 points.
"It's one of my better dives, which is why I put it last," said Griffin. "There is a comfort level with it, but with what the situation was, my heart was pounding. I knew what I needed to do, so I told myself to do everything as I normally do."
"It was a fitting way for Katie to end her career," said diving coach Joe Suriano. "She has come through when she needed it every time out. She knew what she needed and she did it."
Colgate's Beverly Walker had extended a slim lead at the start of the race out to 1.5 seconds entering the last 50 yards. Ranzau was able to shave 1.32 seconds off of the deficit over the remainder of the race, but fell to Walker by just under one-quarter of a second (2:04.16-2:04.39). Ranzau's time was a career best and ranks sixth in Navy history, while school record holder Jennie Spencer placed fifth in the final with a season-best time of 2:06.34.
"I am disappointed I didn't win," said Ranzau. "I thought I was going to get her at the end. But I dropped another second off of my time so I am pleased with that.
"I am very happy with how my first league championship has gone. I was second in each event this year, so I'm going to shoot to be first next year."
The Mids qualified three swimmers into the championship final, which turned into a dual between Ryan Ward and Billy Vey. Vey held a slim lead through the opening half of the race, but Ward took over first place prior to the 150-yard mark and held it until the end. Ward edged Vey for the title by just under three-tenths of a second, with teammate Danny Mizelle tying for fourth place.
"With three of us in the final, we were just trying to score as many points as possible," said Ward.
"I knew I was in trouble when I saw I was in the lane next to Ryan," said Vey. "He looks at me every day in practice and always gets me in the last bit of every race."
Thuy-Mi Dinh recorded the first NCAA A cut qualifying time in Navy history and set multiple records in winning the 50 freestyle Thursday. Saturday morning she set Navy, Patriot League and Patriot League Meet records in the 100 free with her clocking of 50.02 to enter tonight's final as the favorite. Two days ago she became the first swimmer in league history to crack the 23-second barrier with her time of 22.37; tonight she became the first to go under 50 seconds as she won the title with a clocking of 49.91. It was short of the time needed for an NCAA A cut in the event (49.42), but she will still be able to compete in the 50 free at the NCAA Meet as her time bettered the B cut standard of 50.90.
"I was shooting for the A cut, but I am very happy to have dropped more time from this morning," said Dinh.
"Thuy-Mi has had an amazing year and an amazing meet," said Navy assistant coach Rob Lias. "The first A cut in Navy history, the first person in the league to go under 23 seconds in the 50 and 50 seconds in the 100; and she is just getting started."
Alex Oldenkamp quickly jumped out to a slim lead of under two-tenths of a second over Lehigh's Daniel Johnson and American's Joe Coronato after the opening 50 yards of the 100 freestyle Saturday night. Oldenkamp recorded a solid time of 23.50 over his second 50 to win the event in a time of 45.07 and sweep the sprint freestyle races at the championship. Alex Buck stood in fourth place after the first half of the race, but breezed to a time of 23.53 in the second half to end up in a tie with Johnson for second place.
"It seemed like a 'guts' race between Alex and myself out there," said Oldenkamp. "He raced really well tonight, as did Nathan. It was nice to have the three of us in the final together.
"Alex has done all we have asked of him," said assistant coach Adam Kennedy. "This is the type of meet we knew he could put together, but he is just scratching the surface of what he can do. We expect big things out of him two weeks from now at the EISL Championship.
Women - B Final - Allison Aichele, fifth/13th, 2:29.49.
Navy's lone finals qualifier in the 200 breaststroke was Allison Aichele, who placed fifth in the consolation final with a time of 2:29.49.
A trio of Navy swimmers qualified for the finals of the men's 200 breaststroke Saturday. Nathan LeRoy would be the top finisher among the Mids in the event as he placed third with a season-best time of 2:04.26. Andrew Utama, who swam a season-best time of 2:06.42 in the trial heats of the event, placed sixth with a clocking of 2:06.97, while Pete Donahue placed seventh in the final with a time of 2:07.33.
"This meet and this year have been so much more than I expected," said LeRoy. "My only goal this year was to better my high school times and I smashed them. A lot of that credit goes to the coaches. I'm just happy to be a part of this team.
"He is one of the more focused individuals on the team," said Roberts. "All he wanted to do this year was improve. He is a great competitor who is very coachable and has all four strokes."
Kelly Zahalka won the 200 fly title last year and holds the Navy record in the event, but she came out of the trial heats Saturday morning seeded third in the final to Colgate's Erin McGraw and Caren Guyett. McGraw led all qualifiers with a time of 2:03.93, Guyett posted a time of 2:05.27 and Zahalka recorded a time of 2:05.96. As such, Zahalka would swim the final in lane three next to McGraw in lane four.
McGraw posted a time of 27.60 over the opening 50 yards, with Zahalka four-tenths of a second behind and in third place. The order stayed the same at the midpoint of the race, except that McGraw had opened up a lead of one-half of a second over Zahalka. The Navy junior closed the gap to within two-tenths of a second after 150 yards then finished with a blistering 31.91 to win the race by a little more than two-tenths of a second over Guyett and 2.24 seconds over McGraw.
"I was just trying to stay strong throughout the race," said Zahalka. "Having the whole team behind me tonight and during the entire championship was what helped me the most."
"We knew McGraw was going to go out fast, so we told Kelly to just swim her race, swim her lane," said Lias. "It was all heart when she brought it home. Kelly set up her last turn perfectly. It was a great race to watch."
Like Zahalka, Hetzner found himself trailing after the opening half of his 200 butterfly final. He stood in second place to Bucknell's Mike Volpe by four-tenths of a second at the midpoint of the race, but took over the lead after 150 yards and posted the fastest final-50 yard clocking of the race (by over one-half of a second) to win the title by 1.4 second over Lehigh's Jonathan Kearney.
"How the race went was exactly how Andrew planned it," said Roberts. "He went out a little fast this morning, but paced everything perfectly tonight."
Jon Galinski struggled at the start of his one-meter competition Friday, but recovered to win the title. The same scenario played out again in the finals of the three meter Saturday as he struggled early but hit several key dives late to win his second crown of the championship with a score of 332.00 points.
The one meter saw Navy divers place first, second and third, wth the Mids finishing in first, second and fourth in the three meter. Following Galinski in second place was Olaf Olson with 331.95 points, with Adam Niekras tallying 291.95 points to place fourth.
"It was somewhat similar to the other night," said Galinski. "But once I found my comfort zone this evening everything fell into place."
"Jon had two bad dives tonight, but his other four dives were amazing," said Suriano. "He hit one where it looked as if he was just spinning in the air and not falling."
The Navy women's team had already won the 200 freestyle relay and set a school, league and league meet record in winning the 800 freestyle relay at the championship heading into the final event of the night, the 400 freestyle relay. Ranzau gave Navy's second swimmer of the relay, Rachel Gray, a 1.3-second advantage, which shrunk to just eight-hundredth of a second as Gray was paired against Colgate standout Caren Guyett. Tara Chapmon turned that narrow lead into a nearly four-tenths of a second advantage after 300 yards. Last into the water for Navy was Thuy-Mi Dinh, who increased the Navy margin throughout her leg of the race to give the Mids a 2.14-second victory over the Raiders.
Navy's time broke the previous Patriot League Meet record of 3:26.05, the prior Navy record of 3:26.00 and the Patriot League mark of 3:25.70.
While the Navy women built a little bit of breathing room over their foes towards the latter part of the race, that was not the case for the Navy men's relay foursome. Alex Oldenkamp was Navy's first swimmer and despite a 50-yard time of 22.08 and a 100-yard clocking of 45.74, the Mids were trailing Lehigh when the second set of swimmers hit the water. Joe Unruh swam well for the Mids, but Navy's deficit had grown to eight-tenths of a second when he exited the pool at the halfway point of the race. Nathan Durham had a great swim and brought the margin down to just 13-hundredths of a second after 300 yards, then Alex Buck posted a time of 45.16 over his leg of the race to give the Mids a winning time of 3:03.31 and a 1.7-second victory over second-place Bucknell.
"I love being the anchor swimmer and having the chance to chase people down," said Buck.
"It was a great race between three very good relay teams," said Roberts. "Our guys pushed each other in the race. They really stepped up when we needed it. It was a great way to finish the meet."
Individual Awards Won by Navy
Female Swimmer of the Meet - Tara Chapmon
Chapmon earned this award by virtue of her winning the 200, 500 and 1650 freestyle events and setting Navy, Patriot League and Patriot League Meet records in every trials and finals races. A Navy athlete has now earned this award in six of the last seven years.
"This whole weekend has been more than I expected," said Chapmon. "Having Allison (Ranzau) to train with this year has been a huge help. John (Morrison) and Rob (Lias) have given me new training workouts all year and that has helped. Rob has been telling me all year I could go this fast, and all year I said, 'Yeah, sure I can.' I didn't believe him."
"Tara has been extremely competitive all year long," said John Morrison. "She has trained hard all year in and out of the water and that has led to her great results. This weekend she has raised the bar for our program and the league, but what is most exciting is that she is just starting to reach her potential."
Female Diver of the Meet - Katie Griffin
Griffin successfully defended her titles on both boards from last year to repeat as the diver of the meet.
"Katie has done all we have asked of her throughout her career," said Suriano. "She is a great competitor and we are really gone to miss her."
Men's Diver of the Meet - Jon Galinski
After placing among the top-four divers on both boards last year, Galinski won both events this year to earn his first diver-of-the-meet accolade.
"Jon has so much talent," said Suriano. "He is always trying to reach the level he is capable of. He has the potential to reach the NCAA Championship this year."
Men's Rookie of the Meet - Alex Buck
Buck was a member of the Navy water polo team this past fall, but hurt himself midway through the season. He was not able to begin training as a swimmer until Mid-December. Individually at the championship he placed third in the 200 free, fourth in the 50 free and tied for second in the 100 free.
"Alex is a great kid," said Roberts. "He is one of those athletes who is always finding a way to make himself better. He never lets up. The credit for his success is his desire.
Diving Coach of the Meet - Joe Suriano
Suriano's divers have swept the men's and women's titles in each of the past two seasons. He receives this award for the third time in the last four years and for the fourth time in his career.
"Joe is as valuable to our program as anyone," said Roberts. "A lot of what we have been able to accomplish has been because of him."
"Joe is such a great coach," said Griffin. "He keeps us on our toes every day, always trying to make us better. I look for him as soon as I finish my dives. But he is not just a coach, he is a great source of support for all of us."
"When I came here, I knew nothing about diving," said Galinski. "All I know I have learned from Joe. As a coach, he always stays on you and pushes you to excel and improve."
Women's Swimming Coach of the Meet - John Morrison
Morrison earns his second-straight coach-of-the-year award after guiding the Mids to a second-place finish.
"I have never been around a coach who cares more about his athletes than John does," said Kristin Lowd. "He puts his heart into training us to become champions, and that showed in how we swam at the meet. I am truly going to miss him. He has been like a father to me for the last four years."
Final Women's Team Scores
1. Colgate, 723.50 points
2. Navy, 679
3. Bucknell, 644.5
4. Lafayette, 401
5. Lehigh, 328
6. Army, 304
7. American, 275
8. Holy Cross, 150
Final Men's Team Scores
1. Navy, 887 points
2. Bucknell, 683.50
3. Army, 593
4. Lehigh, 358.50
5. Colgate, 348
6. American, 265
7. Lafayette, 201
8. Holy Cross, 124