Feb. 24, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Both Navy programs enjoyed strong opening days of the ECAC Swimming & Diving Championship Friday at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The Navy men's team stands in first place with 210.5 points, while the Navy women are in third place with 175 points.
The championship that features full or partial squads from almost 25 schools on the East Coast runs through Sunday.
The Navy men began the evening session of finals by winning the 200 freestyle relay. The foursome of Mids -- Dan Bowden (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.), Brian Sweeney (So., Ellicott City, Md.), Danny Quinn (Jr., Queenstown, Md.) and K.C. Linn (Sr., Newhall, Calif.) -- posted a time of 1:22.18 to edge second-place Columbia by seven-tenths of a second.
Riley Mita (Fr., Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) then won the first individual event of the night for Navy by completing the 500 freestyle in a time of 4:26.90 seconds. He finished 2.6 seconds in front of teammate John Ojard (Jr., Ellicott City, Md.), who placed second. Navy's Kevin Stoddard (Fr., Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Billy Draves (Fr., Gilbertsville, Pa.) also placed fifth and eighth, respectively, in the championship final.
The lone championship finalist for Navy in the next event, the 200 individual medley, was Sweeney. He would finish in third place with a time of 1:51.46, a clocking that was one second faster than the time he recorded in the morning trial heats.
Navy then placed a trio of swimmers into the championship final of the 50 freestyle. Quinn was the top finishing Mid in the event as he tied for third place with a clocking of 20.85. Bowden would also place sixth (20.92) in the final while Linn finished in seventh place (21.06).
The Mids closed out the first night of competition by winning the 400 medley relay in an ECAC record time of 3:18.00. Brendan Walsh (Fr., New York, N.Y.), Andrew Feeney (Jr., Norcross, Ga.), Charlie Hetzel (Sr., Weddington, N.C.) and Quinn comprised the squad.
Additionally on the day, Navy's 400 medley relay team of Gage Trotter (So., Conroe, Texas), Sean Murphy (So., Hudson, Ohio), Steve Dukleth (Sr., Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and Zach Ingold (So., Hornell, N.Y.) broke the school, Patriot League and Lejeune Hall record -- that was set last week during the Patriot League Championship -- of 3:13.59 with a clocking of 3:13.00. The foursome competed in the event as an exhibition team during the morning trial heats.
"I was hoping our team would continue from Thursday (when the two Navy programs saw 11 of its members attain 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials cut times) with its high energy, high intensity showing," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "We as a program have accomplished a lot yesterday, but we did not accomplish anything at this meet. This was day one of the championship. It was important for us to come out and set the tone with a good first session. They did that and got a lot of guys back to swim tonight, then we dropped some more time this evening."
Navy's women's team opened the meet by placing second to C.W. Post in the 200 freestyle relay. Brianna Bilunas (Fr., Omaha, Neb.), Melissa Boughton (Fr., Great Mills, Md.), Toni Paruso (Jr., Savannah, Ga.) and Cat Cortesio (So., Downers Grove, Ill.) combined for a time of 1:35.70 to finish a little more than one-half of a second behind the event's winning team.
A trio of Mids advanced into the championship final of tonight's 500 freestyle. Nikki Hyrkas (Fr., Frederick, Md.) finished in fourth place with a time of 4:59.54, Sam Brennan (Fr., Stillwell, Kan.) placed fifth in a time of 5:00.28 and Lauren Baguley (So., Hudsonville, Mich.) would finish in eighth place with her clocking of 5:06.43.
Olivia Kosaka (So., Burien, Wash.) was the lone Mid to reach the championship final of the 200 individual medley. She would finish in fourth place in the final with a time of 2:07.76. Boughton then represented Navy in the championship final of the 50 freestyle. Her time of 24.37 gave her a seventh-place showing in the race. The Mids also picked up some additional points in diving as Jordyn Nicholl (Jr., Acworth, Ga.) finished in sixth place on the one-meter board with a score of 220.00.
In the final women's event of the night, Navy's foursome of Kosaka, Colleen Randolph (So., Annapolis, Md.), Paruso and Cortesio would combine for a second-place showing in the 400 medley relay with its time of 3:49.56.
"This was a great first day for us," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "This is the best position we have had after day one of the ECAC Championship. We put a lot of points up on the board, which is a fantastic tribute to those who got up and swam for the first time during this championship season. We didn't have too many swims today, so we have a lot left in the tank for the next two days."
Standing in second place in the men's field is Army with 158 points.
"Our guys are pretty hungry to have success at this meet," said Roberts. "This is a big deal for the ones who are competing for us this week. There is a little bit of their wanting to do as well as the guys who won the Patriot League Championship did for us last week.
"Everyone on the team is supporting each other so well, as they have all season. The team is split up somewhat in practice by training group or by stroke, but none of that matters to the team. Everyone is here helping and cheering on whomever is competing. They all know what their teammates have done all year during practice and they are happy to see them have this opportunity and attain success."
The Navy women trail meet-leader Harvard by 27 points and are only two points in back of second-place Marist.
"Those who are getting in the water for the first time in a championship meet have a lot more confidence in them and it is because of their teammates who swam so well in winning last week's Patriot League title," said Morrison. "They are excited to have their own opportunity to compete for a championship.
"This is a great team environment. Pretty much everyone who competed in the Patriot League meet for us was here on the pool deck cheering on their teammates today. They are excited to see them step up and swim."