Feb. 26, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy swimming and diving programs capped up a successful two-week run by sweeping the team titles at the ECAC Championship that concluded Sunday at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The two ECAC team crowns come one week after Navy also swept the Patriot League titles.
Navy's men's team won its fourth ECAC title in as many years of competing at the event. The Mids tallied 744.5 points to win the crown. Placing second at the meet was Bucknell with 503 points, while Army scored 493 points to place third.
"One of the target points for the season is championship time," said Roberts, who last week earned the 2012 Patriot League Coach-of-the-Year accolade. "It's what we talk a lot about, starting tomorrow for the whole next year. It is satisfying that we had a lot of guys drop time this week and do things they hadn't done before. Overall as a program this year we did make some gains. There are some goals that could have been a little better, but overall we feel we made some steps forward this year."
The Navy women accrued 583 points to outdistance Harvard and Marist, which tied for second place with 529 points. The win is Navy's first at the ECAC Championship, a meet at which the Mids had never placed higher than fifth at since it resumed competing at the event in 2008.
"It feels great to come away with this win," said Morrison, who also was tabbed as the 2012 Patriot League Coach of the Year. "It has been in the back of our minds since we started attending the ECAC meet how we could successfully put together a team to win both the Patriot League title and the ECAC championship in back-to-back weeks. Both are important to us."
Both Roberts and Morrison were tabbed as the respective ECAC swimming coaches of the year, Navy's Riley Mita (Fr., Stevenson Ranch, Calif.) was named as the ECAC Men's Swimmer of the Year and Toni Paruso (Jr., Savannah, Ga.) continued her strong championship meet season for the Mids by earning ECAC Female Swimmer-of-the-Year accolades.
"I wasn't really sure how this week would go," said Mita. "I had surgery last summer for a torn ACL, so the whole season I was trying to see where I was at. But I ended up getting best times this week. That's a result of the motivation you get from these teammates. They help so much. I would never want to be on another team."
"A huge mistake I made last year was putting limits on myself by setting too many goals," said Paruso, who won three individual events during the recent Patriot League Championship. "Instead, this year I just said I'm just going to go. My teammates are training hard every day and we're just going to swim every race for them. They were my motivation to swim well at Patriots last week and coming in this week I was feeding off of them; I see all of their faces and that they were all ready to go, so I got ready to go and we went out and won another championship."
Mita led a 1-2 Navy finish in the 1650 freestyle race. He posted a time of 15:20.19 to win the event by 24 seconds over teammate John Ojard (Jr., Ellicott City, Md.). Additionally in the event, Kevin Stoddard (Fr., Highlands Ranch, Colo.) placed fifth for the Mids with a time of 15:55.74.
Brendan Walsh (Fr., New York, N.Y.) gave the Mids their second event win in as many finals of the session by winning the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:48.47. Joining him in the championship final for Navy were Drew Mays (Jr., Southlake, Texas), who placed third with a clocking of 1:49.61, and Andrew Golankiewicz (So., Union Beach, N.J.), who finished in seventh place with a posting of 1:51.19.
The Mids also placed a pair of swimmers into the championship final of the 100 freestyle race. K.C. Linn (Sr., Newhall, Calif.) would place fifth with a time of 45.64, while Danny Quinn (Jr., Queenstown, Md.) recorded an eighth-place showing with a time of 45.94.
Three Mids stepped up to the starting blocks for the championship final of the next event, the 200 breaststroke. Andrew Feeney (Jr., Norcross, Ga.) was Navy's top finisher in the race as he placed second with a time of 2:03.14. Meanwhile, Alex Cook (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) finished in fourth place with a time of 2:03.30 and John Stuy (Fr., Carmel, Ind.) placed fifth in a clocking of 2:04.81.
Billy Draves (Fr., Gilbertsville, Pa.) closed out the individual event portion of the championship by winning the 200 fly in a time of 1:49.15. The Mid would edge Army's William Viana for the win by four-hundredths of a second. Charlie Hetzel (Sr., Weddington, N.C.) also placed fourth for Navy in the final with a time of 1:50.24.
Navy's Dan Bowden (Fr., Charlotte, N.C.), Brian Sweeney (So., Ellicott City, Md.), Quinn and Linn then combined for a time of 3:01.91 to place second in the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay. Winning the race was Bucknell in a time of 3:01.69.
"Depth has been the key for both championships," said Roberts. "A lot of guys stepped up, working their way into finals and then getting up and race to accumulate those points that gave us the championship."
"I think we're always striving to be that top-25 team (in the country)," said Mita. "We may not have had that ranking, but we definitely think we deserve to be up there. This week we proved that we belong."
Sam Brennan (Fr., Stillwell, Kan.) was the top finisher for the Navy women's team in the 1650 freestyle. She placed sixth in the timed final with a clocking of 17:06.51.
Navy scored a number of key points in the 200 backstroke final as Amanda Thach (Fr., Seattle, Wash.) finished in second place -- by just two-hundredths of a second -- in a time of 2:01.02, with Lauren Baguley (So., Hudsonville, Mich.) following in third place with a time of 2:01.09.
Paruso matched Thach's showing by finishing in second place in the 100 freestyle final. Her time of 51.08 was four-tenths of a second in back of event-winner Katrin Heider from Villanova. Also reaching the championship final was Laura Gorinski (Jr., Greensburg, Pa.), who placed fifth for Navy with a time of 52.01.
Gorinski came right back in the ensuing event and placed second in the championship final of 200 breaststroke. Her time of 2:13.97 was 1.3 seconds behind the time of 2:12.66 recorded by Villanova's Erin Malone.
No Mids advanced to the championship final of the 200 fly, but Cat Cortesio (So., Downers Grove, Ill.), Danielle Reminger (Jr., Wheaton, Ill.) and Gina Grabowski (So., Lawrenceville, N.J.) scored crucial points for Navy by placing 10th, 11th and 16th, respectively, in the consolation final.
Those results meant that as long as Navy successfully completed the 400 freestyle relay, the Mids would win the overall team title. The initial results of the final saw Marist, Navy's closest competitor heading into the race, winning the gold medal, Harvard in second place and Navy, with a foursome of Melissa Boughton (Fr., Great Mills, Md.), Brianna Bilunas (Fr., Omaha, Neb.), Paruso and Baguley, in third place with a time of 3:31.26. However, the Marist team swam in lane one as opposed to its designated lane seven. This resulted in the Red Foxes being disqualified, which moved the Crimson into first place in the race and the Mids up to second.
Navy would have still won the team title had Marist not been disqualified.
"Having the depth that we displayed last week and this week is exactly what we are looking for," said Morrison. "Having depth and improving it only makes our front line swimmers better. Winning with our depth last week and this week showed we are on the right path to being a great team. I'm really proud of everyone who swam this week. Those who swam for the first time had a great meet and won their first championship, and some stepped up big this week after a grueling three-day meet last week. Everyone on the team should be very proud of what they have accomplished over the last 10 days."
"This is something we have never done before," said Paruso of winning Navy's first ECAC title. "The men have won both titles before, but this is the first for the women's program. This is on a different level for us. It is exciting and we are going to use this to get ready for next year and hopefully repeat this success."