Navy Sweeps League Swimming & Diving Crowns
LEWISBURG, Pa. –– The Navy swimming and diving teams continued their respective successes at the Patriot League Championship by sweeping the team titles at the event that concluded Saturday night at Kinney Natatorium on the Bucknell campus in Lewisburg, Pa.
The Navy women totaled 868.5 points to outdistance second-place Army West Point’s tally of 537.5 points. The Mids have now won six-straight league titles as well as seven in the last eight years and 16 in their 26 years of membership in the league.
The Navy men accrued 846 points to edge second-place Army’s total of 786. This is after the Mids ended day one in ninth place 46 points in back of the Black Knights after Army won both contested relay events and Navy was disqualified in the initial relay and placed second in the second race. The efforts gave Navy its 14th Patriot League title in its 14 years of competing at the championship.
The Patriot League record for the most consecutive team titles in a sport is 16, which was set by the Army men’s outdoor track and field team from 1992-2007.
“It was a very good week for us,” said Navy women’s swimming head coach John Morrison. “We had a lot of up-and-down swims, but each time someone had a little disappointment in a race they responded with a great effort the next time they stepped up to the blocks. I’m really proud of the way they persevered.”
“I told the guys afterward that every meet carries its own significance,” said Navy men’s swimming head coach Bill Roberts. “Without a doubt, this one will be remembered for a long time for the resilience of the team. I am so proud that it is hard to put into words on their staying positive throughout the meet and just moving forward.”
Included among the individual awards handed out after the end of the meet, Navy’s Rich MacDonald was selected as the Patriot League Diving Coach of the Meet, Delaney Walz (Fr., Mays Landing, N.J.) was tabbed as the women’s swimming rookie (freshman) of the meet, Bradley Buchter (Fr., Hickory, N.C.) was selected as the men’s diver of the meet and Lauren Barber (So., New Wilmington, Pa.) was named the women’s swimmer of the meet.
The evening began with the 1650 freestyle timed finals. Maddie Runge (Fr., Cochranville, Pa.) was the top finisher for the Navy women as she placed second with a time of 16:32.57. That effort placed her five seconds in back of Lehigh’s Meghan Thompson who had competed in a different heat than Runge.
“Maddie dropped 12 seconds in the event from earlier in the year,” said Morrison. “It is too bad the swimmer who won the race was in a different heat than Maddie. It could have made for a different result. But regardless, a great swim.”
The Mids placed two swimmers among the top-eight in the men’s 1650 free –– Sam Ciocco (Sr., Walkersville, Md.) placed fifth (15:41.30) and Jac Cortright (Fr., Richmond, Va.) placed sixth (15:45.49) ––but a trio of Army swimmers placed first, second and seventh to close the gap down from 29 points at the start of the day to just 13 points (569-556) after the 1650’s.
Navy earned its first victory of the evening when Kaitlyn O’Reilly (Jr., Farmington, Minn.) led a 1-2-5 finish for the women in the 200 backstroke final. O’Reilly posted a time of 1:58.15 to finish just in front of teammate Ally Warnimont’s (So., Winston-Salem, N.C.) clocking of 1:59.29. Placing fifth was Navy’s Casey Lawson (So., Spring Lake Heights, N.J.) with a time of 1:59.61.
“Kaitlyn really stepped up for us in the 200 back,” said Morrison.
The Navy men received a spark in the 200 back even before the championship final began as James Wilson (Fr., Ephrata, Pa.) won the event’s consolation final. Then in the championship final, Ethan King (Sr., Collierville, Tenn.) placed third in a time of 1:46.09 and teammate Shane Condon (Sr., Mechanicsville, Va.) finished in seventh place. All three Mids bettered an Army swimmer, which boosted Navy’s slim cushion out to 19 points (606-587).
Kenzie Margroum (Sr., Fort Thomas, Ky.) and Olivia Morrell (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) then placed first and second, respectively, in the championship final of the 100 freestyle. Margroum posted a winning time of 49.78, just in front of Morrell’s clocking of 49.96.
“It is nice to be in a run of placing first and second several events in a row,” said Morrison. “Kenzie had a few difficult swims early in the meet, but it was great to see her come back and win this title once again. And Olivia had a great way to go out with her showing in the race.”
The men’s 100 free began with Navy’s Connor Davis (Jr., Shelton, Conn.) winning and Michael Bundas (Sr., Saline, Mich.) placing fourth in the consolation final. Army swimmers placed third and fourth in the consolation final. That effort gave the Mids one more point on the Black Knights entering the championship final.
Navy then gained one more point on Army with the results of the championship final. Joseph Jaime (Jr., San Antonio, Texas) placed second to lead a trio of Mids in the final. Jaime posted a time of 44.19, Zach Piedt (So., Fort Mill, S.C.) placed fifth (44.65) and Vince Everman (So., Philadelphia, Pa.) placed sixth (44.87). Those results, along with third, fourth and seventh-place showings by the Black Knights, gave the Mids a 666-641 advantage.
“When you are standing on the blocks waiting to start a championship final,” said Roberts, “it is a huge lift to see one of your teammates win the consolation final. The guys really swim and dive for each other. We knew this would be a close meet, and having James –– who swam a spectacular race –– and Joseph win their consolation finals were not just valuable points for us but also a huge boost for the team.”
It was another 1-2 finish for the Navy women in the next event, this time in the 200 breaststroke final. Barber earned her third individual event title of the meet as she posted a time of 2:14.12 to win the final by over three seconds. Touching the wall next was Navy’s Elyse MacIsaac (Fr., Stafford, Va.) with a time of 2:17.91.
“Lauren went after it like the champion she is,” said Morrison. “It was a very solid race and time. Elyse dropped three seconds of time and came from behind in the last 60 yards to finish second. Really pleased with her performance.”
Neither Navy nor Army placed a swimmer in the men’s 200 breaststroke consolation final, but the Mids advanced three to the championship final while the Black Knights qualified two for the event. The potential big point swing toward Navy occurred as Marlin Brutkiewicz (Sr., Mobile, Ala.) broke the meet record in winning the event in a time of 1:54.35. Also, Brayden Lauffer (So., Apex, N.C.) placed third in the final with a time of 1:58.87 and Michael Velazquez (So., Henderson, Nev.) finished seventh in a clocking of 2:01.42.
“Marlin’s race had meaning on many levels,” said Roberts. “He was in a similar situation in this race a year ago and he didn’t reach his goal. For him to essentially wait a full year to get this chance again and then come through says a lot about his character.”
Army swimmers placed fourth and sixth, which bolstered Navy’s lead to 45 points (714-669).
Walz added to the victory total for the Navy women as she claimed the 200 butterfly title with a time of 1:58.54. Joining her in the championship final of the event were fellow Mids Hanna Gillcrist (Sr., Burlington, Ky.) and Lauren Greenberg (So., Waxhaw, N.C.) in third (2:00.91) and sixth (2:01.94) place, respectively.
“Delaney did a really nice job of sweeping the butterfly races,” said Morrison. “This was one of the few times Hanna has competed in this event all year. To finish third in it was great to see.”
The lone Army or Navy men’s swimmer in the consolation final of the men’s 200 fly was Army’s Jason Rodriguez, and he won the race to give the Black Knights nine points. Both programs sent three swimmers into the championship final of the event. Based on this morning’s trial heats, the Black Knights were seeded first, second and fifth and the Mids were third, sixth and seventh. The results from the race saw Army swimmers place first, third and fifth and Navy swimmers finish fourth –– Ryan Bailey (Sr., Youngstown, Ohio), 1:48.55 –– sixth Nick Pfanstiel (So., Fishers, Ind.), 1:49.82 –– and eighth –– William Rittenhouse (Jr., London, England), 1:51.11.
Those placings allowed the Black Knights to cut Navy’s lead down to 25 points (753-728).
The only diving event of the evening was the men’s three-meter diving board. Navy divers placed first, second and third in the trial heats, and the Mids placed first, second and third in the final. Buchter won the event with a new meet and league record score of 430.10, Nate Belch (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) placed second with 350.70 points and Nash Nickerson (Fr., Doylestown, Pa.) totaled 323.10 points to place third.
“What an awesome day we had today with going 1-2-3 in prelims and staying 1-2-3 in the finals,” said MacDonald. “It’s always good when all of their hard work pays off. Bradley breaking all of those records, Nate with his comeback tonight and Nash qualifying for the NCAA Zone Meet made for a great day. I couldn’t be more proud of all the effort this championship.”
One Army diver won the consolation round of diving and another placed fourth in the championship final. Combined, that gave the Mids an insurmountable lead of 806-752 heading into the 400 freestyle relay.
The Navy women concluded its championship with a nearly three-second victory in the 400 free relay. The foursome of Morrell, Charlotte Meyer (Sr., Bethesda, Md.), Barber and Margroum completed the event in a new pool record time of 3:18.95.
“Olivia really set the team up for success with her first leg,” said Morrison, “and Charlotte did a great job on the second leg. Hard to go wrong with putting Lauren out there. And then Kenzie, as she has done throughout her career, really finished things off for us.”
Closing out the championship in a similar fashion were the Navy men as they too broke the pool record in winning the 400 free relay. Jaime, Everman, Piedt and Connor Davis (Jr., Shelton, Conn.) posted a time of 2:56.62 to win the last race of the meet by 1.75 seconds.
“Great cap to the day and the meet,” said Roberts.
Navy will next play host to the ECAC Championship March 3-5 in Lejeune Hall.
Women - Team Rankings
1. Navy - 868.5
2. Army - 537.5
3. Lehigh University - 528
4. Boston University - 515
5. Bucknell University - 502
6. Loyola University - 205
7. Colgate University - 172
8. American University - 159
9. College of the Holy Cross - 96
10. Lafayette College – 82
Men - Team Rankings
1. Navy - 846
2. Army - 786
3. Boston University - 498.5
4. Bucknell University - 429
5. Lehigh University - 343.5
6. Loyola University - 234
7. Colgate University - 154
8. College of the Holy Cross - 131
9. American University - 108
10. Lafayette College - 102