Navy Sweeps Swimming & Diving Star Meets
ANNAPOLIS, Md. ---- The Navy swimming and diving teams combined to win all but three of the 32 events contested during the annual Star Meet with Army West Point Thursday evening at Lejeune Hall in Annapolis. The Mids won the women's meet by the score of 223-77 and Navy claimed the men's meet by a count of 209.5-90.5.
The Navy women (8-0) have now defeated Army (1-2) in each of the last 29 seasons and the Navy men (8-0) have won 27-straight meets against the Black Knights (2-2).
The Star Meet, part of the Star Series presented by USAA, was contested in front of a crowd in excess of 1,000 fans and a video stream that featured three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines on the broadcast.
"The atmosphere was as exciting as ever," said Navy women's swimming head coach John Morrison. "The Brigade showed up in full force, there were a lot of parents here, alumni, and it was just a great crowd to compete in front of. That electric atmosphere produced great swims."
"We cannot thank the people that come out to support swimming and diving enough," said Navy men's swimming head coach Bill Roberts. "There was a great mix of people in the stands, a lot of different generations of alumni, parents, fans, Midshipmen, Cadets and just fans of the sport. We absolutely feed off of that."
Navy's depth came to the forefront during the meet as a combined 17 different Mids won at least one individual event, Navy placed at least first and second in 18 individual events ---- plus three of the four relay races ---- and first, second and third in 11 events.
The Mids jumped out on the Black Knights at the start of the meet. After the Navy women placed first (1:40.77) and second (1:42.02) in the 200 medley relay, the Navy men placed first (1:27.29), second (1:28.95) and third (1:29.22), though only two teams can score in a relay event.
The individual events began with Navy's Jenny Smith (Sr., Columbus, Ohio) and Erin Jordan (Jr., Schnecksville, Pa.) finishing in first (9:58.90) and second place (10:00.40) in the women's 1000 freestyle. The Mids then placed first, second and third in the men's edition of the race as Ryan Waters (Fr., Basking Ridge, N.J.) posted a time of 9:03.61 to lead all competitors.
Ally Warnimont (Jr., Winston-Salem, N.C.) followed to pace a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Mids in the 200 freestyle, with Ethan Whitaker (Sr., Chesterton, Ind.) winning the men's 200 free (1:37.22). Navy swimmers also claimed events seven and eight, the 100 backstroke, with Kaitlyn O'Reilly's (Sr., Farmington, Minn.) time of 54.95 leading a 1-2-3 placement for the women and James Wilson's (So., Ephrata, Pa.) posting of 47.46 giving the Mids a first and second-place showing in the men's race.
Lauren Barber (Jr., New Wilmington, Pa.) and Michael Velasquez (Jr., Henderson, Nev.) recorded times of 1:01.15 and 54.78, respectively, to give the Mids the victories in the 100 breaststroke, with Delaney Walz (So., Mays Landing, N.J.) notching a time of 1:58.89 to win the 200 fly.
The first half of the meet closed with Navy winning both 50 freestyle events. Biz Graeff (Sr., Canton, Ohio) won the women's edition of the event in a time of 23.09, then Maclean Crossley (Fr., Watertown, N.Y.) posted a clocking of 20.20 to win the men's race.
Navy also had good success in the initial diving events. Meghan Gerdes (Fr., Spring, Texas) recorded a score of 276.68 to win the women's one meter and Bradley Buchter (So., Hickory, N.C.) accrued 437.33 points to lead a 1-2-3 finish for the Mids in the men's three-meter event. Gerdes would go on to win the three-meter board with a score of 276.30 points and Buchter again paced a 1-2-3 effort for the men on the one meter with his tally of 376.58.
"I was extremely proud of how the divers competed tonight," said diving coach Rich MacDonald. "They've been working really hard and it is great when that hard work pays off. To think that of the 10 divers, only one had been in an Army-Navy meet at home before tonight. That's pretty awesome. Bradley had two of the best meets he's ever had. And it was great to see Meghan get two wins in her first competition against Army."
The second half of the swimming events began with Casey Lawson (Jr., Spring Lake Heights, N.J.) and Zach Piedt (Jr., Fort Mill, S.C.) winning the pair of 100 freestyle races with times of 50.61 and 44.37, respectively, then Ashley Boddiford (Fr., Oviedo, Fla.) and Billy Cadigan (Fr., Lutherville, Md.) won the 200 backstroke races with efforts of 1:56.78 and 1:46.20, respectively.
Barber would go on to earn her second win of the night as her effort of 2:14.06 gave her the victory in the 200 breaststroke. Chris Bondarowicz (Fr., Scotch Plains, N.J.) would pace a 1-2-3 Navy effort in the men's version of the race with his clocking of 1:59.43. Navy dominated the 500 freestyle events as the women took the top-three spots ---- won by Erin Scudder (So., Western Springs, Ill.) and her time of 4:51.50 ---- and the men took the first-four placings led by Waters and his effort of 4:24.49.
Walz would join Barber with two swimming wins as she posted a time of 54.75 to lead a 1-2-3 finish for Navy in the 100 fly, with O'Reilly becoming the fourth member of the women's team to win a par of events as she won the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:01.06.
The Navy women would close out their meet by placing first (3:22.25) and second (3:25.40) in the 400 freestyle relay, and the Navy men won the final event of the night in a time of 2:57.00.
"It is very hard to put words into the event," said Roberts. "The USNA does a great job of setting the tone for what this rivalry is all about. For me individually, to be a part of it is a huge honor. We just try to do it justice. This event tonight embodied what people think of when they think of a great collegiate rivalry."
"The depth was incredible," said Morrison. "We had a lot of people have just one swim. They stepped up and got it done when it was their turn. That helped us a lot, especially in the second half of the meet. And to have the divers come through and not give any kind of hope for a top finish, we were very pleased."
"The meet was amazing," said women's team captain Graeff. "Everyone swam and dove with all their heart. I think we all are emotionally exhausted because everyone left it all in the pool. Even if they didn't go best times, they put everything they had into the water. Everyone is so proud of each other at the end of the day.
"It (the atmosphere) is amazing. Sometimes you go to a big meet and there are thousands in the stands they are not all there cheering for us. Here, everyone here was cheering for Navy. It feels so good. It is the most electric thing ever to swim and know they are all cheering for you and that N Star you are wearing on your cap."
"The way the team performed straight from the get go and without letting up the entire meet was incredible," said men's team captain William Rittenhouse (Sr., London, England). "I think it shows the kind of team we have this year. It is not one star, it is the team working as a unit and swimming as a pack. People may say swimming is not a team sport, but today proved it is.
"I don't think people understand how big a difference it (large crowd) makes. I looked up during the warm-up and I saw every single part of Lejeune packed with fans. It got me so riled up and excited to swim. I know it was that way for everyone else as well."
The Mids broke several records during the course of the meet. The foursome of Wilson, Connor Davis (Sr., Shelton, Conn.), Piedt and Vince Everman (Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.) broke the meet record in the 200 medley relay as their mark of 1:27.29 bettered the previous standard of 1:27.37. Wilson broke both the meet and Navy record in the 100 back as his time of 47.46 was below the record of 47.59. Buchter broke not only the meet record in the one-meter event ---- his score was 22 points higher than the record of 354.35 ---- he also broke both the Navy (430.10) and meet records (381.60) in winning the three-meter board with his score of 437.33 points. Finally, Boddiford's clocking of 1:56.78 in the 200 backstroke was well under the Navy and meet record of 1:58.08.
Both Navy teams are off until January. The men will next play host to Princeton on January 6 and the women are off until January 13 when both Navy teams compete against both North Carolina and Penn State in Chapel Hill, N.C.