2014 Horizon League Championships: Newcomers Make Impactful First Impression, Oakland Sweeps Team Titles

by Christine Wixted 1

March 01st, 2014 College

Newbie Oakland University made quite the first impression on the Horizon League during this weekend’s championships.  The men won in dominating fashion by almost 200 points while the women just edged out their team title over Milwaukee.  Despite the Grizzlies sweeping the team champion titles, the league meet featured a multitude of new Horizon League and meet records.  Oakland University came in with a bang and are on the right foot heading into the future of the Horizon League.

1650 Freestyle

Natalie Johnson of Milwaukee won by over 18 seconds in a 16:45.92 while Anna Gomez was second in a time of 17:03.64 and Jodi Turk was third in 17:08.20.  Nichole Contesti grabbed fourth place in a time of 17:08.81 while Veronica Gibson was close behind in 17:0958.  Alyssa Udean (17:23.67), Kaela Ropson (17:25.24), and Grace Waller (17:31.70) rounded out the top eight.

The men’s race was won in an even more dominant fashion by Oakland’s Amr El Sayed.  Swimming to the win in 15:12.18, El Sayed won by over thirty seconds.  Coming in behind him was Nic Halverson, 15:44.20 for second and Jacob Pearson was third in 15:48.57.  Fourth place was sealed up by Matthew Dassow in a 15:53.08 while Kyle Riordan was fifth in a time of 15:56.61.  Kenny Stelpflug (15:59.94), Ryota Kuwahara (16:03.66), and Patrick Walsh (16:10.02) closed out the top eight places.

200 Backstroke

The Golden Grizzly women got their first title of the night right in the 200 backstroke.  Karin Tomeckova grabbed the gold in style, breaking the old Horizon League conference record in a time of 1:57.48.  Becky Yokosh who finished second was the only other swimmer under two minutes, finishing in a time of 1:58.36.  Megan Hunter captured third in a 2:01.49, Natalie Neuwirth was fourth with a 2:02.89, and Kendra Rottier was fifth in a time of 2:03.50. Rounding out the top eight was Erika Pliner (2:03.58), Ashley Dow (2:03.75), and Kelsey Johnson (2:05.25).

Oakland’s men would dominate, sweeping the podium with Jordan Merrilees (1:45.19), Aleksander Danielewski (1:45.57), and John Ferrara (1:47.11).  Merrilees would follow suit of his lady counterpart, breaking the championship and meet record by four tenths of second.  Al Shillito swam to a fifth place finish in 1:48.55 and Jeff Maxwell was fifth with a 1:49.33.  Chris Jenkyns (1:50.49), Ryan Blakenship (1:52.26), and Gage Alleman (1:52.80) rounded out the top heat.

100 Free

The lone sprint of the night featured a tight race.  Spots 1-4 were decided by .24 seconds with Rowan Elbadry leading the way in a 50.72.  Anna Yontz was close behind with a 50.81 while Alex Johansson was third in 50.92 and Diana Diel finished fourth with a 50.96.  The last four spots in the heat were close as well, only separated by .47.  Nikki Flynn (51.14), Parker Wolf (51.34), Samantha Miller (51.47), and Christine Kopacko (51.61) wrapped up place 5-8 in the final heat.

Alex Lewis of Cleveland tied the Horizon League and meet record in the men’s 100 free, winning in a time of 43.33 seconds. Oakland finished 2-6: Grant Harding (44.08), Jeremiah Morren (44.47), Matyas Keresztes (44.86), Tuomas Kiviluoma (44.98), and Zach Johnson (45.16).  Spots seventh and eighth were locked up by Bentley Demuth (45.35) and Ben Loeffelholz (45.53), respectively.

200 Breaststroke

Emily McClellan garnered her second individual title of the meet, again in dominating fashion.  McClellan snuck under the 2:10 barrier, winning in a time of 2:09.06; a whole seven seconds in front of the field.  Takara Martin dropped to second in 2:16.56 while here teammate, Rachel Waite, finished third in a time of 2:18.95.  The race for 4-6 was close with all three swimmers going 2:19s.  Monica Pinkus grabbed fourth in a 2:19.04, Melissa VanderMeulen finished fifth (2:19.29), and Lindsey Verhulst touched for sixth in a time of 2:19.30.  Hanna Lucas was seventh, 2:22.75 while Erin Cox was eighth in 2:23.60.

Another pair of records fell in the men’s race when Ryan Korslin touched first in a 1:58.99, eclipsing the old records by half a second.  Nathan Grant (1:59.11) and Hrafn Traustason (1:59.66) were the only other two swimmers under two minutes, finishing in second and third.  Clement Quilliec (2:01.55), Willem Poelmans (2:01.77), and Christian Grobe (2:02.19) finished in fourth, fifth, and sixth.  Spots seventh and eighth was rounded out by Csongir Bajnoczki (2:06.78) and Lance Bergmann (2:02.83).

200 Butterfly

The women of Oakland grabbed another individual title in a close 200 fly race.  Emily Ludema beat out Melanie Waszak by .40 seconds, winning in a time of 2:01.13.  Julie Vela was third in a 2:02.99 and teammates from Green Bay, Haley Lucas (2:04.52) and Alyssa Udean (2:04.97) finished fourth and fifth.  Rounding out the top eight was Stella Pasalidou (2:05.56), Danel Voorhees (2:05.35), and Meghan Miller (2:05.96).

The men’s race was even closer, with Kei Ishimaru edging out the victory in a 1:47.95 over Justin Kermack (1:48.08).  Mitchell Ayers was right in the thick of things, finishing third in a 1:48.37.  Mario Rusnak grabbed fourth in a 1:48.59 while there was a tie for fifth: Ryota Kuwahara and Ryan Finke both going 1:52.30.  Al Shillito (1:52.90) and Jenia Foster (1:53.06) closed out the A final in seventh and eighth.

Women’s 1-Meter

The Lady Grizzlies picked up some valuable points in this event with their own Tricia Grant grabbing the gold.  With 344.20 points, Grant was at the top of the podium.  Whitney Johnson was second with a score of 293.40 and Rachel Margis was third with a 291.70.

400 Free Relay

The women’s relay gave the end of the meet an exciting finish.  Cleveland State was able to edge out Milwaukee by just .08 seconds for the win.  The squad of Rowan Elbadry, Christine Kopacko, Amanda Pallija, and Alex Johansson got to the wall first in a time of 3:23.01.  Milwaukee was right there in 3:23.09 while Oakland finished in third with a time of 3:26.33.

The Oakland men sealed their conference title with the final win in the relay.  The quartet of Grant Harding, Amr El Sayed, Jeremiah Morren, and Jordan Merrilees swam to wall first in a time of 2:56.66.  Cleveland was second with a 2:58.70 while Univeristy of Illinois-Chicago grabbed third with a time of 2:59.19.

Final Team Standings (points may be off, were not listed-off of livestream announcer)

1. Oakland-764
2. Milwaukee-730
3. Green Bay-576

1. Oakland-844
2.Cleveland State-627
3. UI-Chicago-520

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7 years ago

Great work Grizzlies! OU Pride shining! Great to see leadership of senior men come out on top as team and individuals. Congratulations to Jorden Merrilees who had a stellar meet 3 individual wins breaking league records and anchoring leg of 800m and 400m relays for two more firsts and two more league records. An achievement unequalled in the meet. Shame to miss out on swimmer of the meet.

About Christine Wixted

Hailing from the Mile High city of Denver, CO, Christine Wixted is a current senior at Duke University. Her swimming career started at the age of 12 and is soon coming to a close with only one semester of collegiate compeition left. Throughout her four years at Duke, she has …

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