In a meet that nobody was sure would actually happen, the Army Black Knights opened their season on Saturday in West Point against a co-ed Boston University team and the Vermont women.
While the Army men won their match-up, in the women’s tri, Army beat Vermont 197-103 but lost to Boston University 154-146. For the BU women, that is a victory in their first meet in the Patriot League over the Army women, who took 4th at last year’s conference championship meet.
In the women’s meet, things swung very early in the women’s 200 free. Army freshman Megan Grier started her career the right way, winning with a lifetime best 1:53.30.
Boston, however, has a lot of talented young swimmers of their own. Mika Spencer, Lauren Dixon, and Sarah Hargrave went 2-3-4 for the Terriers: that’s a sophomore and two freshmen.
Boston’s Kendra Cheng won the next race, the 100 back, in 58.01 ahead of Army’s Kelly Hamilton (58.69) and Vermont’s Claire Rutscher (58.78) to really give Boston some momentum.
The teams would trade blows for the rest of the meet, including Army’s Ariana Bullard winning the 100 fly handily in 56.21.
But Boston’s depth was ultimately too much; even with the Black Knights (3:33.63) getting a very fast 52.7 lead-off from Grier, they fell to both Boston (3:32.02) and Vermont (3:33.05) in the meet-closing 400 free relay to put the last nail into the Boston win.
Relying on three-straight solid recruiting classes, Boston looks set up for a very good season this year. They return all four swimmers from their top 400 free relay of last season (along with three of four from their B-relay).
The men’s meet was also a very back-and-forth affair. After Boston won the opening 200 medley relay in 1:33.23, Army junior Casey Woudenberg took the 1000 free in 9:46.11.
Army put up a second-straight win in the next race, the 200 free, in 1:41.78, from another freshman Christopher Szekely. Szekely is on pace to be one of Army’s all-time best swimmers, having broken three freshman records last year, and this meet was a shining start to his sophomore campaign. In addition to the 200 free, he anchored Army’s medley with a 20.0 50 free split, won the 100 free in 46.44, and led off the 400 free relay in a 46.8.
Boston got their first individual win of the meet, though, from Connor Stuewe in the 100 back, where he posted a 51.76 to win by over a second. There’s no bonus points for margin-of-victory, though, and Army largely negated that result by taking the 2-4 positions in that event.
Boston just about evened the meet up in the 100 breaststroke, where freshman Austin Dickey, a USA Swimming Junior National Teamer, swam a 55.71 in the 100 breaststroke. That already puts him within six-tenths of a second of Boston’s school record after just one collegiate meet.
Dickey also won the 200 breaststroke in 2:05.83: a less impressive time overall, but a three-second margin of victory.
The two teams were back-and-forth for the rest of the meet, with the outcome not really turning until the last three events of the meet.
First, in the 100 fly, Army took a 1-2-3 finish. Sam Mo won in 51.23, his younger brother Daniel Mo took 2nd in 51.23, and Sean Regan placed 3rd in 51.68.
Sam Mo came right back in the very next event with a tough-as-nails 1:53.42 to win again, as Army went 1-3-4 (Samuel Mo was 4th in that race).
Those swims put the meet out of reach, and even with Boston going 1-3 (and very nearly 1-2) in the 400 free relay, Army still took a win to open the year.