It was an exciting start to the Columbia Lions’ 2015-16 campaign on Friday night at Uris Pool in New York City. The hosts kept the crowd on the edge of their seats until the end, as the final score would depend on the outcome of the winner-take-all 400 free relay. In the end, the Black Knights prevailed, 143-133.
After Army West Point won the opening 200 medley relay, the freshmen talents of both teams were on display from the very first individual event at Uris Pool. Columbia’s Brian Tsau (9:23.68) and his classmate Eric Ng (9:24.50) touched out Army West Point first-year Thomas Ottman (9:37.81) in the 1000 free to kick off the meet. Tsau and Ng went 1-2 in the 500 free, as well, touching in 4:34:80 and 4:37.06, respectively. Ottman again finished third (4:37.78).
Army West Point freshman Jay Yang picked up three individual wins for the Black Knights. In the 200 fly, Yang (1:49.47) beat Columbia freshman Shane Brett by 2.6 seconds. Yang then won the 200 back (1:49.72) and the 200 IM (1:51.33), the latter by only 6/100.
Senior Christopher Szekely was instrumental in the Black Knights’ victory as well, taking both sprint freestyles (20.72/45.25) and contributing to the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.
Columbia diver Jayden Pantel won two events for the Lions, scoring 299.93 in 3-meter diving and 321.15 in 1-meter. His teammate, freshman Kevin Fulton, was runner-up on both boards.
Army West Point sophomore Evin Rude earned more points for the Black Knights with a narrow (.14) victory in the 200 free going 1:41.56; his classmate Josh Sembrano clocked a 50.33 to claim the 100 back title.
Columbia countered with a Forrest Davis-led 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 breast (Davis was 57.36; Jae Park, 57.75; and freshman Jack Smith, 58.15). In the 200 breast, it was Columbia’s Joseph Lozano out front (2:04.82); Park and Smith were again second and third. The Lions earned one more win when Kevin Frifeldt was first to the wall (49.61) in the 100 fly.
It all came down to the 400 free relay, which the Black Knights won handily. Szekely, Brandon McCredie, Devin McCall, and Rude combined for 3:02.92 to Columbia’s 3:04.30, leaving the final score 153-143 in favor of Army West Point.
Columbia begins Ivy League competition next weekend. They travel to Penn on Friday, November 13 then return to Uris Pool on Saturday, November 14 to host Yale.