The best matchup on paper in the Ivy League turned out to be the most thrilling meet of the season so far, as Columbia and Cornell took it down to the very last event in their dual meet at Teagle Hall Pool in Ithaca last Saturday, January 17.
Last year’s contest had been a rout: the Lions beat the Big Red 184.5-115.5, in Uris Pool at Columbia. But Cornell had one of the Ivy League’s strongest recruiting classes and, after close losses to Harvard and Princeton and a win against Penn, it looked like Cornell might be ready to take down Columbia.
Cornell held a 5-point lead going into the final event, but the Lions swam away with the 400 free relay and the team victory with a score of 152-148.
The meet went as one would have expected, with the longer events and breaststrokes going to Cornell and the sprints, fly and diving adding points to the Columbia side. The two teams split the relays.
Cornell opened the scoring with a 1:31.42 to 1:31.48 medley relay victory from Dylan Sali, Eric May, Jack Brenneman, and Tim Satterthwaite. The Big Red distance duo of freshmen Brandon Sweezer (9:32.74) and Ryan Sharkey (9:40.91) followed up going 1-2 in the 1000. Later they would place 1st and 3rd, respectively in the 500 free, with teammate George Schnaars touching 2nd (4:40.01-4:41.63-4:42.57).
Columbia tied things up after the 200 free, getting the win from Terry Li in 1:42.74. Teammate Michal Zyla (1:43.36) was third, 1/100 behind Cornell’s Schnaars. Li later added a fourth in the 100 free. Columbia earned important victories from divers Jayden Pantel (369.97 points in 3-meter diving) and Micah Rembrandt (308.18 points in 1-meter). Cornell’s Matt McCoy was only .54 out of first in the 1-meter event, while teammate Tommy Hallowell finished third to Pantel and Rembrandt on the 3-meter board.
Cornell’s Sali and Will Stange tallied big points in the backstroke events, going 1-2 in the 100 (49.98-50.74) and 1-3 in the 200 (1:48.96-1:50.57). The Big Red dominated the breaststrokes. Freshman Ilya Evdokimov (56.89) led May (57.18) and Victor Luo (57.19) in a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100. It was Luo on top of the podium in the 200 breast, winning in 2:04.15, with Evdokimov finishing second in 2:04.77.
Columbia procured wins from the Usual Suspects, beginning with Terry Li’s 200 free and continuing on to the Kevin Quinn (1:49.37)-David Jakl (1:51.52) 1-2 sweep in the 200 fly. Alex Ngan won the 50 free with the only sub-21 time, 20.68. Cornell’s Satterthwaite (21.23) and Taylor Adams (21.27) took second and third. In the 100 free, Ngan finished second (46.27) to Jakl (46.11), with Satterthwaite (46.35) just behind.
Jakl doubled with a victory in the 100 fly. His 50.10 put him .30 ahead of teammate Kevin Frifeldt (50.40). The Lions’ Jae Park edged Cornell’s May, 1:52.55 to 1:53.89, for the 200 IM title. That set up the final relay, in which Ngan, Frifeldt, Li, and Jakl combined for a time of 3:04.28 to win the meet. Columbia improved its record to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play, while Cornell fell to 3-4 overall and 2-4 in Ivy competition.