Freshmen and Veterans Lead Pitt to Top West Virginia in Annual Backyard Brawl

by Robert Gibbs 0

January 14th, 2021 AAC, College, News

Pitt v. West Virginia

  • January 13th (diving) – January 14th (swimming), 2021
  • Trees Pool, Pittsburgh, PA
  • SCY
  • Full Results
  • Scores
    • Men: Pitt 193, WVU 107
    • Women: Pitt 173, WVU 127

The West Virginia Mountaineers traveled north this week to face the Pitt Panthers in the two teams’ annual Backyard Brawl, with diving competing yesterday and swimming today. Pitt has won the lion’s share of the contests over the last 27 years, and that continued to prove true over the last two days, as Pitt won on both the men’s and women’s sides, increasing their record to 22-5 and 23-4, in the two series.

Both Pitt’s veterans and freshmen were out in force, as a couple of school records went down. Junior Cooper Van Der Laan, earned one of those records with his  52.41 in the 100 breast, a time that should be right around what it takes to qualify for NCAAs.  He also went 1:55.98 in the 200 breast to sweep that discipline. Senior sprint star Blaise Vera swept the sprint frees with times of 19.80 in the 50 and 43.67 in the 100, winning the latter by nearly a second and a half. Vera also anchored Pitt’s medley relay in 18.99 to a 1:26.93 win, and led off Pitt’s winning 400 free relay in 43.56.

Pitt’s only scheduled dual meet for the fall, against Notre Dame, ended up being canceled, but the Panther freshmen still showed up today strong in their college debut, collecting a total of eight individual wins. Abby Grottle got the individual competition underway by winning the 1000 free in 9:57.18, a new personal best, and she completed the distance sweep later in the session with a 4:56.29 in the 500 free.

Warren Briggs also made an immediate impact for Pitt, coming out of the gate by winning the 1000 free by nearly 18 seconds with a time of 9:08.74. That time broke the previous school record of 9:09.30, set by Eric Limekmann back in 2002. Briggs also won the 500 free in 4:26.48, while would have been Pitt’s fastest time last season. Pitt failed to have any swimmers score in this event at ACCs last year, where their highest finisher placed 40th (it took a 4:22.96 to score).

Polish national Marcin Goraj rounded out Pitt’s trio of two-event champion freshman, sweeping the backstrokes in 47.93 and 1:45.39. Fellow freshman Genna Joyce won the 200 breast in a tight race over classmate Anneliese Hohm, 2:17.19 to 2:17.79, and Javi Zorzano of Spain wrapped up the individual competition with a 3:56.27 in the 400 IM.

The Mountaineers also had a mix of strong swims by freshmen and veterans alike. Freshmen Jordan Buechler won the women’s 200 free by over a second with a time of 1:49.33, and later she nearly doubled up, ultimately taking 2nd in the 100 free to Pitt’s Madison Nalls, 51.31 to 51.39.

Senior David Dixon swept the butterfly events, first taking the 200 in a very solid mid-season time of  1:44.25, then winning the 100 with a 47.84.

On Wednesday, West Virginia divers set a pair of school records, as junior PJ Lenz earning a score of 396.98 in the 3m event, and freshman Sara Haggerty earning a 254.03 in the women’s platform event, although that event does not appear to have been included in the overall results.

Pitt Release

PITTSBURGH – University of Pittsburgh swimming and diving swept local rival West Virginia on Thursday at Trees Pool. The men cruised to a 193-107 victory while the women captured a strong 173-127 win over the Mountaineers.

In the 27th consecutive season that Pitt and West Virginia have met in swimming & diving, Pitt now owns a 23-4 advantage with a current nine-meet winning streak during the span on the women’s side and 22-5 edge for the men. Pitt coach John Hargis has an 8-2 overall record (5-0 women’s, 3-2 men’s) against West Virginia.

Women’s Recap
The women started off the day with a first-place finish in the 200 yard medley relay, as Kathleen Lynch, Tatum Detwiler, Sophie Yendell and Emma Wilson turned in a time of 1:41.71. The Panthers also garnered first-place in the 400 yard Free relay with a time of 3:24.07 from Shahar Menahem, Madison Nalls, Katie Fuhrmann and Yendell.

In their collegiate debuts, Abby Grottle and Genna Joyce both won multiple events. Grottle led the way in the 500 Free (4:56.29) and 1,000 Free (9:57.18, a personal record). Joyce turned in a time of 2:17.19 for first in the 200 Breast. Both topped last year’s best times by a Panther in the respective events.

Daisy Anderson also won in multiple events. She earned first-place in the 400 IM (4:17.88) and had a personal-best time of 2:00.31 in the 200 Fly.

The Panthers swept the 100 Breast, as Tatum Detwiler led the way with a personal-record of 1:02.51 followed by Kate Fuhrmann (1:03.83) and Anneliese Hohm (1:04.72).

Nalls took the 100 Free with a time of 51.31.

“The women battled today,” said Hargis. “We have had so many injuries, sicknesses, and you stick that with COVID in terms of the fall season in general into the Christmas time, training on both sides has been up and down. The way the girls battled today was true heart, and you can just tell they truly wanted it. Abby [Grottle] had a heck of a meet and that was fun to watch. Madison [Nalls] was tough today as she hurt herself earlier in the week and we didn’t know if she was going to be swimming today. For her to have the meet she had with the injuries she’s dealt with was truly a gutty performance.”

Men’s Recap
The men also started off their meet with a first-place finish in the 200 yard medley relay, as Stephen Hopta, Cooper Van Ver Laan, Marcin Goraj and Blaise Vera recorded a time of 1:26.93. In the 400 Free relay, Armin Remenyi, Serhii Ahadzhanian, Vera and Goraj teamed up to take first place with 2:57.98.

Warren Briggs couldn’t have had a better collegiate debut as he broke the men’s oldest school record in the 1,000 Free. Briggs won the event with a time of 9:08.74, topping Eric Limkemann’s previous school-best time of 9:09.30 set on Feb. 21, 2002 in the BIG EAST Championships. Briggs later on recorded another first-place finish in the 500 Free (4:26.28), better than any time in the event from last season by a Pitt swimmer.

Briggs wasn’t the only Panther to set a new school record, as Cooper van der Laan broke his own record (52.71) and set a new Trees Pool record in the 100 Breast with 52.41 to earn first place in the event. Van der Laan also garnered first in the 200 Breast.

Marcin Goraj and Javier Zorzano joined the other Panthers to win multiple events in his first-ever collegiate meet. Goraj took the top spot in the 100 Back (47.93) and 200 Back (1:45.39), while Zorzano captured first-place in the 400 IM with 3:56.27

Blaise Vera continued his dominance in the Backyard Brawl, winning the 50 Free (19.80) and the 100 Free (43.67) for the third-straight year against West Virginia.

“The men had a bad taste in their mouth from last year,” said Hargis. “Training for them has been a little steadier, but all in all they had a bad taste in their mouth and been wanting this one for a long time. Right from the get go, that medley relay was the fastest medley relay I have ever seen in one of my Pitt teams in a dual meet, and to go one and two in the front end like that was fun to watch. I think that set the tone, and Warren [Briggs] breaking the school record in the next event in the 1,000 free spring-boarded the guys from that point. Cooper [Van Der Laan] going 52 and 1:55 in the breaststrokes for a school record in the 100 breast probably qualifies him for NCAA’s, and to be able to do that in a dual meet format is phenomenal. We are in a good place right now and we are excited to race Army in a couple of weeks.”

Up Next
Pitt is back in action with another home meet against Army on Saturday, Jan. 30 that starts at 11 a.m.

West Virginia Release

Not yet available. 

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