The heretofore undefeated Princeton Tigers traveled to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD on Saturday, January 4 to battle the Midshipmen in their home pool. Both teams are defending champions of their respective conferences (the Ivy League and Patriot League) and have a history of close dual meets. They produced another one again this year, and although Navy led from beginning to end, it was a nailbiter that could have gone either way.
The contest began with a victory for the Mids in the 200 medley relay, as Brendan Walsh, Sean Murphy, Jonathan DeBaugh, and Dain Bomberger beat the Tigers’ Michael Strand, Jack Pohlmann, Connor Maher, and Julian Mackrel 1:29.32 to 1:30.19. Navy widened their lead with a 1-2-3 sweep in the 1000 with Thomas Duvall (9:26.17), Alex Nickell, and Noah Martin. Princeton’s top scorer was Zach Ridout.
In the 200 free, Princeton’s Sandy Bole (1:39.86) and Teo D’Alessandro took the top two spots and picked up valuable points; Navy’s Riley Mita was third. Princeton narrowed Navy’s lead to just two points after sweeping the 100 back with Strand (49.00), En-Wei Hu-Van Wright, and Maher. Navy’s Walsh finished fourth.
That would be the closest Princeton came to Navy, as the Mids’ depth kept the Tigers at bay the rest of the meet. In the very next event, Navy got a sweep of their own, as Murphy (54.33), Luke Hoffer, and Marlin Brutkiewicz took the 100 breast; Byron Sanborn was Princeton’s top scorer.
DeBaugh of Navy won the 200 fly in 1:49.22, while Oliver Bennett and Marco Bove of Princeton finished second and third, respectively. Navy’s Bomberger (20.31), Daniel Bowden, and Riley Weber took the top three spots in the 50 free, just ahead of Princeton’s Jeremy Wong.
At the break Navy led 81-50. Princeton divers Mark O’Connell and Michael Manhard picked up points finishing 1-2 in one-meter diving, while Ben Freedman was the Mids’ highest scorer in third.
The 100 free saw Navy increase their lead with a 1-3 finish from Hugh Davison (45.23) and Bomberger. Princeton’s Wong was second. The Tigers’ Maher (1:48.47) and Hu-Van Wright (1:48.95) had a close 1-2 finish in the 200 back, with Conor Campbell of the Mids racking up points for third.
But every time Princeton was able to claw their way back into a possible winning situation, Navy would get a big win to keep the lead. The final nail in the coffin came when the Midshipmen won the 200 breast and 500 free back-to-back. In the breast it was Hoffer (2:00.56) and Murphy who finished 1-2, ahead of Princeton’s Daniel Hasler. And Navy distance freestylers Duvall (4:35.37), Nickell and Martin repeated their 1000 finish by taking the top three slots in the 500 free. Lance Rutkin was the highest scoring Tiger.
Princeton was able to narrow the Navy lead over the final four events but it wouldn’t be enough to claim victory. They nevertheless had strong swims from Strand who won the 100 fly in 49.24, ahead of Navy’s DeBaugh and Hayes McCullagh, as well as D’Alessandro (1:51.92), Bove and Hassler, who swept the 200 IM. Princeton’s O’Connell and Manhard had another 1-2 finish in three-meter diving, with Freedman of Navy once again in third. Finally, Princeton won the 400 free relay with Hu-Van Wright, Maher, Wong, and Bole (3:00.77) over Navy’s Mita, Bomberger, Duvall and Davison.
United States Naval Academy 157 – 143 Princeton University
Navy (5-2) takes its two-meet winning streak on the road next weekend as it heads to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina, January 11.
Next up for Princeton (4-1) is the big H-Y-P (Harvard-Yale-Princeton) showdown in New Haven on January 31 and February 1.