The tale of the 2016 battle between Ivy League foes Princeton and Columbia on Friday was a much different one than the battle a year earlier, as the host Tigers sent their seniors out of their last meet in the DeNunzio Pool with dominating victories.
- Princeton Men 180, Columbia 112
- Princeton Women 171, Columbia 115
After falling by 36 last year, the Princeton men on Friday reversed that margin to a 68-point win this year. That margin was closer than it could have been too, with Princeton fully-exhibitioning 4 out of 17 events at the end of the competition.
The Tigers set the tone early with a 1-2-3 finish in the opening 200 medley relay, with the 1:30.70 and 1:30.71 from their ‘A’ and ‘B’ relays the only ones eligible for points. Last year, Columbia won this race, albeit with three seniors who have since graduated.
Columbia freshman Eric Ng did manage to keep things close in the first individual event of the day, the men’s 1000 free, where a 9:24.73 left him just behind Princeton freshman Murphy McQuet (9:24.73), but that was as close as the Lions would get: Princeton touched first in every race on the day.
The big-name veterans came up big for Princeton. Princeton senior Teo D’Alessandro won a special 100 IM event in 49.31; Corey Okubo topped him in the 100 back in 50.03; and En-Wei Hu-Van Wright (who red-shirted last season) swam 1:49.87 to take the 200 back by over three seconds.
Though the big names of years past did come through in this meet, the future holds equally bright for Princeton after a big performance by their freshmen, who did the best work on doubles on the day. The rookie McQuet (500 free – 4:35.43) added a double on his early win in the 1000, and Matt Harrington (200 fly – 1:48.23, 100 free – 45.78) also doubled up.
A highlight for Columbia was, as it is in most of their meets, diver Jayden Pantel. He took a victory on the 3-meter with a score of 363.30. That marks his 21st-consecutive dual meet victory in the event, and leaves him now just next week’s meet against Dartmouth from completing a second-consecutive perfect dual meet season in that event.
The Princeton men closed the meet with a little fun in the 200 free relay. While their “A” group swam true to a 1:21.94, their second-best 200 free relay actually combined four of their divers for a 1:52.08 finish that was 5th-place overall. That includes a respectable 25.77 from their top diver Noam Altman-Kurosaki on the leadoff leg. Princeton’s B, C, and D relays were all DQ’ed, leaving the divers’ E relay in a middling place.
On the women’s side, this was the first year that Princeton had dominated in this fashion since 2011, when future National Teamer Andrea Kropp was a freshman for the Tigers. Last year was a mere 2 point win for the Princeton women, and the three before went the way of Columbia.
But in 2016, the Princeton women regained their mojo in this series by winning 13 out of 16 events.
Much like their men, the Princeton women opened up with a 1-2-3 finish in the 200 medley relay. Kathleen Mulligan, Olivia Chan, Elsa Welshofer, and Nikki Larson combined for a 1:43.58, winning by more than four seconds (though there was a DQ’ed Columbia relay about a second-and-a-half back).
That’s the first time that Princeton head coach Susan Teeter has used that combination this season, and given the performance in might be a combination she stays with. The performance wasn’t just isolated to that relay either – those four swimmers springboarded from the medley relay to win a combined 6 of the first 8 individual events on the day:
- Larson in the 200 free – 1:51.03
- Mulligan in the 100 back – 57.14
- Chan in the 100 breast – 1:04.87
- Welshofer in the 200 fly – 2:03.08
- Larson in the 100 free – 51.56
- Mulligan in the 200 back – 2:03.41
Bookending an overall streak of 8-straight victories overall for Princeton were two of Columbia’s three wins. One came by freshman Jessica Antilles in the 200 IM, where her 2:04.78 was two-and-a-half second clear of Princeton’s best Isabel Reis (2:07.29). She owned each of the first three legs in that IM, and though she gave back tenths on the freestyle anchor, it was never a competitive race from about 75 yards onward.
On the back-end of the Princeton streak was a 200 breaststroke win from Columbia’s Mallory McKeon in 2:20.54.
Although Princeton was forfeiting points by the end of that point of the meet, it was Jennifer Shahar who left the biggest impression for Columbia in the 100 IM. She swam 57.38 to touch first, regardless of exhibitions, and her teammate Celia Frick touched 2nd in 57.56.
Earlier in the meet, Shahar also had the fastest breaststroke split by a full second on that Columbia relay that was disqualified (and she had a clean start on a .20 reaction time).