The UNYSCSA Championship began today, hosted by Ithaca, who are currently in the lead on both the men’s and the women’s sides with defending champions Stevens in close pursuit. This first session has shown some remarkable individual improvement not only over the course of the season but also from last year’s individual finishes across the board.
The first finals session began with the men’s 500 freestyle, and saw three athletes under the Division III B cut line for the NCAA meet in March. Union senior Adam Herzog was the winner in the event, dropping over four seconds from his prelims swim to win with a 4:33.13. This is an improvement from his third place finish last year. In second was Ithaca sophomore Adam Zelehowsky (4:33.36) who finished seventh last year and rounding out the top three was another sophomore – this one Matt Plunkett of Hartwick, touching in at 4:36.56. Plunkett won the C final in 2013.
In the 200 IM, the top four athletes made it under the B cut standard. Joshua Lefeber, a sophomore at Stevens, claimed the victory with his 1:52.34. He was almost a second ahead of second place Union senior Zack Wahl. Last year Lefeber finished third in a first through fourth sweep by Stevens of this event; this year his two other teammates finished at the bottom of the A final. The battle for second was tight between Wahl and Cameron Martinez; the touch out went to Wahl (1:53.04 to 1:53.19) on the strength of a final 50. Martinez is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence. Last year Martines finished 10th, and Wahl was 11th. In the B final, Ithaca sophomore Addison Herbert dropped over three seconds to win, posting a 1:54.41 – a time which would have earned him sixth in the A final.
Another quartet of athletes were under the NCAA provisional standard in the men’s 50 freestyle. Tyler Hessler, a senior at Stevens, took home the crown by out touching rival Peter Knight (Ithaca) by just .01 of a second. After a disappointing showing in finals last night (he finished 8th), this is a wonderful way for Hessler to wrap up his final Conference Championship, breaking a school record and taking the first 50 freestyle title ever for Stevens. Knight himself was only .02 ahead of Alfred junior David Luke making this top three a ridiculously tight match. Hessler’s final time was 20.77; Knight was a 20.78 and Luke finished in 20.80. In 2013, Knight finished fourth in this event, and Luke was 11th.
To wrap up the evening session was the final relay – the 200 medley. The Ithaca team of Connor White, Lucas Zelehowsky, Taylor Van Cott and Zack Kundel put together a 1:31.80 effort to claim first place. Zelehowsky put up the fastest breaststroke split (25.56), and Van Cott had the swiftest butterfly leg (22.36). Union was second (1:32.22). Their backstroker, Andrew Welch posted a 22.87 on his leg of the relay, the fastest in the field. Stevens’ third place relay (1:32.25) was anchored by 50 free champion Hessler. He split a 19.98 on the final 50, coming up just short of catching and surpassing Union’s anchor.
The team scores at the conclusion of the medley relay were as follow:
Ithaca (392.5), Stevens (329.5), Union (309), Hartwich (216), RPI (191), Alfred (107), Saint Lawrence (93), Skidmore (91), Nazareth (85), Vassar (65), Rochester Institute of Tech (57), Clarkson (57), Utica (30), Sarah Lawrence (27)
The women’s meet began with some serious time drops out of young swimmers. Half the top eight in the first event were freshman, though the winner of the 500 was a junior out of Union – Anne Trojanowski. Last year Trojanowski finished fifth in this event. This year she came close to cracking the five minute barrier in the event, but came up just shy, finishing with a 5:00.89, still about one and a half seconds ahead of second place. Stevens freshmen Danielle Caruso was second, making a major time drop from her prelims swim; she left almost nine seconds behind and went 5:02.45 to claim the runner up spot. Cameron Hess, another freshman, this time from Nazareth, also saw a significant drop from her prelims to finals time; she cut off about five seconds and out touched defending champion Elizabeth Heinbach of Stevens to grab third in 5:08.73. Heinbach finished with a 5:08.86. Another significant time drop came from Rachel Bellis (Hartwick) in the C final; Bellis dropped seven seconds to go from second to last seed in the C heat to win it (5:18.66).
The women’s 200 IM went by a landslide to freshman standout Grace Ayer from Ithaca. She was the leader by 2 seconds going into finals and improved on her seed time by yet another two seconds to finish more than four seconds ahead of the next closest competitor, less than half a second away from the Championship record. Ayer’s 2:05.13 was also the only NCAA B cut in the event. She was joined in finals by teammate Elizabeth Gawrys, a senior. Gawrys posted a 2:09.40 for second place, one spot up from her third place finish last year. Rounding out the top three was Hartwick sophomore Imma Rutigliano (2:09.70).
The women’s 50 freestyle saw the emergence of yet another freshman champion from Ithaca. Lake Duffy posted the only sub 24 50 in finals, clocking in with a 23.96 to claim victory. RIT’s Katie Baldwin (sixth in the event last year) was second in 24.03 and Jenn Rutledge of Stevens rounded out the top three with a 24.14.
In the final event of the night, Union snuck in for the victory over Ithaca by .04 seconds. The quartet of Christina Belforti, Rachel Clegg, Alexis Wojtowicz and Christy Brown joined together to post a 1:47.85, claiming first place. Clegg’s 50 breaststroke split was the only one under 30 seconds (29.58). At the 150 mark, Union was still behind Ithaca, but Brown’s 24.25 split on her anchor leg managed to catch and surpass Cassie Papaleo. Ithaca finished at 1:47.89. The third place finishers were Stevens, posting a 1:48.00. April Lawson posted a 23.89 on her anchor leg, clocking the fastest split in the event.
At the conclusion of the medley relay, team scores stand thus:
Ithaca (282), Stevens (251), Union (215) Hartwick (203.5), Nazareth (167.5), RIT (137), Alfred (105), Vassar (86), RPI (82), William Smith (66), Saint Lawrence (62), Skidmore (53), Utica (28), Clarkson (26), Sarah Lawrence (24)
The meet resumes tomorrow morning at 10 am for prelims. Finals will be at 6 pm. For live results, click here.