The West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pitt Panthers squared off this morning at the WVU Natatorium for the 2016 installment of their short course rivalry meet dubbed as the “Backyard Brawl.” This meeting marks the 28th time the women have competed against one another and the mens’ 21st. Having not won the duel since 2010, the Mountaineer men defeated their rivals 180.5 – 119.5 while the Pitt women thrashed the home team 188 – 111.
The Panther women initiated the Backyard Brawl with a close victory in the 200 medley relay with a finish of 1:45.35, but the West Virginia men’s relay had no problem shutting out their rival at 1:32.19 to 1:33.85. Leticia Lelli and Hannah Wittman paved the way for Pitt in the 200 free with their finishes of 1:52.86 and 1:53.97 just as Mountaineer swimmer Nate Carr was the only sub 1:40 200 free in the men’s race.
West Virginia snatched the 100 back with Courtney Miller’s 57.08 and Andrew Marsh’s 49.65, the only 100 back under 50 seconds in the men’s contest. The Panthers fired back in the women’s 100 breast with Kinga Cichowska annihilating the field at 1:03.39, however, Pitt wasn’t able to secure the men’s race as WVU’s Max Spencer cruised a 55.64 to out swim his heat by two seconds.
Making way for the diving excerpt of the Backyard Brawl, Pitt’s Meme Sharp dove for 278.62 on the 1-meter as WVU’s Lindsay Schmidt knocked off Sharp on the 3-meter springboard with a tally of 301.13. Panther diver, Dominic Giordano, triumphed on both men’s diving events scoring a 365.25 on the 1-meter and 373.35 for the 3-meter.
Starting with Natalie Johnsen’s 2:07.62, WVU took possession of the top-three spots in the 200 fly as Mountaineer teammate Chase Williams (1:52.21) held off two Pitt competitors for his own event victory. Jaimee Gillmore’s touch of 23.77 in the 50 free thwarted a top-three Pitt sweep, but the Mountaineer men clinched a one-two-three acquisition of their own led by Frank Csonka at 21.11. The Panther women retailiated with Emily Murphy’s top time of 51.95 and Danyel Johnson (53.58) and Melissa Pocsai’s (53.71) respective 3rd and 4th place finishes.
The Pitt gals secured more points with Amanda Richey’s 2:03.14 200 back, her 5:01.71 500 free, and Cichowska’s 2:17.52 200 breast. Carr returned to the fray in the men’s 200 back to hinder a Pitt top-three while Spencer registered his second breaststroke title of the day in the 200 breast at 2:01.21. Spencer Gray and Aaron Sett stepped up in the men’s 500 free at 4:36.55 and 4:36.99 for a substantial hike in the Panther’s score.
In the last event of the day, the Panther women sealed their Backyard Brawl success with the 400 free relay squad of Emily Murphy, Lelli, Rachel Brown, and Johnson who together clocked a 3:30.40. After the completion of their 400 free relay, the WVU men could celebrate their first victory against Pitt with their time of 3:02.42.