By Miguel Gonzalez
After a season full of close races, the men’s and women’s swim teams competed in the Metropolitan Conference Championships from Friday, Feb. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Rutgers University Aquatics Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Both squads landed in second place. The men accumulated 1413 points, just behind the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The women scored 1145.7 points, just behind Rowan University.
The men’s team gathered several finishes in third place on the first day. Sophomore Andrew Thompson rose to the top in the 200-meter individual medley, clocking in at 1:51.28.
Fellow sophomore Griffin Morgan followed in second with a time of 1:51.95. Less than three seconds later, senior John Gregory claimed sixth place with a time of 1:54.48.
Senior Alex Skoog snatched third place in the 50-meter freestyle, clocking in at 20.82. Sophomore Patrick Bakey claimed eighth place with a time of 21.18. Junior Harrison Yi then took third at the 500-freestyle with a time of 4:34.42. Sophomore James Keane fought for sixth place, finishing at 4:40.79.
In a tight 400-meter medley relay against conference foes Rowan, Ramapo College and Montclair State University, the Lions finished in third behind USMMA and Rowan. Sophomore Andrew Duff, Skoog, Thompson and Yi clocked in at 3:21.28.
At the diving board, sophomore Jay Soukup claimed second in the one-meter dive and scored 491.93 points.
Meanwhile, the women encountered tough competitors. Junior Annie Menninger took fifth place in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 5:14.51.
Sophomore Melanie Fosko followed up with a neighth place finish, clocking in at 5:19.40. Freshman Zoe Chan made it to third place in the 200-meter individual medley and finished at 2:09.70.
The Lions claimed two top-10 finishes at the 50-meter freestyle. Sophomore Elise Fraser secured fifth place, clocking in at 24.35, while junior Kazia Moore raced to eighth with a time of 25.04.
In the 400-meter medley relay, Menninger, Chan, Fosko and senior Hailey Thayer came in third place with a time of 3:57.76.
Both the men’s and women’s swimming teams had a dominant second day. The men gained 885 points to take first, while the women stayed in second with 755 points, trailing behind Rowan.
Morgan swam ahead of the competition and placed first in the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 3:57.07. Gregory and senior Sam Maquet followed in fourth and fifth places respectively with times of 4:06.74 and 4:07.90. The Lions continued to fill the leader board as Keane claimed sixth place with a time of 4:10.81 and senior Aidan Steinberg finished in eighth, clocking in at 4:28.66.
Thompson kept the Lions on top when he claimed second in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 49.83. Senior Brendan Pilaar was not far behind at sixth place with a time of 50.92. Skoog finished in third in the 100-meter backstroke, clocking in at 50.22. Meanwhile, Duff claimed seventh place in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 56.89. Duff would later team up with Thompson, Morgan and junior Derek Keinsel in the 200-meter medley relay. The Lions ultimately took third place with a time of 1:30.96. While the Lions finished first after the second day with 885 points, the USMMA trailed closely behind with 866 points.
The women’s team also performed well. Chan claimed first place in the 100-meter butterfly, clocking in at 57.35. Just a second later, freshman Kori Jelinek finished in third with a time of 58.39.
Sophomore Nicki Meskin managed to take eighth place in the 400-meter individual medley, clocking in at 4:58.38. Senior Gabi Denicola swam her way to 10th place with a time of 4:49.63. Fosko then got seventh place in the 200-meter freestyle, clocking in at 1:59.79.
Menninger followed her Friday performance with a third-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke. She swam it in just over a minute with a time of 1:05.65. Sophomore Chiara Mennonna secured sixth place with a time of 1:08.48 and sophomore Haley Crispell got 10th place with a time of 1:09.46. Chan, Fraser, Menninger and Thayer teamed up in the 200-meter medley relay and captured second place with a time of 1:47.15. The final day of the competition proved to be a nailbiter for both the men’s and women’s squads.
Holding onto their first-place lead from the second day, the men went toe-to-toe against USMMA, who was able to outlast the Lions despite their valiant efforts.
Morgan excelled at the 200-meter butterfly and won the race with a time of 1:50.08.
Maquet swam right behind him and snatched second, clocking in at 1:52.26. Thompson placed in fourth with a time of 1:53.30. The team then posted three top-10 finishes in the 200-meter backstroke. Kneisel claimed fourth with a time of 1:52.47. Gregory then took sixth, clocking in at 1:56.72. Senior Aidan Steinberg followed up with a ninth -place finish at 1:56.94.
Skoog achieved a second-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 45.61. Just a second later, Yi took eighth place, clocking in at 46.61. At the diving board, Soukup fell his way to third place, scoring 467.5 points. Junior Zachary Volm dove for sixth place with a score of 329.50 points.
The 400-meter medley relays proved to be a showdown between USMMA and the Lions. Skoog, Yi, Morgan and Thompson teamed up and fought to the last second for second place with a time of 3:02.76. USMMA ultimately won the race, clocking in at 3:00.41.
The women secured top finishes as well. Chan had an impressive performance in the 200-meter butterfly, capturing first and clocking in at 2:06.90.
Her time was .77 seconds away from breaking the school record. Jelinek also performed well in her first METs appearance, as she torpedoed to second place with a time of 2:12.35. Mennonna then took sixth place in the 200-meter breaststroke, clocking in at 2:27.20. In the 1650-meter freestyle, Menninger raced her way to fourth place at 18:17.62.
Denicola was not far behind, as she claimed fifth place with a time of 18:41.81. Fosko finished in eighth place in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 54.85.
The Lions will return to the pool in the fall semester for the 2019-2020 season.