West Virginia Invitational: Wins Spread Evenly on Opening Day
If parity is your thing, then the West Virginia Invitational is the meet of choice this week. The 10 events on the opening day were won by swimmers from five different schools, with four schools evenly divvying up the relay victories.
While the United States Naval Academy is comfortably ahead of the hosts in the men’s team competition, the women’s team race is led by William & Mary’s 156 points after one day, followed by West Virginia with 155 and Villanova at 151.
Yet neither of those three schools won either of the day’s first two women’s races. The 200 free relay went to the University of Northern Iowa, which won by more than a second and a half in 1:31.35. Faith Larsen, Abby Lear, Amber Finke and Morgan Meyer comprised that squad. (William & Mary’s A squad was disqualified.) Larsen returned to win the 50 free in 22.54 seconds.
The 500 free went in a different direction altogether for the entire podium: Seton Hall’s Allie Waggoner was the decisive winner in 4:47.73. She was ahead of Lauren Hartel of Delaware, with East Carolina’s Emilee Hamblin following in third.
William & Mary’s Sophia Heilen won the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:58.38. Only she and WVU’s Mia Cheatwood cracked two minutes, the latter only .02 under. Heilen swam fly as the Tribe won the 400 medley relay, teaming with Kat Vanbourgondien, Ellie Scherer and Flynn Truskett.
Navy took a little time to assert command on the men’s side of the meet, but it was the only team on either side to medal in each event.
Jonah Harm had a hand in both gold medals. He won the 50 free in 19.96, with teammate Patrick Colwell third and three other Midshipmen in the A final. Harm swam breaststroke in the 400 medley relay, which Navy won in 3:12.20, a margin of 1.68 seconds over Drexel (that’s another medalist!) Ben Irwin, Colwell and Everet Andrew rounded out Navy’s foursome. Andrew was second in the 500 free. Harm led off Navy’s 200 free relay in 19.96 en route to second place.
The hosts won the opening 200 free relay in dominant fashion. Danny Berlitz, Roanoke Shirk, Braden Osborn and Conner McBeth clocked in at 1:19.10, more than a second up on Navy, which went 2-3.
Berlitz went 1:44.78 to win the 200 IM, blowing out the field. Old Dominion’s Bryce Mortimer was second, just shy of 4.5 seconds back. McBeth was second in the 50 free.
Seton Hall swept the 500 free races, with Clil Halevi winning the men’s in 4:26.63.