Princeton Edges Out Men's Swimming for Ivy Title
With an undefeated dual meet season in the books, the No. 18 Harvard men’s swimming and diving team (9-0, 7-0 Ivy) entered this weekend pursuing one last goal for the season: an Ivy League title.
“We went in with the attitude that it would be a challenge,” co-captain Owen Wurzbacher said. “We viewed ourselves as underdogs.”
After three days of competition, the Crimson eventually fell short of its goal, losing the Ivy League Championships by a mere 68 points to Princeton.
With a 1,514 point total, the Tigers just barely edged out Harvard to claim their fifth-straight Ivy League title.
“Across the board, everyone performed to the level they were capable of performing,” co-captain Greg Roop said. “We did the best we could. Obviously, we came up short of our goal. But ultimately, the score was out of our control. No one has a reason to hang their head about their performance this weekend.”
It was a close contest all weekend. The Crimson picked up a win in the first event of the meet, taking the 200 meter free relay in record-setting fashion. Griffin Schumacher, Danny Crigler, Oliver Lee, and Chris Satterthwaite posted an NCAA ‘A’ cut time of 1:18.06, good-enough for a school record and a berth to the NCAA Championships.
That evening, sophomore Michael Mosca picked up his second straight Ivy title in the one-meter dive, setting a pool record with a 387.05 point total. He later went on to the three-meter event and was named Karl B. Michael High Point Diver of the Meet.
After Thursday’s competition, Harvard held a slim 467-423 lead. But Princeton came storming back in the second day of competition, opening Friday with a win in the 200 medley relay.
But the Crimson kept the points race close. Satterthwaite won the 200 free with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 1:35.00. Sophomore Chuck Katis, who has led Harvard with strong performances all year, earned his first Ivy title with a win in the 100 breast in a pool-record time of 53.90. But even with the victories, the Tigers overtook the Crimson and held a 972-949 advantage into the final day of competition.
“We expected to be down a little bit more than we were,” Roop said. “We knew if we were within 40 points of Princeton, then we had a chance of winning the meet. Everyone was pumped up about the preliminary heats that morning because that was ultimately where we were either going to win or lose the meet. We had a lot of people step up and swim really fast, but Princeton, to their credit, swam lights out.”
Satterthwaite helped lead Harvard’s charge, picking up a win in the 100 free with a time of 43.28.
“[He] was lights out every time he got on the blocks,” Wurzbacher said. “That was incredible, and we needed that from him.”
The Crimson swept the podium in the event, with Oliver Lee claiming second and Griffin Schumacher rounding out the top three. But despite the strong efforts, Harvard saw its chances of overtaking the four-time reigning champion slip as the day progressed.
“Our team swam absolutely lights out,” Wurzbacher said. “They did absolutely everything we could’ve asked them and more. Princeton was just better this weekend. That was something we were okay with because we knew we gave it everything we had.”
But in the final event of the meet, even with Princeton’s victory sealed, the Crimson had one of its most impressive swims with a record-breaking win in the 400 free relay. Satterthwaite swam the opening leg in 42.99, the first Harvard swimmer to ever break the 43-second mark in the leadoff position. Schumacher, sophomore Zach Walters, and Lee followed in a similar fashion to finish in an NCAA ‘A’ time of 2:52.32, good for both school and pool records.
“Chris went off in a time that would’ve sent him to NCAA’s automatically,” Wurzbacher said. “And then each guy stepped up in that relay in a way none of them had ever before to make sure we won. Princeton swam out of their minds in that 400 freestyle relay. Everything each of our guys did was necessary to win that race.”
In total, the Crimson picked up eight victories on the weekend while setting six school records and posting 28 NCAA ‘A’ or ‘B’ cut times.
“It really was the best meet we could’ve swam,” Roop said. “We had some really amazing performances. You just can’t help but feel really good about the direction this team is headed in, even though we didn’t end up winning.”
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonBRN.