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NCAA Div. I Men: Princeton Edges Harvard, Overwhelms Yale in Tri-Meet -- February 3, 2003

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 2. PRINCETON men edged a fired up Harvard team -- and its packed poolful of supporters here this afternoon -- winning the annual
"Battle of the Minds" Harvard-Princeton-Yale tri-meet.

Coach Rob Orr's Tigers, defending Eastern Intercollegiate champs, edged its Crimson foe by just five points, 179-174. Harvard in turn defeated Yale, 154-131, and Princeton followd suit, 275-76, at Harvard's Blodgett Pool.

Princeton led the Crimson, 97-89, after 10 events on the first day of competition. However, the home team -- supported by a boisterous and overflow crowd that continuously roared its support -- closed the gap considerably this afternoon. It took a one-second Princeton victory in the final event of the competition -- the 400 freestyle relay -- to seal the visitors' win.

Princeton's victorious 400 free relay team of Jamie Leahy, Mike Salerno, Justin Chiles and Carl Hessler hit the touchpad in 2:59.61, one second ahead of Harvard.

Tiger senior Jesse Gage, already in possession of a pair of golds from Saturday's races (50 free-400 medley relay), did his part to maintain the Princeton lead. He won both the 100 yard freestyle and 100 butterfly today and in the freestyle, led a 1-2-3 Princeton sweep.

Tiger senior Garth Fealey won the 200 breaststroke to accompany his 100 breast win, and junior Steve Flemming took first in the 200 backstroke to help keep the Tigers (7-zip) unbeaten this season.

Harvard won the first two events of the day with the team of David Cromwell, Rassan Grant, Leif Drake and Kemi George taking gold in the 200 medley relay (1:30.39). Harvard co-captain Dan Shevchik led a 1-2-3 Crimson finish in the 400 IM with a 3:56.39 as John Cole (3:57.38) and Alexander Siroky (3:58.92) touched second and third.

On the meet's opening day, Cole won the 200-1650 frees to greatly aid the Crimson cause. Teammate Shevchik, defending league 400 IM champ, was a finalist at NCAAs last year (pr 3:46.17). His time is the Harvard and EISL standard.

Cole got his third victory of the meet a bit later when he took first in the 500 freestyle (4:25.70). Similar to his mile pr, he's Crimson and EISL record-holder in this race too with his 4:16.91 from last season's national collegiate championship meet at Athens, where he was a finalist.

Harvard's Danil Ribalko narrowly edged out Kent DeMond 309-308.70 to win the 3M diving event.

The foursome of Kemi George, Mark Kneply, Andrew Krna and Leif Drake finished the 400 freestyle relay in a time of 3:00.66, just shy of Princeton's 2:59.61 to dash any Crimson hopes of an upset victory.

Harvard will be back in action Saturday when it hosts Cornell and Dartmouth in Blodgett Pool at 12 p.m. Princeton will be home to Navy that same day.