KINGS POINT, New York, February 16. THE United States Merchant Marine Academy men's team and The University of Scranton women's team each defended its respective titles and were crowned as team champions at the conclusion of the three-day Landmark Conference Swimming & Diving Championship Sunday evening in Kings Point, N.Y.
Along with dominating team scores that saw each team claim the title by at least 225 points, the championship teams also earned several individual honors. On the men's side USMMA's Erik Johnsen was recognized as the Swimmer of the Year, while his teammate Nicholas Halbach earned Diver of the Year honors for the second-straight season. USMMA Head Coach Sean Tedesco and his staff were honored as the Coaching Staff of the Year.
On the women's side Scranton reaped the rewards of its title as Erin O'Connor was picked as the Co-Swimmer of the Year, the second time in as many seasons she's received that honor, and freshman Carolyn Gillespie was named the Rookie of the Year. Goucher College's Britt Hogstrom shared Swimmer of the Year honors with O'Connor and USMMA's Catherine Horn was named the Diver of the Year. First-year Head Coach Paul DeAngelo of Scranton and his staff were named the Coaching Staff of the Year for helping the Royals to the team title.
Just as they did last season, both championship teams claimed leads after day one of competition and never relinquished it. USMMA finished with a total of 664 to claim the men's title, 225 points clear of the Scranton men's team. The Catholic University of America was third with 297 points, with Susquehanna University just 10 points back in fourth place. Goucher was fifth with 181 points and Drew University rounded out the competition with 103 points.
Scranton's win was even more decisive as the Royals piled up 667 points over three days. Susquehanna placed second on the women's side with 357 points, just 20 points ahead of third place Catholic. Goucher was fourth with 268, followed by Drew with 147, USMMA with 128 and Juniata College with 106.
USMMA helped its team score with four individual event wins on the final day, including the team's second NCAA Provisional qualifying time of the meet. Johnsen won his third event in as many days by swimming a time of 16:55.79 to win the 1,650 freestyle. Andrew Denning was first to the wall in a provisional qualifying time of 46.36 to win the 100 freestyle. Also earning wins were John Murphy with a mark of 1:56.21 in the 100 backstroke and Casey Wonner who won the 200 butterfly in 1:54.81.
David Hovey nabbed a win for Scranton on the day as he touched first in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:11.81. The Royals then closed the meet by winning the 400 freestyle relay with the group of Thomasz Chec, Joe Clifford, Paul Vignatti and Marc Dezii swimming a winning time of 3:14.41.
The individual award winners also had big days on the women's side. O'Connor won her third event of the competition by placing first in the 200 butterfly in a time of 2:14.50. Hogstrom also won for the third time as she was first in the 100 freestyle in a time of 54.82.
Scranton had one other individual win on the day with Jill McGowan swimming the 1,650 freestyle in 18:39.80 to claim the victory. The Royals then closed the day with Lauren Wieland, O'Connor, Lauren Hosko and Gillespie swimming 3:42.18 to win the 400 freestyle relay.
Catholic's Lisa Brooks was the only swimmer with two individual NCAA provisional times on the weekend as she won the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:24.39. Susquehanna's Christie Savard also notched an individual win as she bested the field in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:10.96
Several of the Landmark swimmers and divers will now move on to compete at the ECAC Championships and other last-chance meets in an effort to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships which will take place March 18-21.
The men's and women's Swimming & Diving Championships are the first two of six Landmark titles that will be crowned in the coming weeks. Both the Men's and Women's Basketball and Men's and Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships will be completed on Saturday February 28.
Special thanks to Landmark Conference for contributing this report.