2022 Big East Women’s Championships: Villanova Women Win Ninth Straight

Photo Courtesy: Villanova Athletics

2022 Big East Women’s Championships: Villanova Women Win Ninth Straight

Villanova got a run for its money in the 2022 Big East Women’s Championships, but the Wildcats steadily pushed their way to a ninth straight Big East title. Villanova scored 1,498 points, ahead at just about every stage of the University of Connecticut, which finished with 1,422.5.

Kelly Montesi of Villanova was the women’s swimmer of the meet for the second time in her career.

2022 Big East Women’s Championships

Team Scores

Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 39                     
  1. Villanova University             1498   2. University of Connecticut      1422.5
  3. Xavier University                1116   4. Georgetown University            1104
  5. Seton Hall University             894   6. Butler University               459.5
  7. Providence College                437

Individual Honors

  • Most Outstanding Women’s Swimmer: Kelly Montesi, Villanova
  • Women’s Coach Staff of the Year: Rick Simpson, Villanova
  • Most Outstanding Women’s Diver: Julia Pioso, Connecticut
  • Women’s Diving Coach of the Year: Josh Arndt, Connecticut

Villanova appeared poised to run away with the meet after Day 2, winning all four swimming events and taking seven of the nine podium positions. Already they’d built a lead of 152 points, but UConn didn’t relent.

By the final day, the biggest question for Villanova might have been which of its swimmers would earn Swimmer of the Meet. The nod went to Kelly Montesi, but Milly Routledge had quite the case, too.

Montesi’s edge came on the historical side, downing the only meet record of the 2022 Big East Championships, men or women. Her time of 1:53.25 in the 200 backstroke took down a pre-realignment record held by Kelly Ryan of Notre Dame from 2013. Montesi also won the 200 individual medley – in 1:59.24, just .04 off her program record – and the 400 IM in an NCAA B cut of 4:11.84, for her fourth straight crown in the event.

The senior got a run for her money by Routledge, the fifth-year senior who took her tally of individual Big East titles to eight. She matched her 2020 meet feat of the 50-100-200 freestyle triple.

The 50 free was a 1-2-3 finish for Nova, Routledge winning in 22.81 and followed by Abbey Berloco and Perri Stahl. Routledge won the 200 free in 1:48.04 and the 100 free in 50.00, capturing both for the third time each in her career.

Routledge and Montesi were on four winning relays each, Routledge anchoring three times and Montesi leading off the two victorious medley relays and the 800 free. Both swimmers have 24 total Big East championships – eight individual and 16 relay for Routledge; 11 individual and 13 relay for Montesi.

They weren’t along in the Wildcats’ roll to the title. Nicole Welch won the mile and was third in the 200 free. Berloco was second in the 50 and 100 free, swimming on four relays. Elizabeth Bailey won the 200 butterfly after finishing third in the 100 fly. Kaitlin Gravell was third in both IMs, Stahl was third in the 100 breaststroke and Audrey Pastorek took home two backstroke bronzes.

UConn did its damage in diving and breaststroke. It went 1-2 in the latter two events, Katelyn Walsh winning the 100 ahead of Angela Gambardella and then the duo flipping places for the 200. The Huskies’ divers started strong, with Julia Pioso (547.40 points) winning the 3-meter event ahead of teammate Analaura Faoro. On 1-meter, they finished in the same order and added Elisabeth Katz in third.

Kayla Mendonca won a chaotic 100 back, in which all eight finalists were clustered within .87 seconds in prelims and .77 in the final, to contribute to UConn’s Day 2 surge. She was second to Montesi in the 200 back. Niamh Hofland was second in the 500 free and third in the mile. Grace Ali finished second in the 200 fly.

Freshman Genevieve Youngman got Georgetown its only win, in 53.62 in the 100 fly, ahead of Xavier’s Erin Ritz. The Hoyas’ Erin Hood was second in the 400 IM and third in the 200 breast.

Ritz joined teammate Kali Fischer (200 free), 200 IM) as a silver medalist.

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