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This past weekend was the last major weekend in Division III swimming that teams had duel meets as we close out January and go straight into February. The conference meets are just around the corner and NCAA’s are seven weeks away, so teams are closing out their last bit of duel meets before they start to rest for conference and NCAA’s.
One of the big highlights of the weekend came from Massachusetts as #4 MIT men defeated Division I Boston College. This is the second Division I team that the MIT men have defeated after they defeated Ivy League Cornell in the fall. MIT has been consistently one of the best teams in Division III all year as they are just outside the top three cluster of Kenyon, Emory and Denison that have stood high above everyone else this year. But MIT is showing signs of possibly passing Emory at the NCAA Championships, if everyone is on point.
They have Bouke Edskes, who was rated as one of the best swimmers in Division III going into this season. He has been a little underwhelming this year but he did have a huge drop at NCAA’s last year to almost steal the 200 fly title. He has been a 1:48 this year and he was only a 1:49 at conference last season before dropping a 1:45 at NCAA’s.
They were without sophomore sprinter Gabe Schneider on Friday but have gotten some good swims out of senior Joshua Tomazin in his place. Tomazin has been consistently right at where he was at this point a year ago where he finished as an All-American in the 50. MIT has also had solid depth in the freestyle events with junior Josh Graves and the emergence of freshman Kevin Fang. MIT is a young team and has been built for long term success in the future and this core group of underclassmen and non-seniors could rise MIT to a top three finish nationally in the coming years after they were eighth last year.
The MIT women dropped a 162-137 decision to Boston College on Friday as well. They are ranked at #8 nationally and are looking to get back to the top five after they were fifth at NCAA’s a year ago. Freshman Kailey Allen is the number one swimmer in Division III so far in the 200 fly with her 2:00.66 from the MIT Invitational. She has been going times in duel meets that are faster than what she went at Speedo Sectionals last year so Allen will be tough to beat if she is on her full game heading towards NCAA’s. Her time mid-season would have finished second last year at NCAA’s behind Williams’ Megan Pierce who has graduated.
Senior breaststroker Jessica Chen has been another girl that has stepped up big for MIT this year as she is fifth nationally in both breaststroke events and swam solid times on Friday (1:05.38, 2:22.08). This means that MIT’s relays will be solid this season with Chen and Allen in the middle legs, although Hannah Mahaffey swam the butterfly leg at their mid-season invite in the 400. Allen swam the butterfly leg in the 200 at the same meet the next day. Kayla Holman and Lilia Staszel swam the backstroke and freestyle legs on their medley relays and will be looking to swim big at the NCAA’s. Katherine Pan swam the backstroke leg on the 200 medley relay against BC on Friday.
The MIT women, like the men, are a young team with only two seniors on the roster. Chen and Mary Thielking are the only swimmers on the team that won’t return next year so MIT is a team built for next year.
Staying in the top ten, #8 Wash U men defeated unranked Wabash 172-116. Wash U was sixth last year, ahead of MIT. They have a few players that could contend for individual national titles like Seth Ritter in the distance events, Brandon Lum in the 200 fly and Kevin Van Cleave in the 200 IM. Van Cleave won the 200 IM against Wabash (1:54.05) and Lum swam off events in the 100 and 200 back (53.65, 1:58.21) and Ritter did not make the trip.
The Wash U women lost to Division I Illinois State in the women only meet since Wabash is male only school and Illinois State is a women’s only program. Wash U lost decisively 214-84 to the Redbirds.
Kenyon also lost to Division I Cincinnati and Emory lost to Division I Georgia Tech in the battle of Atlanta. (#14/24) Rowan also swept (#16/NR) TCNJ, and (#6/5) NYU swept Bridgeport.
#16 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps also defeated unranked Loyola Marymount in a west coast battle. Claire Beacon-Brenes won both breaststroke events with 1:04.85 and 2:21.91 for season bests. CMS did not swim at a mid-season rest meet so they have yet to put on suits so they will sneak up on some teams next month when they start to get some rest and put on suits.
Another familiar name won an event with Natalia Orbach-Mandel winning the 50 (24.25) and 100 free (53.22). She is the younger sister of Kenyon freestyler Hannah Orbach-Mandel who is a national title contender in a few events.
(#7/9) Chicago swept (#18/NR) DePauw as two of the best breaststrokers in the nation went head to head. Sam McManus of DePauw (55.24) got the upper hand over Chicago’s Reona Yamaguchi (57.41) on Saturday. Those two currently sit first and second in the nation in the event with McManus leading the way with a 54.31 to Yamaguchi’s 54.98. McManus also leads the nation in the 200 and swam a 2:04.74 to Yamaguchi’s 2:09.54.
The men’s breaststroke events are wide open this year after the graduation of USA National Team member Andrew Wilson of Emory and McManus looks to be next in line to grab the coveted breaststroke title.