Kelly Montesi, Christian Thomas, Andrew Martin Double Up as Villanova, Xavier Lead Big Easts

2016 Big East Swimming and Diving Championship on Feb. 26, 2016 at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, New York.
Photo Courtesy: Villanova Athletics Media Relations

Villanova’s Kelly Montesi and the Xavier duo of Christian Thomas and Andrew Martin doubled up on individual wins on Night 3 of the Big East Championships, positioning both teams in the lead entering the final day.

The Villanova women hold a 41-point lead over Connecticut through three days. The Xavier men’s advantage is more authoritative, a cushion of 77 points on Villanova.

Big East Championships

Women’s scores

  1. Villanova 584
  2. Connecticut 543
  3. Xavier 369
  4. Seton Hall 39
  5. Providence 155
  6. Butler 148

Men’s scores

  1. Xavier 573
  2. Villanova 496
  3. Seton Hall 415
  4. Providence 335.5
  5. Connecticut 67.5

The Friday night session started with a battle of Day 2 champions in the 400 individual medley. Montesi, who’d won the 200 IM, and Niahm Hofland of UConn, winner of the 500 freestyle, squared off. Montesi left no doubt, taking the top seed in prelims by nearly four seconds and defending that margin in full in finals, a time of 4:11.98 to win. Hofland settled for second in 4:15.53, the only other sub-4:20 swimmer.

Villanova padded its total in the 200 free, a 1-2 finish led by Millicent Routledge and Nicole Welsh. Routledge controlled the field to win in 1:49.09. Welch got her hand to the wall in front of a crowd, her time of 1:50.15 edging top seed Clara Keiser of Xavier (1:50.20) and UConn’s Melissa Lowry (1:50.36). Villanova added points by adding fifth, sixth and seventh.

But UConn’s stroke depth allowed it to surge.

Linnea Anderson won the 100 butterfly in 54.29, ahead of teammate Charlotte Proceller with Grace Ali fourth. The 100 backstroke provided another 1-2, with Kayla Mendonca (55.11) and Caitlin Spencer. Katelyn Walsh defended her top seed in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.74 to hold off a horde of Villanova swimmers. The Wildcats went 2-3-5, led by Margaret Kleinsmith; UConn was 1-3-7.

No shock then that UConn took charge in the 400 medley relay. Mendonca, Walsh, Anderson and Lowry led wire-to-wire to clock in at 3:41.53. Villanova was second.

On the men’s side of the Big East Championships, Xavier’s stars stepped up again. Martin, winner of Thursday’s 500 free, doubled up with the 200 free crown, a time of 1:36.68, in front of runner-up Ben Laclair of Seton Hall by more than a second. Thomas, the 50 free champ, added gold in the 100 back in 48.48. That was a huge haul for the Musketeers, with Andrew Devine second and Benjamin Quon third. The 100 fly was similarly bountiful, with Joseph Mullen, Alexander Sironen and Roark Lundal sweeping spots two through four.

Xavier finished the session with a decisive win in the 400 medley relay, the team of Sironen, Lundal, Mullen and Thomas winning in 3:15.07, nearly three seconds clear of Seton Hall.

The other events were dispensed evenly. Villanova’s Richard Nolan made it two IM golds, taking the 400 in 3:52.21 by a full second over Providence’s Justin Viotto. Liam Cosgrove of Seton Hall won the 100 fly in 47.70. Providence got its name on the top line for the first time via Kevin Hood in the 100 breast, his time of 55.52 nipping Gennarino Conzemius of Seton Hall by a tenth thanks to a stronger second 50.

Villanova benefitted from having a pair of divers, with Michael Ackert winning the 1-meter diving with 551.05, less than 10 points ahead of UConn’s Justin Corres. It’s Ackert’s second title to complement the 3-meter win. Noah Clipman was third for Nova.