Villanova Women, Xavier Men Defend Big East Championships

Villanova women's swimming; Photo Courtesy: Big East Athletics

Villanova’s women’s swimming team won the Big East Championship for the eighth consecutive year, and the Xavier men claimed a third straight title at the meet that concluded Saturday night.

Villanova pulled away on the final night, opening up a 68-point margin for the title. Xavier had long since put the men’s race to bed, its cushion over Villanova stretching to nearly 200 points.

Big East Championships Team Scores

Women’s scores

  1. Villanova 906.5
  2. UConn 838
  3. Xavier 535
  4. Seton Hall 505.5
  5. Providence 214
  6. Butler 202

Men’s scores

  1. Xavier 862.5
  2. Villanova 685.5
  3. Seton Hall 645
  4. Providence 461.5
  5. UConn 93.5

Villanova finished the meet with an emphatic performance from the women, led by Kelly Montesi. Voted Most Outstanding Women’s Swimmer, Montesi won the 200 butterfly in 1:58.94, her third individual event win of the meet. She capped the Big East Championships by leading off the victorious 400 freestyle relay, her fourth winning relay for a perfect 7-for-7 championships. Montesi split 50.42, tied for second-fastest of the race with teammate Abbey Berloco. They joined Alexis Elkovitch and Millicent Routledge won in 3:22.21, more than three seconds up on Seton Hall.

Villanova won four of the women’s events. Routledge earned her second individual win of the meet by winning the 100 free in 50.25, part of a dominant 1-2-3 to punctuate the championship. Berloco was second and Elkovitch tied for third with Seton Hall’s Natalie Heim. Audrey Pastorek got to the wall first in the 200 backstroke in 1:59.24, seven tenths up on 100 back champ Kayla Mendonca of UConn.

UConn won the other two women’s events on Night 4. Niamh Hofland doubled up on her 500 free title by winning the mile in 16:26.97, her margin of victory north of 24 seconds. (Villanova, led by Nicole Welch, went 2-3-4.) UConn’s Angela Gambardella paced a 1-2 UConn finish in the 200 breaststroke in 2:14.49, .54 ahead of teammate Katelyn Walsh. (Villanova went 3-4-5-7 to negate any points edge.)


Xavier men’s swimming; Photo Courtesy: Big East Athletics

On the men’s side, Xavier’s freestyle depth took center stage again. Andrew Martin completed his dominance of the distance events, augmenting his 200 and 500 titles by winning the 1,650 in 15:26.91, jumping out to the early lead controlling the field. On the sprint side, 50 free champ Christian Thomas added the 100 free crown in 44.38.

Where the two converged, on the 400 free relay, the opposition had little chance. Teaming with Ethan Wing and Alexander Sironen, the Musketeers went 2:57.96, besting Seton Hall by 1.5 seconds. Martin, the winner of three individual events and three relays, was the Most Outstanding Men’s Swimmer of the Big East Championships.

Sironen won the 200 back in 1:47.17 with teammate Benjamin Quon third. Cameron Weese was third in the 200 breast. Brett Wilson took third in the mile.

Villanova’s lone victory of the final day came in the 200 breast, with Richard Nolan winning his second event in a time of 2:00.26. Teammate Francis Prikasky jumped from fifth in prelims to second in finals. Jake McIntyre was second in the mile in 15:31.58.

Seton Hall made a fervent push for second but had too much ground to cover. Justin Oosterwyk finished second in the 200 fly, .01 behind Providence College’s Justin Viotto (1:48.23) in the best race of the day. Seton Hall’s Ross Pantano was second in the 100 back. Ben Laclair took second in the 100 free in 44.59, .01 ahead of teammate Thomas Minar among four Pirates in the final heat. Minar, Gideon Langenbusch, Liam Cosgrove and Laclair were second in the 400 free relay, Laclair with the quickest split of the race in 43.96.

Big East Championships Awards

  • Most Outstanding Women’s Swimmer: Kelly Montesi, Villanova
  • Most Outstanding Men’s Swimmer: Andrew Martin, Xavier
  • Women’s Coaching Staff of the Year: Rick Simpson, Villanova
  • Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year: John O’Neill, Providence
  • Most Outstanding Women’s Diver: Elizabeth Drab, UConn
  • Most Outstanding Men’s Diver: Michael Ackert, Villanova
  • Women’s Diving Coach of the Year: Joshua Arndt, UConn
  • Men’s Diving Coach of the Year: Todd Michael, Villanova
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