Spring break sports roundup
While many Washington University students hit the beach or headed home for spring break, the school’s athletic programs didn’t miss a beat. And though the big news came from the indoor national championship for the women’s track and field team, seven other programs were in action over break, including four other teams who made their own respective runs at NCAA titles. Here is a brief recap of what went on in the world of Wash. U. sports when you were relaxing in the sand or shoveling snow on an east coast driveway.
Swimming and diving
The women’s track team was not the only national champion from Wash. U. this past break, as sophomore Brandon Lum also took home an individual national title in the 200-yard butterfly. Lum set a school record in the preliminary rounds with a time of 1:46.33, but shattered that time in the finals, swimming a 1:44.56—a new NCAA Division III record.
Overall, it was a strong week for the Bears at the NCAA championships in Shenandoah, Texas. Both the men’s and women’s teams finished sixth overall at the meet, which saw 50 schools compete. This was the third straight year that both Wash. U. teams have finished in the top 10 at the national championships and the sixth time period in program history. In addition to Lum’s national championship, several Bears posted top finishes and earned spots on the podium, including junior Niamh O’Grady’s second-place finish in the women’s 100-yard freestyle and senior Michael Lagieski’s third-place finish in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke. In addition, the men’s 200-yard medley relay team, composed of Lagieski, freshman Peyton Wilson, sophomore Andrew Pek and junior Ross Brown, broke a school record on the way to third place, a podium spot matched by the women’s 800-yard freestyle relay team of O’Grady, junior Nicole Zanolli, senior MariMac Collins and sophomore Lauren Sapp. The same group of swimmers also finished third in the 400-yard freestyle relay. In total, 15 Bears swam to All-American honors at the meet including Lagieski, who earned All-American honors in five events and set school records in four of them, and Zanolli, who equaled Lagieski’s tally of five All-American finishes.
The women’s basketball team did not have to travel for its spring break competition, as the Bears stayed on campus to host the second weekend of NCAA tournament games. After beating St. Norbert College and Wheaton College in the first two rounds of tournament play, Wash. U. downed No. 13 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 68-56 in the Sweet 16 on Friday, March 10.
The win over Oshkosh set up a heavyweight bout in the national quarterfinal against No. 4 Tufts University. It would prove to be a defensive battle, particularly in the second quarter, when the two teams combined for 11 total points.
Games like these are the Jumbos’ bread and butter. The Tufts defense stifled the Wash. U. offense throughout the game, particularly from range, where the Bears connected on just two three pointers all night.
While the two teams duked it out in the first half, from the third quarter on, Tufts kept the Bears at arms length. The Jumbos built their lead up to double digits by the the end of the third quarter before settling in for the 57-43 win. Sophomore forward Madeline Homoly was kept especially quiet in the loss, making just two of her 16 shots from the field. The Bears as a whole connected on just 30 percent of attempts from the field as their season ended in the national quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Wash. U.’s baseball team flew down south toward warm weather in Florida, where it kicked off its break with a narrow 5-4 loss to Rutgers University-Camden.
The Bears bounced back the next day with a 10-8 victory over the College of St. Scholastica. Senior Christian Santos continued his hot start to the season, hitting four of five from behind the plate. With St. Scholastica threatening to rally from a nine-run deficit, senior closer Matt Clohisy came in for a four-out save, securing the win for the Bears.
The Bears next notched a more comfortable win against Centenary University. Sophomore pitcher Zack Kotin threw seven hitless innings before being replaced by senior Jake Mintz in the eighth. The bid for a combined no-hitter was spoiled by a single in the top of the ninth inning, but Wash. U. nonetheless coasted to a straightforward 5-0 win.
The Bears dropped their next matchup, a 4-1 loss to Wheaton College. Despite nine hits in the game, the Wash. U. offense failed to generate runs, with the Bears only scoring on a bases loaded single by freshman John Ostrander.
The baseball team finished its spring break slate with a pair of wins. First, the Bears rediscovered their offensive groove, scoring seven runs to propel them past then-ranked No. 24 Suffolk University. The Bears also got solid pitching from seniors Brad Margolin and Clohisy, who combined for 15 strikeouts. The Bears ended their stay in the Sunshine State in dominant fashion with an 11-0 win over Mount St. Joseph University, a game that was called after seven innings. Wash. U.’s 4-2 performance over the trip brings its overall record to 9-5, and the Bears will host a three-game series against Illinois Wesleyan University next.
Just like baseball, the Wash. U. softball team traveled to Florida for a slate of spring break games. The Bears began the trip with a Monday doubleheader against Lake Forest College followed by a game against Western Connecticut State University. Wash. U. was frustrated against Lake Forest and only managed two hits in a 2-0 loss. The Bears, however, bounced back in a big way against Western Connecticut. Junior Anna McKee only allowed two hits in a shutout win, striking out a career-high nine batters. The Bears’ offense also rebounded, exploding for 12 runs and ending the game after five innings.
The offensive explosion against Western Connecticut was a sign of things to come for the Bears. In the next game, against Emory and Henry College, the Bears totaled 22 hits in a 15-5 win. Senior Janet Taylor had three of those hits, including the 100th RBI of her career.
The next day was another day of blowout victories and milestones for the Bears. A 13-3 victory in the first game of the day against Smith College saw head coach Michelle Venturella reach the 200-win mark for her collegiate coaching career. The win was just her fifth as Wash. U.’s coach, after obtaining a 195-205 record at the University of Chicago. The Bears capped off the day with another comfortable win, a 9-1 five-inning coast over Amherst College.
The softball team’s stay in Florida ended on a sour note, with a 5-4 loss to the University of New England. The Bears made four errors in the game and surrendered three unearned runs. The Bears, now 8-4, will host the Wash. U. invitational next against Coe College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Wartburg College and Webster University.
The women’s tennis team traveled out to California to face several highly ranked teams, starting the week out by sweeping Trinity College, the only unranked opponent it would play, 9-0. Wash. U. then faced its first significant test of the weekend, a matchup against No. 7 Amherst. The No. 11 Bears pulled off the upset with a 5-4 victory. Wash. U. pulled ahead 2-1 after doubles, before wins from senior Rebecca Ho, sophomore Brigitte Hodge and sophomore Lisa Chionis secured the win.
The Bears fell to No. 8 Wesleyan University the next day, 7-2. Ho, the fourth-ranked singles player in the nation, saw her nine-match singles winning streak snapped during the loss.
Wash. U. ended the trip with another loss—this time to third-ranked Bowdoin College. Ho was the only player to notch a victory for the Bears, whose 8-1 loss drops their overall record to 5-6. Wash. U. travels to No. 30 DePauw University this weekend, its 10th ranked match in 12 games to start the season.
Men’s tennis also traveled to the Golden State over spring break, participating in the 10th annual Stag-Hen Invitational hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. The No. 5 Bears started the tournament off with a 6-3 win over No. 24 Skidmore College. After taking a 2-1 lead after doubles, Wash. U. won four of the six singles matches, including a notable 6-1, 6-3 win by junior Johnny Wu over Kai Yuen Lueng, the number-five singles player in the nation.
Later that day, the Bears swept doubles play, only to drop all six singles matches in a 6-3 loss to No. 6 CMS. Wash. U. capped off the tournament with a close-fought 5-4 victory over No. 9 Pomona-Pitzer. The win was the Bears’ fifth against ranked teams this season.
Before returning to St. Louis, Wash. U. played one last game against Division II No. 13 Azusa Pacific University and notched another 5-4 victory. The Bears’ 2-1 advantage after doubles meant that the even split in singles gave Wash. U. the win, improving the Red and Green’s record to 6-3.
The Bears will next travel to Crawfordsville, Ind., where they will play Wabash College and No. 35 DePauw.