Women’s swimming and diving first, men second at Wheaton Invitational

| Sports Reporter

The Washington University women’s swimming and diving teams finished first out of six teams at the Wheaton Invitational on Friday and Saturday, while the men’s team came in second.

The No. 15 women edged the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the final tally by three points, 834-831, while the No. 13 men scored 750 points, 167 behind Stevens Point.

“The meet…was different than other meets because we had Thanksgiving break before it, so we got some rest. It wasn’t just about competing, but it was also about going fast,” head coach Brad Shively said. “I thought we competed well. We did some videotaping and are going to go over a few things with the swimmers. We had a lot of really fast swims. It was really good for team unity and good to [see] the young swimmers doing so well.”

The women’s team finished first in seven events, second in four and third in six.

“The meet went really well,” freshman Sara Taege said. “The girls were defending champs from last year, but we ended up getting second. It was the first actual midseason meet where we rested for it. We’re really training for February, so this was just a checkpoint to see where everyone was.”

Taege was involved in four of the first-place finishes, with two individual victories. She won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:06.37, with sophomore Grace Murray finishing third in 5:06.95.

“We had [swum] it in the morning in prelims, and I had [swum] next to the same girl in finals and prelims,” Taege said. “In prelims I had just touched her out. We were all pretty even until the last little bit, and this other girl and I had just fallen behind while the pace was picking up. And the last 50 everyone just goes all out. I just gave it my all and just kicked as hard as I could and pushed myself.”

Taege also won the 400-yard individual medley in 4:33.68, making an NCAA B cut, with sophomore Meghan Lam finishing second in 4:42.17.

The Wash. U. women also won the 400-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard medley relay. Taege, freshman Jennifer Tartavull, and sophomores Chi Pham and Allison Siegel won the freestyle relay in 3:33.29. Pham, Murray, Tartavull and senior Catherine Rafferty-Millett finished the 400-yard medley in 3:59.63.

Pham played an important role in both victories, twice giving the Bears the lead for good. She also won individual races, the 100-yard backstroke (57.95 for a B cut) and the 200-yard individual medley (2:07.84 for a B cut).

Rafferty-Millett finished third in the 200 individual medley in 2:12.24.

“It was good to see the young swimmers, because we didn’t know how good they were. The upperclassmen were great leaders,” Shively said. “They showed the young swimmers how to compete. The relays went a lot faster than I thought. There was good spirit in the team. We did a good job finishing races.”

The men’s team finished first in six events, second in five and third in four.

Freshman Zane Turpin took first place and a spot in the Wash. U. record book, cruising in at 15:53.88 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, a time good enough for an NCAA B cut. Senior Chris Valach came in second at 16:18.20.

Turpin also won the 400-yard individual medley and 200-yard butterfly, with times of 4:00.60 and 1:54.15 respectively. His medley time was good enough for a B cut.

Valach placed in four races, the most among the Wash. U. men. In addition to his second-place 1,650-yard freestyle finish, he came in second to Turpin in the 200-yard butterfly, only .29 seconds behind. Valach’s other individual win came in the 500-yard freestyle, during which he came from behind in the last 150 yards to win.

“I just sped up at the end and had enough to win,” he said. “It’s a race strategy to wait until the end.”

Valach was part of the 800-yard freestyle relay team that came in first, along with sophomore Jason Wan, freshman Matt Nutter and junior Mark Minowitz. They finished in 6:55.44.

Minowitz also captured the 200-yard freestyle in 1:42.94 with Nutter finishing third in 1:44.19.

The swimming and diving teams now take some time off for winter break. The men return to action on Jan. 11 at Wabash College, while both teams will take part in the Washington University Invitational hosted in the I.E. Millstone Pool of the Athletic Complex on Jan. 13 and 14.

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