Six National Qualifiers Lead Wabash's 3rd Place Finish
Howard W. Hewitt - Canton, Ohio - It could have been the last relay and should have been the first, but Wabash College Little Giant swimmers scored 998 points en route to a third-place finish in the North Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming and Diving Championships here Saturday night.
Kenyon College, which has won the past 27 straight national titles, held off a huge challenge from Denison in both the mens' and womens' competition. For detailed times and results click here.
One of Coach Peter Casares' championship goals was to break the 1,000-point barrier. On the first night of competition in the first event, the Wabash 200 free relay team swam to a third-place finish worth 54 points but was later disqualified for a false start. Saturday night's last event was the 400 free relay but the Little Giants were just touched out at the end.
But Coach Peter Casares called the 998 the 'perfect score.' It provides great incentive for his heralded freshmen and sophomore classes to work harder now that they understand the competition. And there were a number of "B" qualifying cuts for the National Championships next month.
The Little Giants opened Saturday's finals with three swimmers in the final eight of the 200 backstroke. Adam Petro finished fifth with Tony Caldwell claiming sixth and Pat Laughlin scoring in eighth. Peter Hewitt had a 16th place finish.
Jordon Blackwell, Phillip Towne, Blaine Cooper-Surma, Kyle Weaver, and Nick Rockefeller all scored in the 100 Free. Brent Graham, Robert Dent, and Paul Wilson were 14-16 in the 200 breaststroke.
Adam Petro had a fifth place swim in the 200 butterfly. Robert Fozkos had one of the night's strongest swims, claiming 11th place with a 1:59.26 - which was nearly four seconds off his morning qualifying time.
Rob Fenoglio helped the team move up by climbing from 8th place to 6th in the Saturday night finals of the 1-meter diving.
The last relay was touched out at the wall but managed a fourth behind Fozkos, Blackwell, Cooper-Surma, and Craig Vetor.
Three Wabash swimmers placed in the top 12 of the 1,650 freestyle. Elijah Sanders swam a 16:40 for seventh place. Vetor finished 9th and Paul Wilson 10th.
Casares has been writing about the meet on his own blog, Lanelines, for the past three days. Also look for more photos and wrap-up information on the Wabash website Monday.
In photos: Above right, Pete Hewitt in the backstroke. On homepage: Fozkos has a strong butterfly effort.