The Colonials had three reasons to enter the pool against George Mason with a little extra edge Saturday: It was their last dual meet of the regular season, they were coming off an impressive victory over Georgetown and it was Senior Day for a few of GW’s athletes.
Cheering fans and families filled the Smith Center natatorium prior to the meet as the eight senior males: Alex Etz, Stephan Franke, Duncan Galler, Niklas Glensek, Phillip Graeter, Stephen Nelson, Zach Peart and Luke Quimby, were honored for their contribution and dedication at their last regular season meet of their college careers.
But even with all of the energy and momentum from a win against the Hoyas and the seniors’ incessant drive to pull for firsts in the pool, the men’s team fell to the Patriots 159-101, with the women’s team falling short by a mere four points, 133-129.
“We are a smaller team on both men’s and women’s [sides] than George Mason, so we didn’t have the numbers to compete with them right now, especially with a few swimmers battling sickness,” head coach Dan Rhinehart said. “But they all swam really well. We set ourselves up in a good position for A-10’s and we had some fast swims.”
The focus for both the men’s and women’s squads this meet was to attack their events aggressively and set the tone for the upcoming league competition. The women’s squad swept the top three spots in a total of four events, demonstrating the Colonials’ ability to dominate in the pool.
The men’s team also showed it knew how to compete, with junior Jake Mortensen claming first in the 100 backstroke with an impressive 52.89 and sophomore Garret Cottingham touching the wall first in the 100 breaststroke in 58.41 seconds.
“We wanted to take some of the momentum we had at Georgetown and keep it going, and we wanted this meet to set us up for our ultimate goal of success at A-10’s,” Rhinehart said. “We focused on putting our best group up there and put them in a position to give us 100 percent and everything they got. For us, the journey to the end is more important than the little stepping-stones along the way.”
The first half of the meet was a tight competition as the Colonials and the Patriots claimed victories in back-to-back events.
Junior Caroline Meyers’ first place in the 1000 freestyle with a time of 10:28.03 seconds, a first by freshman Lauren Steagall in 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.09 seconds and a win in the 200 medley relay were just a few of the ways the Colonials stayed with the Patriots. GW was only down by one point before the first break.
“We had a lot of good swims the first half. I saw a lot of focus and determination. I wanted to keep it going during the second half and let it roll,” Rhinehart said.
The men continually fought to stay beside the Patriots in the second half with Cottingham clinching second in 200 breaststroke and freshmen Jordan Sharples and Oliver Keegan finishing third in the 500 freestyle and 100 butterfly, respectively.
Coming into the individual medleys and freestyle relays, the team laid everything on the line, pushing for a victory. Sophomore Janica Lee and Philip Graeter both placed in the 200 individual medley for GW.
For the free relays, juniors Sydney Saunders, Melissa Fernandez, freshman Kally Vanderbilt and senior Sloan Saunders clinched second in 1:39.16 seconds, and Mortensen, Cottingham, Keegan and senior Luke Quimby finished first for the men’s with a time of 1:35.81. Though the outings weren’t enough to clinch a win for the Colonials, their head coach was pleased with his team’s aggressive performance.
“We put our best relays up there, and went after it. You have to have faith in your team and their performance,” Rhinehart said.
This article was updated Jan. 28, 2013 to reflect the following:
The headline to this article incorrectly stated that the meet was against Georgetown. The Colonials actually faced George Mason. We regret this error.
This article appeared in the January 28, 2013 issue of the Hatchet.