The West Virginia University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams added three bronze medals and one silver to their medal count on Friday, at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship, held at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park in Morgantown.
Senior Morgan Bullock opened Friday’s finals session with a third-place finish in the women’s 100 butterfly A final, earning her first top-three finish of the week. Sophomore Fausto Huerta also earned a bronze in the men’s 100 breaststroke, followed by freshman Hunter Armstrong’s bronze in the 100 backstroke. The men’s 200 freestyle relay team, comprised of juniors Ryen Van Wyk, Christopher O’Shea and David Dixon and senior Sam Neaveill, closed the night by securing WVU’s second silver medal of the week.
In all, the Mountaineers’ medal count moves to two silver and four bronze following the third day of Big 12 action.
“Tonight was by far our best session of the week,” WVU coach Vic Riggs said. “We were a little off this morning, but we regrouped, and the teams responded very well tonight. The divers had another strong day, and we are in a great battle for third place in the women’s team race. We need to take tonight’s momentum and carry that into tomorrow’s prelims.”
The night opened with Bullock’s bronze-medal finish in the 100 fly, as the senior touched the wall in 53.92 to grab third place. Freshman Emily Haimes was the first to touch the pads in the 100 fly consolation final, posting a time of 55.33. Classmate Harna Minezawa followed in fourth (56.15) and junior Ally VanNetta claimed seventh to finish 15th overall (56.34).
In the men’s event, Dixon led the way in sixth, notching a time of 46.98. Junior Angelo Russo claimed seventh (47.64), and senior Trayton Saladin placed eighth (47.87). In the B final, WVU claimed the top two spots, as O’Shea won the heat with a time of 47.73, and senior Jack Frazier finished second (48.42). Neaveill and senior Jack Portmann also competed in the consolation final, placing fifth (49.49) and sixth (49.63), respectively.
The 400 individual medley races proved exciting for the Mountaineers, as senior Alex Pampalone made a push in the final 50 yards to finish in fourth place with a time of 4:18.81. Additionally, in the B final, junior Kayla Gagnon claimed fourth (4:28.23), and freshman Sarah Young finished sixth (4:31.93).
In the men’s 400 IM, sophomore Josh Harlan and junior Philip Kay represented WVU in the championship final, placing fourth (3:52.71) and fifth (3:54.26), respectively. In the consolation final, freshmen Michael Sandner and Jonathan Bennett notched first (3:58.33) and third (4:01.52).
Next came the 400 freestyle, where junior Giselle Gursoy (fourth – 1:50.63) and sophomore Reka Kovacs (seventh – 1:51.35) competed in the B final, and junior Luisa Winkler (1:51.06) appeared in the C final. For the men, junior Max Gustafson took seventh overall in the A final (1:39.47), and seniors Ryan Kelly and Brandon Christian notched second (1:40.64) and third (1:40.75) in the B final.
In the women’s 100 breaststroke, a pair of freshmen competed in the B final, as Mathilde Kaelbel and Tatum Peyerl placed fifth (1:04.65) and sixth (1:04.67), respectively. Huerta’s bronze medal in the men’s event was next, as he touched the wall in 53.63 to claim third. Senior Jack Portmann followed in fifth with a time of 54.88, while junior Ben Brooks took seventh (56.47)
The 100 backstroke took place just before the diving break, as VanNetta represented the ladies in the B final, finishing in 55.33 for fourth place and 12th overall. West Virginia’s impressive finish in the men’s event came next, as the Mountaineers claimed four of the top eight spots. Armstrong claimed the bronze in 46.22, followed by Russo in fourth (47.80), Saladin in fifth (48.31) and Van Wyk in eighth (49.45).
In the diving well, the men and women competed in the 3-meter springboard competition. Freshman Holly Darling again represented WVU in the finals, finishing eighth overall with a score of 272.70. A trio of Mountaineers competed in the consolation final, as sophomore Camille Burt placed second (294.95), classmate Emma Longley claimed seventh (225.80) and junior Callie Smith followed in eighth (214.15).
For the men, a three of Mountaineers competed in the finals, as sophomore Nick Cover led the way in sixth place after tallying 351.50 points in the finals. Fellow sophomore PJ Lenz finished seventh (335.40), while redshirt sophomore Jacob Cardinal-Tremblay took eighth place (310.85).
“Today was a marathon of diving, but I’m really proud of the divers for their efforts tonight,” diving coach Michael Grapner said. “Holly was incredible in the prelims and had an outstanding day for the women. The men’s event was a lot of fun tonight. Nick Cover put everything together in the finals. He has been working hard on springboard, and tonight his hard work paid off.”
The third night of competition concluded with the 200 freestyle relay. The ladies competed first, as Haimes, senior Julia Nilton, Bullock and sophomore Emma Bliss combined to place fourth after touching the wall in 1:31.77. The men’s team of Van Wyk, O’Shea, Neaveill and Dixon claimed the silver medal to close the night in the pool. The team notched a time of 1:19.76.
Entering the final day of competition, the women’s team sits in fourth place with 303 team points, just behind TCU in third (352). On the men’s side, the Mountaineers continue to hold steady in second place with 581 points. Texas strengthened its reign over the top of the leaderboards on Friday. The men sit in first with 712 team points, while the women have 764 points for first place.
The Mountaineers will conclude competition at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship on Saturday, Feb. 29, as action at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park is scheduled to begin with prelims at 10 a.m. ET, followed by finals at 6 p.m.