Princeton Hosts 2012 Ivy Men's Swim/Dive Champs; '12 Looks For 4th Straight
Not since the Class of 1992 has their been a group of Tiger seniors who left Princeton with both a diploma and a complete set of four Ivy League Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. But that is the opportunity that the Class of 2012 has earned, and an opportunity it will try to cash in on this week.
The 2012 Ivy League Championships will be held at DeNunzio Pool this Thursday-Saturday. Preliminary heats will begin each morning at 11, while the championship finals will begin at 6. Tickets are available at the door; an all-session pass is $30 and includes heat sheets, while single sessions are are $4 in the morning and $6 in the evening. All sales are cash only.
For those who can't make the championship weekend, the entire event will be streamed live online at GoPrincetonTigers.TV. You can also follow the live results by clicking on the link above.
Few who were at Blodgett Pool last year will forget Princeton's dramatic win in the 2011 Ivy Championships. After Harvard had swept the league regular season, the Tigers took a Day 1 lead and held on through a furious rally to win their third straight title by a total of 5.5 points. It was the closest final margin in the history of the championships.
That knowledge should keep Princeton on its toes for this meet, as the Crimson will bring another loaded roster down to Denunzio this weekend. The Tigers went undefeated this season, and while there are strong swimmers throughout the remaining six Ivy League schools, both Princeton and Harvard fill up the top lines in the pre-weekend psyche sheets.
Both Princeton and Harvard will be well represented in the sprint free events, though it is Tiger freshman Harrison Wagner who comes in with the league's best time in both the 50 (19.91) and the 100 (43.99). Wagner has the league's only sub-20 time in the 50, a feat he accomplished in Denunzio Pool at the Big Al Open, and he'll be looking for his first individual and Ivy League titles during the weekend.
Following Wagner is a host of speed, including seniors Matt LaMonaca and Michael Monovoukas, both of whom placed in the 50 free final in the 2011 championship meet. Monovoukas, one of the senior tri-captains, also took third in the 100 final, and both figure to be key pieces on the Princeton sprint relays. Both were on the 200 free relay that won the weekend's opening event and helped Princeton get out to a first-day lead in its championship win.
Senior Colin Cordes was a finalist in the 50 free last year and could be a dangerous scorer in the event, but he also comes into the weekend with the Ivy's best time in the 200 free (1:37.91). Freshman teammate David Paulk is right behind him at 1:38.09, while junior Will Lawley (1:38.91) and freshmen Conner Jager (1:38.91) and Michael Hauss (1:39.54) give Princeton five representatives in the top seven.
Sophomore Paul Nolle will play a huge role in the distance events, where Princeton has less depth than its sprint free events. Nolle has the league's best time in the 500 (4:24.82), the 1000 (9:12.39) and the 1650 (15:17.24). He figures to get tough competition from, among others, Dartmouth's 1000/1650 reigning champion Nejc Zupan and Harvard freshman Mike Guadiana.
Both Paulk and Lawley are threats to score in the 500, as each come into the weekend with top-five times in the event.
Princeton has considerable depth in the backstroke, and the Tigers hope to see multiple finalists in both the 100 and 200. In the shorter final, contested Friday, Tiger freshman Michael Strand comes in with the league's best time of 48.49. Junior Kaspar Raigla, the reigning Ivy League champion in the event, is third at 49.52, while freshman Connor Maher is fourth at 49.91.
Cordes is the two-time reigning Ivy champion in the 200 back, and his time of 1:46.70 is the best in the league heading into the weekend. Several teammates could pose a threat to his reign, though, including Maher, who is second with a time of 1:46.95. Sophomore Adam Lebovitz is third (1:47.98), while freshman Conner Jager (7th, 1:49.19), Raigla (8th, 1:50.62) and freshman Michael Strand (10th, 1:51.14) are all within the Top 10 and potential 'A' finalists.
During the 2009 championship finals, Penn freshman Brendan McHugh and Princeton freshman Jon Christensen battled for the title in both the 100 and 200 breast finals. McHugh took the 100, while Christensen won the 200. Ever since, those two have dueling it out; in six of their nine individual events at Ivies, the two have gone 1-2 in some order.
Those two could have two more breast finals in their future. Christensen has the league's second-best time (53.58/1:56.91) behind McHugh in both the 100 and 200. Tiger sophomore Daniel Hasler, who was ill last year and missed Ivies, has the fourth-best time in both events (55.93/2:01.12).
Princeton has several competitors in the fly events, including Raigla, who has the league's third-best 100 time (49.33), and freshman Michael Hauss, who is fourth in the 200 in 1:48.80. Freshmen Michael Strand and Oliver Bennett could also be factors, and Monovoukas took third in the 100 last year.
Both IM events figure to be very competitive. Harvard freshman Chuck Katis comes in with the best time in the 200, but the Christensen-McHugh duo is just behind Katis. Both Maher and Jager combine with Christensen to give Princeton three in the top five. Hasler has the league's best time in the 400 (3:54.47) by more than three seconds, while freshman Caleb Tuten is third in 3:58.23.
The last two Ivy League Championships Divers of the Meet, Princeton's Stevie Vines and Harvard's Michael Stanton, will both be competitors this weekend at Denunzio. While Princeton has good depth in the event, including junior Christopher Kelly, sophomore Mark O'Connell and freshman Michael Manhard, the field could be chasing Harvard freshman Michael Mosca, who swept both events at H-Y-P.