Springfield Holds Off MIT to Claim Eighth Consecutive NEWMAC Title
Feb. 25, 2008
WELLESLEY, Mass. - With MIT and Springfield College separated by a mere 4.5 points heading into the final event of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on Sunday night, both teams knew at the start of the 400-yard freestyle relay that a first-place finish would almost guarantee victory. 3:34.81 seconds later, Springfield's Moira Price touched the wall first, beating out MIT's top team by just over two seconds and giving the Pride its eighth consecutive NEWMAC title.
Springfield closed the Championships with 707.5 points, clipping the Engineers, who scored 701 points over the course of the weekend, by the slimmest of margins. It's the ninth straight year that the Cardinal and Gray has occupied the runner-up position at the conference championships.
Wheaton College made a run for the title as well, but ultimately finished third with a score of 645. Wellesley College, which hosted the event in its Chandler Pool, placed fourth with 487.5 points, followed by Coast Guard (343), Smith College (283), Babson College (221), Clark University (184), Mount Holyoke College (169) and WPI (134).
Junior Nicole O'Keeffe opened the final day of competition in fine fashion for MIT, notching First Team All-Conference honors in the 1,650-yard freestyle by finishing with an NCAA "B" cut time of 17:41.52. The Los Angeles, Calif., native closed the weekend with two First Team and three Second Team accolades.
Freshman Lauren Hernley followed with an eighth-place showing in the 200-yard backstroke (2:19.71), before fellow rookie Amy Jacobi won the 100-yard freestyle by touching the wall first at 53.15, earning yet another NCAA "B" cut. Like her teammate O'Keeffe, Jacobi racked up two First Team and three Second Team All-Conference honors over the course of the weekend.
Next up was the 200-yard breaststroke, in which Ellie Souganidis provided Tech's top finish by placing sixth in a time of 2:34.46. Thanks in part to other point-scoring performances from Ariadne Smith, Abby Clark, Caroline Lowenthal, Katy Sorensen and Kaidi Wang, the Engineers overtook the Pride to slip into first-place by 10.5 points following the event.
MIT increased its lead to a full 22.5 points following the 200-yard butterfly, as Jen Chao (2:14.96, fourth-place), Kristen Felch (2:18.73, sixth-place) and Annika Larsson (2:24.67, eighth-place) secured crucial finishes.
Springfield regained the lead in the three-meter diving competition, despite Tech senior Doria Holbrook providing yet another phenomenal performance. The two-time three-meter diving National Champion posted a score of 538.15 in prelims, before completely shattering her own NEWMAC Open, Championship and Institute record of 553.30 just hours later by posting an astonishing 593.30 in the finals. Although MIT racked up 20 points thanks to Holbrook's First Team All-Conference showing, the Pride's Erin White, Melissa Nelson, Michelle Reggio and Meghan Kijanka finished 4-7 to secure 53 points and give Springfield a 659.5-655 lead heading into the competition's final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
MIT's quartet of Jacobi, Katie Creasey, Sarah King and Sasha Brophy jumped out to an early lead in the event, but Springfield's squad made up the difference to finish with the winning time of 3:34.81, besting their preliminary qualifying time by nearly 17 seconds. Tech's team clocked in at 3:36.92, good enough for Second Team All-Conference accolades but just short of an elusive NEWMAC title.
The Engineers will return to the pool in mid-March, when they take part in the NCAA Championships in Oxford, Ohio, from Thursday, Mar. 13 to Saturday, Mar. 15. Qualifiers for the national meet will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 27.