Army Wraps Up Competition At ECAC Championships

Keeli McNeary

Keeli McNeary

Feb. 26, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Army men's and women's swimming and diving teams finished up competition at the ECAC Championships on Sunday evening inside Lejeune Hall on the campus of the United States Naval Academy.

The Army men racked up 493 points to place third out of 20 schools. The Black Knights finished just 10 points behind runner-up Bucknell (503). Navy won the team title with 744.5 points. Columbia (465.5) and Rider (405.5) rounded out the top five.

The Black Knight women, meanwhile, finished sixth out of 19 schools with 288.5 points. Navy captured the team title, accumulating 583 points. Harvard and Marist tied for second place with 529 points, Towson (410) placed fourth and Rider (309) finished fifth.

"I am really proud of our entire team," said sixth-year Army head coach Mickey Wender. "Our senior leadership has been tremendous all season long, and it continued this weekend. I thought Byron Plapp did an amazing job of setting the tone and leading by example.

"Our plebes have been as good as any group of freshman that I've had in my time here," added Wender. "They've contributed in every way possible, both in and out of the pool, and they certainly came through in a major way at these championships."

The Army women were led by freshman Keeli McNeary, who shattered the 12-year old Academy and plebe records in the 200-yard backstroke. The first-year standout touched the wall in 2 minutes, 2.07 seconds to place fourth and break the standards established by Stacey Kalota during the 2000 season.

Freshman Sam Allen posted a pair of top-15 finishes for the Black Knight women, placing 11th in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:23.82) and finishing 15th in the 200-yard butterfly (2:09.83). Her time in the 200 fly represents a personal best.

Freshman Josie Antilla turned in a 14th-place showing the 1,650-yard freestyle, clocking the seventh-fastest time in Academy history (17:27.42).

A pair of Army swimmers scored points in the 100-yard freestyle with sophomore Grace Hamilton (52.50) and freshman Haileigh Phillips (53.41) placing ninth and 14th, respectively. Phillips clocked a personal-best time of 52.96 during the preliminaries.

The Black Knights capped the evening by taking fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Phillips, freshmen Kristen Barta and Kristina Muller, and Hamilton teamed to complete the race in 3:34.54.

Freshman Will Viana produced the biggest highlight for the Army men, placing runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly with a personal-best time of 1:49.19. The clocking ties the 16-year-old plebe record and ranks as fifth-fastest time in Academy annals.

Viana was one of four Black Knights to score points in the 200 fly as junior Ayman Andrews (1:49.47), freshman Spencer LeeMurakami (1:54.02) and freshman Michael Dustin (1:53.47) placed third, eighth and 10th, respectively.

Freshman Casey Woudenberg turned in a big performance in the 1,650-yard freestyle, placing sixth with the eighth-best time in Academy history (15:56.38). Two other Army freshmen also authored personal-best times in the 1,650 free as Nic Laffosse (16:04.29) and Matt Kane (16:21.53) finished eighth and 12th, respectively.

Junior Bill McCarty produced an eighth-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle, clocking a time of 46.20. The third-year swimmer posted a personal-best clocking of 45.72 in the preliminaries. Plapp, who was competing for the final time as a Black Knight, placed 14th in the 100 free (46.84).

Sophomore Kenny Yacynych took 13th in the 200-yard backstroke (1:54.35), while sophomore Brendan Lorton finished 16th in that same event (1:55.95).

Freshman Joon Chung (2:06.33) and sophomore Ben Quay (2:07.63) occupied the 12th and 13th spots in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Army dominated the one-meter diving event on the men's side as three Black Knights finished within the top eight. Junior Chad Drake led the way, finishing runner-up with a score of 253.20 points. Junior Vinny Franchino (234.70) and freshman Josh Urnezis (224.00) placed fifth and eighth, respectively.

The Black Knights closed out the championships by finishing fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Army foursome of McCarty, Viana, Plapp and Woudenberg touched the wall in a time of 3:03.52.

"I've enjoyed working with this team this season," said Wender. "This group of seniors has taken our program to the next level, and they've set a high standard for all future Army teams. This class has changed the culture of Army swimming and diving, and I'll definitely miss this group. With that said, I am also very excited about the future."

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