Ephs Defeat NESCAC rivals Tufts, Wesleyan, fall to WPI in nailbiter

Ephs Defeat NESCAC rivals Tufts, Wesleyan, fall to WPI in nailbiter


Middletown, CT—In their final racing opportunity prior to the holiday break, the Eph competed in an energetic four-way meet, facing off against 2018 NESCAC Champion Tufts, Wesleyan, and WPI. The Williams men defeated Tufts (170.5-121.5) and Wesleyan (214.5-104.5), but fell just one point short against WPI, which ended in a score of 151-150.

Despite the loss, the Ephs brought some fast swims to the table, with a number of people dropping down their season bests. The meet kicked off with the 50s of stroke. In the 50 Breaststroke, Williams took places 2-4 with Jack Melnick '19 (26.68), Sam Gollob '22 (27.03), and Clayton Morikawa '20 (27.20). Later, in the 100, the same crew returned to touch 2nd through 5th, as Melnick (58.42), Morikawa (58.73), and Gollob (59.44) all touched in season best times and were joined by first year Aaron Stanton (59.24). In the longest of the breaststroke races, Morikawa and Melnick had season-best swims, with Morikawa touching second in 2:10.18, and Melnick fourth in 2:11.32.

The 50 fly brought a young group forward, where Brennan Lee '21 (23.29), Zeb Hart '22 (23.42), and John Gaffney '21 (23.89) combined to take places 3-5. Hart returned later in the meet for the 100 fly and demolished his season best to touch third in 51.68. Lucca Delcompare '20 followed Hart closely in the 100, but made his presence known in the 200, bringing his intense closing speed to the table, but falling just short of the win, settling for second in a time of 1:54.08.

In the 500 freestyle, the ever-improving Williams distance crew asserted themselves over the rest of the field in a 1-2 sweep, with Jamie Lovette '21 touching first in 4:41.62 and Jackson Karofsky '21 touching second in 4:43.05. Impressively, in a quick turnaround, Karofky won the 400 IM shortly after in a season best 4:07.82, where he was followed by Gaffney, who placed second. Lovette had a quick turnaround of his own, racing Tufts NCAA-runner up sprinter Roger Gu. In an extremely close race, Gu ultimately touched out Lovette 1:42.89 to 1:42.94, despite Lovette's valiant closing 50. Henry Marquardt '21 improved his season best to touch for third in 1:45.99.

The backstrokes brought a freshman crew to the forefront, as Nick Whitcomb and Paul Leclerc traded close races. In the 50 backstroke, Whitcomb flew to the wall for third in 24.17, while Leclerc came in fifth at 24.54. The 100 was even closer, with Leclerc (52.62) out-touching Whitcomb (52.72). In the longest of the distances, Leclerc took the win overall, touching in 1:55.29, while Whitcomb settled for fourth in a season-best 1:56.13. Splitting them up was Karofsky, returning for his third individual event, hitting the wall in 1:55.73 to tie for second.

The freestyle races featured senior Curtis Maher '19, who took second in the 50 in a season-best 21.80, Will Zhang '22 (21.94), who was fourth, and Aaron Stanton '22 who was fifth. Stanton had another great 100 freestyle this season, finishing second in 47.56, while Maher touched fifth in 48.00.

In the final event of the night the 'A' 4x100 freestyle relay touched third, with Stanton (47.47), Marquardt (47.79), Maher (47.32), and Lovette (47.25) combining for a season-best time.

Head Coach Steve Kuster said: "I thought today was a step in the right direction for the men. There were improvements in lots of areas today, and some motivated racing. I liked the level we competed at, but there is always room to be better. It would have been nice to walk away with all 3 wins, but falling just short to WPI will hopefully keep the team motivated, and we need to focus on finishing out meets better in the future."

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