WILLIAMSTOWN, MA— Although the final score of the meet, 123 Amherst to 114 Williams, did not fall in the Ephs favor, their annual face off against perennial rival Amherst was nothing to hang their heads about. The meet was neck-and-neck the entire way, ultimately being decided by the last relay. The energy was palpable, as alumni, friends, and family crowded the stands, banging on the glass and cheering on their teams.
The meet kicked off with the 400 Medley Relay, where the Williams 'A' relay of Leclerc '22 (52.25), Melnick '19 (57.84), Pearcy '21 (50.28), and Stanton '22 (46.60) took second behind a very quick, and NESCAC leading time from the Amherst A relay.
Jamie Lovette '21 kept the Williams momentum rolling with a monster 1:40.56 time in the 200 freestyle, which was good for not only the win and the top time in the NESCAC by almost 2 seconds, but also moved him into the top-25 in the nation, despite his time being done in a brief. Not to be outdone, Lucca Delcompare '20 unleashed a swim of 1:42.73, good for third in the NESCAC and a huge drop from his previous in-season best. Rounding out the Williams' scorers was Henry Marquardt, who improved his season best down to a 1:44.02.
The final event before the first diving break was the 200 IM, where Williams swept places 1-3 behind freshman phenom Sean Tan (1:54.43- good for second in the NESCAC), distance ace Jackson Karofsky (1:55.88), and backstroker Paul Leclerc (1:56.44). John Gaffney '21 came in for fifth, on a valiant last 50 to overtake an Amherst swimmer in final stages of the race.
Williams has no divers, so Amherst took a quick 1-2-3 on the 1m and 3m board, with a very strong performance by FY Tom Amsbry. At the end of this first break, Amherst led by one point, 55-54.
The Ephs returned from the break ready to battle, where Williams managed a 1-1-3-4 finish in the 200 butterfly. Tan, despite a quick turnaround from the 200 IM, took it out fast and managed to hold on well enough to tie with Delcompare for the win in season best and NESCAC leading times of 1:52.91. Pearcy came in for third (1:54.57) and senior captain Shahzad Mumtaz touched fourth in (1:57.00).
Feeding off of this energy, the Ephs stepped up on to the blocks for the 100 freestyle, where Lovette (46.77) and Maher (46.78) touched 1-2 to overcome fast Amherst first year sprinter Scott Romeyn. Both of these boys demolished their previous in-season bests and posted times that were good for fourth and fifth in the NESCAC.
Up next was the 200 backstroke, where Amherst's Craig Smith took the win, but was followed closely by two Williams first years: Paul Leclerc (1:53.75) and Nick Whitcomb (1:54.81), both of whom dropped their season bests and moved into the fifth and sixth fastest slots in the NESCAC.
Returning for his third, and final, race of the night was Jackson Karofsky, who, despite having already swum two tiring races, still managed to run ahead of the field in the 500 yard freestyle, winning in a time of 4:40.66. Following shortly after was Andrew Trunsky (4:43.97) to complete the 1-2 finish.
Up next was the 3m diving break, where again Amherst placed 1-2-3. The score was now Williams 105- Amherst 96.
The final individual event of the night was the 200 breaststroke, where Amherst's Sean Mebust blew out the field in a NESCAC leading time of 2:05.03. Clayton Morikawa '20 (2:11.02) and Alex Bank '20 (2:11.27) put up valiant swims, with Bank's in particular being a massive drop from his previous best this season.
Heading into the final relay the energy in the Samuelson-Muir pool was electric. Everything in the rivalry grudge match rested on the first place finish. And, as all good meets should, the race came down to the wire, ultimately being decided by two tenths of a second. Ultimately, the Amherst 'A' relay won by the narrowest of margins, but the Williams relay of Zhang (47.60), Stanton (46.16), Lovette (45.55), and Maher (45.95) put up an incredible fight. Both teams took enormous chunks off of their previous in-season bests, clocked the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in the NESCAC, respectively, and featured monster splits, which only served to speak to how badly both teams wanted the win. The Williams 'B' relay was also quite fast, highlighted by splits of 46.75 from Christian Alberga '21 and 46.68 from Henry Marquardt.
Despite some incredible swimming from both teams, the Ephs fell just short of being able to fully take-on Amherst's much stronger diving squad in addition to quick Mammoth performances in the pool. The Williams men return to competition next weekend at Connecticut College.