The long, impressive list of accolades that the seven seniors of the men’s swim team received before their last meet in Teagle Hall served as an omen of what was in store for the Columbia Lions — utter domination.
The Red won 13-of-16 events to beat the Lions, 191-109, and win the EISL dual meet championship outright for the first time in Cornell history. The men’s perfect 10-0 record is both the most wins in a single season, without a loss, and the first time the Red has completed an undefeated season since 1946 — before Cornell even joined the EISL.
After a fantastic dual meet season, senior Dave McKechnie and his teammates were thrilled with their accomplishment, but relieved that it’s on the books.
“It’s such a great feeling,” McKechnie said. “We tried to think about [the championship] as little as possible, telling ourselves it wasn’t a big deal. But after we beat Harvard and Princeton, it was on our minds. We knew we had the potential, but it feels great to have it behind us.”
The 200 medley relay team of sophomore Phil Baity, senior Dave McKechnie, sophomore Jackson Wang and junior Brad Gorter (1:31.32) beat out its Columbian counterparts and teammates senior co-captain Brad Newman, freshman Nick Campbell, classmate Ryan Boyle and senior Braden Orr (1:35.42) to give the Red an early 13-4 lead, which would only grow as the meet progressed.
Sophomore Wes Newman crawled his way to a win in the 1000 free (9:34.02), clocking in ahead of freshman Alex Dobrolioubov in fifth (10:04.34). In the next event, the 200 free, senior co-captain Mike Smit broke Newman’s previous pool record with a time of 1:38.13, while sophomore Kevin Carey earned a pair of points for the Red with a fourth-place finish (1:43.63).
After Baity (51.29) and Brad Newman (52.18) went 1-2 in the 100 back, McKechnie (55.85) notched the fifth straight win for the Red in the 100 breast, with Campbell in third (58.55).
Columbia sophomore Hyun Lee snatched away a win from the Red in the 200 fly, but freshman Max Royster (1:52.09), and sophomores Nick Cochran (1:55.71) and Mike Ramos (1:56.78) followed closely to go 2-3-4. Gorter claimed a win in the 50 free (20.70), outracing Wang (21.59) and freshman Colin Laren (22.02), who finished third and fifth.
“The guys just took control of the meet,” said head coach Joe Lucia. “Columbia couldn’t quite get it going. Once we got the momentum going, we were in such a better position emotionally. I had no doubt that they’d be focused, relaxed, and confident. Their early lead kept the tension in the second half low, which sure made it nice.”
Senior diver Luke Baer captured first place in the 3-meter dive with 331.28 points, and freshman Alaric Eby placed fourth (252.90) in the event, even after accidentally hitting the board with his hands on one of his dives.
The Red resumed the swimming events with another string of five first-place finishes. Sophomore Wes Newman (44.96), Gorter (46.23), and Carey (47.22) went 1-2-4 in the 100 free. Baity and Royster seized the top-2 spots in the 200 back with times of 1:49.99 and 1:52.22.
McKechnie won his second individual event of the afternoon in the 200 breast (2:04.18), while senior Rich Bowen (2:07.64) and junior Nick Oates (2:12.12) earned points for the Red by placing third and fifth, respectively. Smit took top honors in the 500 free (4:32.09), with Cochran placing fourth (4:43.13).
With three events still remaining in the meet, Wes and Brad Newman (50.58), and Wang (51.15) went 1-2-4 in the 100 fly, clinching the title for the Red. Wes Newman’s winning time of 49.12 also set a new pool record.
In the 1-meter dive, Baer and Eby again scored for Cornell, placing second and fifth, respectively. The Red yielded only the third event of the meet to the Lions’ sophomore Darren Pagan (1:53.83) in the 200 IM, who just beat out Campbell (1:54.10) and Bowen (1:59.33). Wes Newman, Gorter, McKechnie and Smit fittingly capped off the season in style by breaking the school record in the 400 free relay with a time of 2:59.97.
“It’s something really special for me as a senior,” said senior Rich Bowen. “What a great legacy to leave behind.”
Lucia and Bowen each added that the support of spectators and alumni gave the team an extra boost of confidence for which it is grateful.
“Friday’s was the best turnout we’ve had, with the coaching staff, colleagues, administration, as well as the usual fans and parents,” Lucia said.
“Often we’ll go on the road and there’ll be more Cornell people there than the home crowd,” Bowen said. “I love that. They’re in there with us.”
Columbia did not leave Ithaca empty-handed this weekend, however, as the lady Lions outscored the women’s team, 198-94.
Junior co-captain Leah Tourtellotte maintained her fantastic dual meet season performance by winning the 100 free (53.15) and the 400 IM (4:36.58), and placing second in the 200 free (1:56.87). Sophomore Sarah Yan finished right behind Tourtellotte in the 200 free, with a third-place time of 1:57.40. She also added three points for the Red by placing third in the 100 free (54.85).
Freshmen Laura Acchione and Gretchen Schroeder performed well against Columbia. Acchione was runner-up in the 1000 free (10:57.99) and took fourth in the 200 fly (2:13.73). Schroeder, who was narrowly edged out by the Lions’ Shannon Hosey in the 1-meter dive, placed second with 209.09 points.
In their final home meet, senior co-captains Caitlin Burrows and Sabrina Kwauk finished third in the 3-meter dive (244.49) and the 100 breast (1:10.80), respectively.
“For myself, having it be my last meet, I had some of my best scores,” Burrows said. “How we’ve worked over four years has really paid off.”