CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – The Army West Point swimming & diving team turned in some of its best performances of the season during its meet at Virginia on Saturday morning, though the Black Knights ultimately dropped results on both the men’s and women’s sides to the Cavaliers.
Army’s men’s team fell 186-94 to a Virginia program that finished eighth in the country last year, while the women lost 181-89 to the reigning national champions.
The team certainly rose to the challenge, as numerous cadet-athletes earned top-three finishes in the meet. Evan Zhang highlighted the competition for both sides, as he picked up a pair of individual victories.
The Men’s Meet
Army was competitive out of the gate, un-deterred by the level of competition in Charlottesville. In just the second event of the meet, Kevin Lin swam his way to a first-place finish in the 200 Free and was joined on the podium by Sean Dwyer, who finished third.
Two races later, Evan Zhang topped the field in the 100 Breast for his first victory of the day. Though the Cavaliers were able to grab the top spots in the following event, Owen Harlow added a boost in the 50 Free when he out-touched a Virginia swimmer by 0.03 seconds to take third overall.
Once again, Virginia responded with an additional handful of wins before Evan Zhang added his second triumph of the day, this time in the 200 Breast. Zhang bested the field by almost 10 full seconds in one of his most dominant performances as a Black Knight.
Ian Tansill kept up the momentum following Zhang’s thrilling win, as he swam to a first-place finish in the 500 Free. Tansill was one of three Cadets to score in the event, joined by George Glover and Sean Dwyer, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
On the boards, Army was led by the tandem of Daniel Alaimo and David Manelis. Alaimo captured the 3M event and finished second on the lower board, while Manelis placed third on the 3M board and fourth in the 1M event.
Though the Cavaliers controlled the scoring down the stretch, the Black Knights were still able to keep them honest with some tightly-contested races. Lin had a notable performance in the 400 IM, finishing less than a second off of the winning time.
Despite the top finishes earned by Army throughout the day, Virginia’s depth proved to be the difference.
The Women’s Meet
The women’s team got off to a slower start than the men’s side, as Virginia opened up the action by grabbing a majority of the available points. Eventually, Aurelie Migault became the first individual Black Knight to record a top-three finish when she placed third in the 100 Breast and her effort was matched in the following event by Melinda Zhang, as she finished third in the 200 Fly.
Virginia went on to post the top finishes in the next few events before Hannah Percher snapped the scoring spree with a third-place swim in the 200 Back. She out-swam a Cavalier by nearly two full seconds to earn three points.
Percher later went on to add another top finish in the 500 Free, swimming to a second-place finish just ahead of teammate Erica Esterly, who placed third.
Once again, the Black Knights were led by Minh Donnell on the boards, as she finished fourth in the 3M and 1M events. Both Acacia Chai (1M) and Abigail Gibbs (3M) added one sixth-place finish apiece to add points to the Cadets’ total.
The Cavaliers only had exhibition entries in the final events of the meet, which allowed Army to pick up some first-place finishes. Melinda Zhang (100 Fly), Meghan Cole (100 IM) and a Black Knight quartet (200 Free Relay) picked up key points as the racing wound down to push the score to its final margin.
Men’s Event Winners
200 Free – Kevin Lin – 1:39.61
100 Breast – Evan Zhang – 54.46
200 Breast – Evan Zhang – 1:58.91
500 Free – Ian Tansill – 4:35.81
3M Dive – Daniel Alaimo – 348.00
Women’s Event Winners
100 Fly – Melinda Zhang – 57.34
100 IM – Meghan Cole – 57.98
200 Free Relay – Sammie Edwards, Meghan Cole, Lauren Carag, Melinda Zhang – 1:37.34