BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Five school records were set and Lehigh’s 200 yard free relay team won a Patriot League title as the Mountain Hawks opened up competition at the Patriot League Championships, Thursday at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium. Lehigh’s men finished the first day of competition in fourth place while the women are in fifth after day one.
The team of senior Frank Cuzzola, junior Matt Chrzanowski, senior Demetri Karedis and junior Chris Hoke brought home Lehigh’s first relay league title since 2005 as they won the 200 free relay with a school record time of 1:20.05. Navy was leading the finals race after the first leg but was disqualified after their second leg swimmer left the block early. The win snapped a streak of 22 consecutive relays won by the Navy men as Lehigh won the event for the first time since 1998. The first place finish was the first for the Mountain Hawks since Dan Johnson won the 200 yard freestyle in 2008.
Five swimmers finished in the top 16 of the men’s 50 yard freestyle with Karedis lead the way for the Mountain Hawks in Thursday morning’s preliminaries, breaking his own school record with a time of 20.19 seconds. Hoke qualified second at 20.31 seconds giving Lehigh the top two qualifiers for the finals.
In Thursday night’s finals race the Mountain Hawks were denied an individual champion as Navy’s Hugh Davidson edged the Lehigh duo to take gold with a time of 20.21 seconds. Hoke finished second with a time of 20.35 while Karedis took third, just .02 behind. Cuzzola was the third Mountain Hawk to reach the finals, finishing seventh with a time of 21.02 seconds. Chrzanowski and sophomore Martin Kendig qualified for the B final in the 50, with Kendig placing 12th overall with a time of 21.13 and Chrzanowski finishing in 13th just .02 behind.
Sophomore Danny Bennett also reached a championship final, placing eighth in the 500 yard freestyle with a time of 4:32.77. Classmate Eric Sherwood added a team point with a 16th place finish.
Freshman Jacob Hassel led Lehigh in the 200 yard individual medley, finishing in 13th place with a time of 1:53.56. The Mountain Hawks closed out day one with a fourth place finish in the 400 yard medley relay as Kendig, Hassel, Hoke and Karedis teamed to post a time of 3:23.64.
On the diving boards, sophomore Dan Bateman earned three team points with a 14th place finish in the three meter event. Bateman scored 205.25 points.
Lehigh sits in fourth place after day one with 142.5 points. Navy once again is out to the lead with 303 points to lead second place Army by 98 points. Bucknell is third with 170.5 while the Mountain Hawks lead fifth place Colgate by 73.5 points.
On the women’s side, freshmen Courtney Patterson and Carolyn Koch accounted for the two individual records, while the Mountain Hawks’ 400 medley relay team closed the opening day with a school record performance.
Lehigh’s women scored 96 points in the first day of competition.
Patterson set the first record of the day in the 500 yard freestyle as she posted a time of 4:56.49 in the preliminaries, breaking a record set by Allison Rolish in 2010. In Thursday night’s finals session, Patterson bested that mark, swimming a 4:54.91 to finish sixth in the event.
Koch also set a school record in the morning and then bested it at night. Koch qualified for the finals in the 50 yard freestyle by posting a time of 23.76, then topped that mark in the finals with a 23.66 to finish in seventh place. The previous record was set by Becky Hiro in 2004. Another freshman, Rebekah Campo, reached the B final in the event and finished in 15th place with a time of 24.18 seconds.
The Mountain Hawks closed out the first day of competition by breaking a school record in the 400 yard medley relay that was set at last year’s championships, en route to a fifth place finish. Sophomore Alissa Leung and senior Emily DiDonato teamed with Patterson and Koch to post a time of 3:51.01. Leung and DiDonato were both on last year’s record setting team as well.
Another freshman who had a strong start to her first league championship was Melissa Feeney, who reached the finals of the 200 yard individual medley and placed eighth with a time of 2:06.59. Leung qualified for the B final and finished 15th with a time of 2:09.56.
In the first event of Thursday night’s finals session, Campo teamed with senior Katie Brinkhoff, junior Stephanie Yaszemski and sophomore Taylor Wise to finish fifth in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:37.93.
Defending champion Navy holds the early lead in the team race, followed by Colgate and host Bucknell. Lehigh is 46 points behind fourth place Army and 48 ahead of sixth place Holy Cross.
The Patriot League swimming and diving championships continue Friday from Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium. Preliminaries will begin at 10:30 a.m. with finals competition set for a 6 p.m. start.
Women’s Team Standings
1. Navy (223 pts.)
2. Colgate (167)
3. Bucknell (154)
4. Army (142)
5. LEHIGH (96)
6. Holy Cross (48)
7. Lafayette (36)
8. American (25)
Men’s Team Standings
1. Navy (303 pts.)
2. Army (205)
3. Bucknell (170.5)
4. LEHIGH (142.5)
5. Colgate (69)
6. American (52)
7. Holy Cross (50)
8. Lafayette (32)