NESCAC Championships – Day 3

1650 Freestyle

The first man to break Kenyon College’s 19 year streak at mile national championships, Ryan Lichtenfels, is the frontrunner in a very deep race. Gary Roberson and John Armstrong of Williams will be the strong favorites for second place. Lichtenfels will be joined by teammates Conor McAuliffe and Alex Pearlman in the top heat. Tufts likely brings in a large contingent, and any one of them might challenge for a place among the top 8.

200 Backstroke

The battle between Tim Walsh and Tim White in the 200 backstroke goes for its third round, with each having taken the title once before. Walsh enters as the favorite, leading a massive pack of Amherst and Williams swimmers to the final heat. White’s teammates, Daniel Schwab and Reid Fitzgerald, will also give Walsh a run. Bowdoin sophomore Basyl Stuyvesant could also challenge the Tim’s, as he has shown great improvement over the past season.

100 Freestyle

The sprinters take the stage for round 3, as Williams’ Ben Wampler (second place at NCAAs last year) and Tufts’ Owen Rood look to battle Alex Fraser (third place at NCAAs last year) of Amherst in the marquee matchup of the evening. All three of these swimmers will be looking to break the 45 second barrier. Wampler will likely have a friendly face in the final in Tom Vieth, and the Conn sprint freshmen, Sam Gill and Ryan Dignan, will look to join their names atop the leaderboard. Three seniors from the final heat graduated last season, so space in the top heat is up for grabs.

200 Breaststroke

The Williams 1-2 punch of Dyrkacz and Corbett strikes again, leading a strong Williams charge through the 200 breaststroke. Amherst also brings a bevy of depth, as the top 8 seeds in the event likely come from either team. Bart Federak, of Amherst, runner-up in 2009 and 3rd in 2010 looks to take that top spot for the first time but must overcome not only his teammates, including Beaulieu and O’Connor, but a charged Williams side that will include as many as 7 swimmers with a shot to finish in the top 16.

200 Butterfly

John Dillon, national champion and record holder, must be considered the favorite. However, he faces immense challenges from Won Ho Chang of Bates and Tyler Bulakul of Amherst, as well as Chris Granata from Bowdoin, three new faces to the NESCAC Championships. Bulakul has come on strong in the event this year after never competing in the 200 yard distance until coming to college this year. This race lost three seniors from the top heat, as well as the number 9 and 10 swimmers, so spots in the top 8 are wide open for the taking here. Not to be counted out of the top hunt are Stuart Horgan of Williams, the runner up last season who is hoping to come back strong after a fall semester abroad, and Tufts sophomore Brian Marko, who placed 3rd last year.

400 Freestyle Relay

Three of the top four teams, all four of which qualified for nationals from this heat last season, lose one senior. The only team to remain intact is Williams College, and their in season blast of 3:06, highlighted by 45-mid splits by Ben Wampler and Gary Roberson (a lifetime best time), looks to take their relay to the next level. The NESCAC record, set last season by the team from Middlebury, looks to be up for grabs. Amherst leads the field of challengers, which includes Tufts, Middlebury, and Conn College. This last heat of the big boys will be loud and fast. Look for all five of these teams to have a shot at making a trip to the big show in March from this event alone. The only thing more dramatic would be if the results of this race decided the team battle between Amherst and Williams.

Good luck to all of the swimmers in what is shaping up to be a great NESCAC Championship meet.

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