MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University men’s swimming and diving team opened the 2016-17 season in dominating fashion, with a victory against seven in-state foes at the West Virginia State Games on Saturday in Huntington, while the women notched a second-place finish.
The WVU men won 19 of 20 events over the course of two days to claim its fifth consecutive West Virginia State Games title. WVU won with a total of 1,696.50 points, ahead of West Virginia Tech in second place, with 480 points.
The Mountaineer women won six events, including four on Saturday, to place second overall with 986 points. Marshall won with 1,660 points.
Sophomore Merwane El Merini
led the way with two individual wins and two relay wins on Saturday. Freshmen Gabe Swardson
and Jack Portmann
and junior James Koval
all notched two individual wins, with Swardson also contributing to a relay victory. Additionally, freshman Ryan Kelly
had one win and two relay victories to highlight a strong showing for the West Virginia men.
“Today was a good day,” WVU coach Vic Riggs said. “We made some improvements from yesterday and thought our racing was good today. Like yesterday, we had some impressive swims from our freshmen and had several season-best times. We’ll use this weekend to build on for next week.”
Saturday’s action began with the 200 medley relay. The women notched a third-place finish, while the men won with a 1:35.99. El Merini, sophomore Jake Armstrong
, Swardson and sophomore Drew Damich
led WVU to its first victory.
In the 400 individual medley, the Mountaineer men added to their total thanks to Koval, who won with a 4:10.06. Freshman Robert Wylie
was second (4:11.46) as WVU swept the top six finishes. For the women, Pampalone placed second overall with a 4:30.59 and freshman Morgan Bullock
was third with a 4:30.76.
Next up was the 100 butterfly, where Swardson earned the win with a 51.76. Bullock placed second in the women’s race with a 56.87.
The WVU men kept its winning ways going in the 200 freestyle, as Kelly won his first individual race with a 1:43.91. He finished ahead of junior Chris McMahon
in second, as the Mountaineers claimed the top-five finishes. Currat led the way for the women with a fourth-place finish in 1:56.12.
In the 100 breaststroke, Portmann led the WVU men with a second-place finish in 59.58, while sophomore Marah Bieger
was sixth in the women’s race with a 1:10.01.
El Merini added to his winning totals with a 50.89 to win the 100 backstroke as WVU grabbed the top-five finishes. Freshman Trayton Saladin
’s 52.91 was good for second place. For the women, freshman Julia Miranda
recorded a second-place finish with a 57.93.
Like yesterday’s competition, the Mountaineers swept the competition on springboard. Calcut notched the win on 1-meter with a 288.15, ahead of sophomore teammate Madelyn Woods
, who scored a 231.15. For the men on 3-meter, junior Alex Obendorf
led a 1-2-3 WVU finish with a 329.55.
The afternoon session began with the 1,650 freestyle, where West Virginia notched a pair of wins. Pampalone swam a 17:20.07 to earn the victory by more than 30 seconds for the WVU women, while Koval claimed the win in the men’s race with a 16:26.18 as the Mountaineers finished 1-2-3.
The Mountaineer women won their second consecutive race with a victory by Currat in the 200 backstroke thanks to a 2:06.20 for a 0.65-second win over Carr. On the men’s side, freshman Luke Hene
’s 1:56.46 was good for the win, ahead of Saladin’s 1:56.54 to place second.
El Merini posted another win in the 100 freestyle with a 46.84, ahead of McMahon for a 1-2 WVU finish. Bullock’s 53.14 was good for third place for the women.
Portmann earned his second win in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:11.04. Junior Drew Riebel
was closely behind with a 2:11.28. Junior Loren Williams
led the WVU women with a third-place finish thanks to a 2:28.63.
The final individual event of the day was the 200 butterfly, where West Virginia notched a sweep of the event. Carr won the women’s race with a 2:04.51, while Swardson’s 1:55.12 led a 1-2-3 finish for the men.
The final event of the West Virginia State Games was the 400 freestyle relay. The men finished as they had nearly every other race, with a victory. El Merini, Kelly, Neaveill and Howells touched the wall in 3:09.94 for the final men’s win of the day. Bullock, Currat, sophomore Maggie Miller
and junior Celia Martinez
placed second with a 3:36.10.
West Virginia returns home to the WVU Natatorium to host the Big 12 vs. Big East Weekend on Friday, October 14, at 6 p.m., and Saturday, October 15, at 10 a.m. The Mountaineer men and women will compete against Seton Hall and Xavier, while the women will also face Butler.