Anderson, Indiana- Fueled by 17 total individual event titles and several season-best swims, the Wittenberg University men's and women's swimming & diving teams split a dual meet at Anderson University on Friday night, with the men picking up a 126-84 victory over the Ravens and the women dropping a 140-102 decision against AU.
Despite the team loss, junior Marita Banta-Long had one of the most productive nights between the lane lines for the women's team as she picked up three total individual event victories, highlighted by posting a season-best time in the 50 free after touching the wall first with a time of 25.93 seconds. She also outpaced the field in the 200 free (2:02.91) and the 200 IM (2:18.07). Classmate Annelise Gibson once again dominated in the breaststroke events, opening the meet with a winning time of 1:11.88 in the 100, before posting a season-best time of 2:38.88 in the 200 to win the race by nearly 10 seconds. Two additional women's swimmers brought home individual event titles on the night, including senior Morgan Siefert in the 1,000 free with a time of 11:42.81 and Freshman Sophia Spriggs in the 200 fly with a season-best time of 2:29.59.
“To be honest, I expected a little bit of a let down after last week. I was dead wrong. Putting together two great meets in a row, despite some injuries and illnesses, heading into the last month of the season is what you hope to see,” said interim head coach Noah Moran. “This is happening while having increased our training intensities. The team members have been doing some great things in practice all season. The hard work, the focus on technique under fatigue, the pacing, the positive outlook, all they have done individually, and more importantly as a team, is really starting to show.”
On the men's side, four different athletes combined to post 10 individual event titles for the Tigers, led by the duo of junior Bradley Barren and freshman Benjamin Hongell winning three events a piece. Two of Barren's three winning times were season-best times for the junior as he posted a time of 1:53.91 in the 200 free and a winning time of 56.23 in the 100 fly. Barren also won the 100 free after reaching the wall first in 49.79. Hongell swept the breaststroke events on the night with a pair of season-best times, touching first in the 100 in 1:03.17, before closing out the meet by winning the 200 in 2:18.16. He also added a first-place showing in the 50 free with a time of 26.68 seconds. Sophomore Connor Flanagan picked up a pair of individual event wins in the distance freestyle events, touching first in the 1000 with a season-best time of 11:06.28, before logging a winning time of 5:14.72 in the 500. Finally, freshman Anthony Petruzzi was a double winner on the night in a pair of 200-yard events, opening with a winning time of 2:12.34 in the 200 back, before closing out the meet with a winning time of 2:07.78 in the 200 IM.
“We have one more dual meet to work on the corrections we want to make. This program is moving forward,” stated Moran. “The team members are recognizing their potential and acting on it. They should be/are taking a lot of confidence into the NCAC Championships.”
The Tigers will put a bow on their regular season dual-meet schedule next Saturday, January 26, with a home meet against Hiram at 1:00 p.m. Prior to the meet, the Tigers will celebrate their three graduating athletes with Senior Day festivities.