Rutgers dominates New Hampshire in bounce back win
A loss can bring a team down and cause it to struggle, but after the loss to then-No. 17 Penn State, the Rutgers swimming and diving team remained focused and earned a victory at New Hampshire on Saturday in its final road dual meet of the season.
“After we lose a meet, we don’t harp on the loss,” said senior Greta Leberfinger. “We get right back up and move on to the next meet. This time, we focused on the New Hampshire meet.”
The Scarlet Knights, who finished 8-1 in dual meets, dominated the meet. They won by a score of 183-117 and earned first place in 11 of the 16 events on the day.
“I was very happy with how we performed against UNH,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “We came together as a team and had a lot of season best times. We got the momentum flowing in the right direction for the last four weeks of the season.”
The momentum shift will be key for Rutgers as they are now less than a month away from the ultimate goal — victory at the Big Ten Championships.
“Any time you win a meet, it’s a good thing,” Spiniello said. “More importantly, our times are going in the right direction and so is our season training cycle.”
Rutgers captured both first place finishes in the only two relays on the day.
In the 200-medley relay, Leberfinger and juniors Joanna Wu, Morgan Pfaff and Sarah Coyne hit the wall first at 1:45.72.
In the 200-freestyle relay, Wu, Coyne and sophomores Rachel Stoddard and Meghan Kiely secured first place with a time of 1:36.45.
Individually, Wu and Leberfinger led Rutgers with two top finishes apiece. Wu hit the wall in the 100-backstroke at 55.97 and 200 backstroke at 2:02.98, while Leberfinger was able to lock up the 100-breaststroke at 1:03.67 and the 200 breaststroke at 2:17.93.
“I was pleased with how we showed up at the meet and the way we showed up was phenomenal,” Leberfinger said. “Even though we were tired and sore, we were able to stay in the race and when it was really close, pull it out in the end.”
Pfaff continues to excel this season, grabbing first place in the 200 butterfly touching the wall at 2:05.27, followed by freshman Thomi Lee with a career-best time of 2:07.67.
On the boards, the Knights claimed the top three positions of the 1-meter dive for the second consecutive meet.
A four-time Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week and two-time ECAC Co-Rookie of the Week, Addison Walkowiak continued her impressive freshman season with a first place finish 306.90. Freshman Morgan Engel claimed second with a 287.99 and sophomore Alyssa Black followed in third with 278.17 in the event.
Walkowiak also placed first in the three-meter dive with 301.65, while Engel grabbed another second-place finish with 287.62.
As the Big Ten Championship meet continues to approach, the Knights will begin to tone it down a bit in their workouts and practices.
“We are starting to rest a little bit for the Big Ten Championship meet,” Spiniello said. “It’s an exciting time and a time to fine tune the details of our race plans, turns, starts and dives to prepare ourselves even more.”
For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.