MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – After recording 26 first-place finishes through eight meets this season, the Wesleyan University men's swimming & diving team has directed its focus to the 2018 NESCAC Championship, which will take place this Friday-Sunday at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
The morning trials will begin at 10 a.m. and the diving preliminaries will start at 2 p.m. each day, while the finals will commence at 6 p.m. on Friday, 5:50 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. All 11 NESCAC teams will suit up for the event.
The 2017 men's conference championship was held right at the Wesleyan Natatorium in Middletown, Conn., as Ali Pourmaleki '18 put together an outstanding effort in the championship final of the 200-yard butterfly with a runner-up performance. He clocked a time of 1:50.06, which set a new school record, and resulted in All-NESCAC honors.
Diver Ethan Chupp '18 led the Cardinals during the championship final off the 1- and 3-meter boards, grabbing fifth- and seventh-place accolades, respectively, with marks of 378.30 and 356.80. Alex Kapphahn '19 also joined the fun by competing in the championship final of the 100 butterfly, clocking a time of 51.35 and placing eighth overall.
Wesleyan, which finished in ninth place out of 11 teams during the 2017 NESCAC Championship, also notched four top-eight performances during the finals of relay events. In the final of the 800 freestyle relay, Pourmaleki, Kapphahn, Aidan Winn '18 and Quinn Tucker '20 were exceptional, earning a sixth-place nod with a time of 6:56.66.
Tucker, Pourmaleki, Kapphahn and Spencer Tang '18 finished in the seventh slot during the 200 freestyle relay (1:24.62), and the unit came in eighth during the 400 freestyle relay with a program record of 3:07.33. The four men also embarked together during the 400 medley relay, rewriting another program record with a time of 3:28.40, as the group checked in at the No. 8 slot.
During the 2017-18 season, the Cardinals have compiled three dual-meet victories, with the squad being anchored by sixth-year head coach Peter Solomon, assistant coaches Ethan Cooke and Devon O'Nalty, and senior captains Max Distler and Karl Ortegon. The team defeated Roger Williams, 176-123, and Springfield, 181-119, on Jan. 20, and edged Fairfield, 151-135, on Feb. 3.
Wesleyan is carrying a great deal of momentum into this year's NESCAC Championship, as the squad finished with an astounding seven first-place finishes during a double-dual meet on Senior Day (Feb. 3) at the Wesleyan Natatorium.
Tang, who has compiled six first-place performances on the individual side this winter, was the first swimmer to touch the wall in a pair of events, occurring in the 100 backstroke (53.01) and the 200 backstroke (1:57.69). Other first-place efforts in the highly-emotional, Senior Day meet came from Tucker (200 freestyle, 1:46.36), Pourmaleki (200 butterfly, 1:56.40), Kapphahn (100 freestyle, 47.38), junior diver Brandon Pearson (1-meter event, 266.00) and Chupp (3-meter event, 253.25).
Tang, who grew up in Piedmont, Calif., also garnered first-place accolades during the 50 backstroke (24.77) and the 100 butterfly (52.99) in a double-dual meet against Colby and Bowdoin on Jan. 26-27 in Middletown, Conn.
Pourmaleki, who has finished first overall six times on the individual side during the 2017-18 year, won a pair of races against visiting Connecticut College on Feb. 2, taking home first-place recognition in the 100 backstroke (53.45) and the 200 backstroke (1:56.50).
Pearson, who placed 14th and 22nd overall, respectively, during the 1- and 3-meter diving events at the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships, has been consistent off the boards during his junior season.
Overall, the Wayzata, Minn. native has totaled six first-place finishes this season, and on two occasions, he earned first-place acknowledgement off the 1- and 3-meter boards at the same meet. At the CT Cup on Dec. 2 in Middletown, Conn., Pearson placed first overall in the 1-meter event (257.92) and off the 3-meter board (261.90). He also accomplished the feat against NESCAC-rival Amherst on Nov. 20, posting marks of 255.60 and 240.90 during off the 3- and 1-meter boards, respectively.
During a 2-0 performance on Jan. 20 against Roger Williams and Springfield, the Cardinals touched the wall first during seven events – five on the individual side and two during relay events. Pourmaleki cruised through the water in times of 53.85 and 2:01.83 during the 100 and 200 butterfly, respectively, resulting in first-place honors in both events. Tang earned first-place laurels in the 100 (52.99) and 200 backstroke (1:58.59) events, while Tucker contributed with a first-place nod in the 200 freestyle (1:48.33).
Wesleyan also led the pack in the 400 medley relay (3:37.90) thanks to the efforts of freshman Phillip Wong, Kapphahn, Tang and Tucker. Pourmaleki, Kapphahn, Tucker and Tang finished in the No. 1 slot during the 400 freestyle relay (3:13.31).