SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph swimming and diving team combined to post 16 collegiate-best times, but were edged 129-125 on the road by the Western New England Golden Bears on Friday night in the Blue Jays final dual meet of the 2016-17 season at the Alumni Healthful Living Center pool. Sophomore Veronika Latawiec led the way for USJ posting first place finishes in all four events that she contested in and a pair of career-best marks in the 50 and 100 backstroke. USJ closes the season 1-4-1 in dual meet action with the narrow setback, while WNE improves to 4-2 with the victory.
For the second time in the past four meets, it came down to the final event to decide the win/loss decision for the Blue Jays. USJ led 121-118 heading into the 200-yard freestyle relay, but whoever won the meets final event would walk away with the victoiry and the Golden Bears prevailed posting a time of 1:50.12 to beat out USJ's team of sophomore Elizabeth Sears (Bristol, Conn.), senior Lillian McKenzie (Rocky Hill, Conn.), freshman Alyssa Barandon (Meriden, Conn.) and junior Olivia Kajda (Katowice, Poland) who finished at the 2:19.22 mark.
The Blue Jays opened the meet with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Latawiec along with fellow sophomores Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, Conn.) and Gabriella Alberino (East Haven, Conn.) and freshman Taylor Houghtaling (East Hartford, Conn.) combined for a time of 2:03.38 to edge out WNE.
Sophomore Mariah Markham (Bristol, Conn.) had her best meet of the season recording three personal-best marks on the evening. In the demanding 1,000 free she touched the wall with a time of 20:27.03 before posting career-best times in the 100 back (2:21.53) and 500 free (9:58.57).
In the third event of the meet, the 200-yard free, Alberino snagged a first place finish for USJ. The sophomore bolted to a career-best time of 2:14.08 for the result.
Latawiec then followed with a personal-best time and first place result in the 50 back. She swam to a time of 30.39 in the 50 before posting another personal-best time in the 100 back (1:06.53) for her third gold. She capped of her impressive performance by touching the wall ahead of the pack in the 200 IM with a winning time of 2:34.81.
In the 50-yard breaststroke, Masayda recorded a first place finish with a personal-best time of 34.32 and then jumped right back in the pool and posted a career-best time in the 100 fly in the very next event with a time of 1:15.16 for a runner-up finish. She closed the meet with her third first place finish of the meet, swimming to a time of 1:14.87 in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The USJ swimming and diving team will take three weeks off from competition preparing for their final meet of the year, the New England Championships, on Feb. 17-19.