WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – For the second consecutive year, it came down to the final event between the University of Saint Joseph and Western New England University swimming & diving teams. After WNEU edged USJ last season, the Blue Jays got their revenge this year in thrilling fashion winning the 200 free relay by .49 seconds to secure a 144-126 victory on Senior Night in the final meet of the 2017-18 season for USJ inside Bruyette Natatorium on Friday evening. Prior to the dual meet, the Blue Jays honored their pair of seniors Veronika Latawiec (Newington, Conn.) and Olivia Kajda (Katowice, Poland) with a special celebration in their final home meet of their respective careers.
Score: University of Saint Joseph – 144, Western New England University – 126
Records: USJ (4-2), WNEU (5-5)
Location: West Hartford, Conn. – Bruyette Natatorium
Date: Friday, January 26, 2018
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Leading 131-122 heading into the final event, the 200-yard free relay, the Blue Jays needed a win or to take both second and third place to defeat the Golden Bears.
- USJ didn't take any chances leaving it all in the pool and the team led by senior Veronika Latawiec (Newington, Conn.) along with sophomore Taylor Houghtaling (East Hartford, Conn.), and juniors Annmarie Masayda (Watertown, Conn.) and Gabriella Alberino (East Haven, Conn.) clipped WNEU by .49 seconds and touched the wall first with a time of 1:51.63 to secure the win.
- The Golden Bears started the meet off strong with wins in the first three events before Latawiec posted her first of two individual backstroke victories on the evening. Her first came in the 50 back where she bested the field with a time of 30.70.
- That would spark a streak of five straight gold medal swims for the Blue Jays. Masayda followed with a convincing win in the 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 33.75 before Alberino came-from-behind in the final 25 yards to pass WNEU's swimmer in the 100 butterfly and touch the wall first with a time of 1:07.38.
- In an electrifying 50-yard free, Houghtaling edged the field right at the wall to lock down a victory after touching at the 28.48 mark, just .57 seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer.
- Junior Elizabeth Sears (Bristol, Conn.) would then pick up nine points and a win from the 1-meter diving board after posting a score of 140.75 on six-dive attempts.
- WNEU answered with a victory in the 100 free to draw the score even at 79-79 heading into the final six events of the meet.
- The Blue Jays responded though and recorded five first-place finishes over those six events to avenge last season and triumph on Senior Night.
- Latawiec started the surge with a win in the 100 back, cruising to victory with a time of 1:07.10.
- Alberino posted a victory in the 500 free coming in at 5:58.08 sandwiched between a pair of gold medal swims from Masayda in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:14.48) and 50 butterfly (30.67).
- The Golden Bears kept their chances alive with a first-place swim in 100 IM which set up for the dramatic ending in the 200 free relay.
Tonight's meet ends the dual meet portion of the schedule for the USJ swimming & diving team, but a select group of swimmers who posted qualifying times in their respective events will move on to compete at the New England Championships beginning on Feb. 15 through Feb. 18 hosted by the University of Rhode Island at the Tootell Aquatics Center.