Senior Perfection: Swim/Dive Caps Brilliant Run With 4th Straight Ivy Title
When it entered ranked fifth as a recruiting class by collegeswimming.com, you couldn't help but fear that expectations would be too high for the Princeton Men's Swimming & Diving Class of 2012.
Four Ivy League championships later, you wonder why you didn't set those expectations even higher.
The brilliant Class of 2012 became Princeton's first since the Class of 1992 to sweep all four Ivy League titles during their career. Princeton won the 2012 Ivy League Championship with 1523.5 points, while Harvard placed second with 1446 points. Columbia finished third with 1107.5 points.
The night may not have had the same drama as Championship Saturday in 2011, when the Tigers held off Harvard by 5.5 points in Boston, but it had the same sweet celebration at the end. With four fingers raised at the trophy presentation, the team took a celebratory leap into the Denunzio waters.
Later, the 10-member senior class was left sharing hugs and high fives as they completed their milestone goals.
Led by senior captains Jon Christensen, Colin Cordes and Mike Monovoukas, each of whom have been multiple-time first-team All-Ivy League honorees, Princeton dominated throughout the 2011-12 season. A perfect regular season and a win at the Big Al Open were appetizers for the championship entrée held at DeNunzio Pool this weekend.
Sophomore Paul Nolle completed his perfect weekend by winning the mile in a Denunzio-record time of 15:00.16. Nolle, who placed in the top three of each 2011 Ivy final, went one step further this year. He swept the 500, 1000 and 1650 for a maximum 96-point individual contribution to the title effort. Nobody was within 17 seconds of Nolle, who will hope to earn a bid to NCAAs when those announcements come out this week.
Princeton scored big points in the 200 back with four of the top six finishers, though Columbia freshman Jeremie DeZwirek negated Cordes' shot at a third straight 200 back title. DeZwirek won the event in 1:44.66, while Cordes took second in 1:45.01. Junior Kaspar Raigla followed in third with a time of 1:46.74.
Freshman Harrison Wagner was the lone Princeton 'A' qualifier in the 100 free, and he took fourth in 44.02. The Princeton senior duo of Michael Monovoukas and Matt LaMonaca finished 2-3 in the consolation final with times of 44.69 and 44.79, respectively.
Christensen made his final championship swim at Denunzio a memorable one, as he broke his own Princeton record in the 200 breast with a winning time of 1:55.96. The time was also an Ivy League record, and it gives Christensen eight individual championships throughout his career. This marked the first year that the senior standout went 3-for-3 in Ivy finals, making it the perfect exclamation point for his Ivy League career.
Sophomore Daniel Hasler followed up with a sixth-place finish in 1:59.50 for Princeton, which all but clinched the title during the event.
Princeton junior Stevie Vines was the reigning Ivy League Championships Diver of the Meet entering Saturday, but he had gone 0-3 in head-to-head duels against Harvard freshman Michael Mosca this season. Vines knew it would take something special to change that, and Vines had something special in mind. A record-breaking score of 400.60 in the 3-meter final gave Vines his second individual Ivy League title, as well as an Ivy and pool record.
That left Princeton needing only to make sure it didn't disqualify itself for a false start in the 400 free relay. While Harvard took the event in 2:53.22, Princeton's team of Cordes, senior Matthew LaMonaca, Monovoukas and Wagner clinched the trophy with a second-place finish in 2:55.75.
Christensen and Nolle shared the high-point swimmer honors, while Vines took the high-point diver award. Christensen also picked up the career swimmer honor, as his eight Ivy titles left him at the head of the Ivy League's Class of 2012.
But it was Princeton's Class of 2012 that authored the perfect conclusion its four-year journey Saturday night.
Four years. Four championships.