New Brunswick, NJ (2/20/11) – Closing out perhaps its best performance at the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Championships in several seasons, Montclair State set four more school records on the final day as the men finished in fifth place out of 18 teams and the women seventh of 19 at Rutgers University on Sunday afternoon.
Senior Blaise Lacca (Sewell, NJ / Washington Township), who swam the final leg of the record-setting 400 freestyle relay squad, was presented the Dick Krempecki Outstanding Senior Male Award for his significant contributions to his team and the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Conference as he helped the men total 615 points. On the women’s side, sophomore Ashley Vallone (Park Ridge, NJ / Park Ridge) collected her second individual record, setting it twice as the women registered 503.5 points to finish seventh.
In total, Montclair set 13 new school records during the three-day competition – more than double the total from last year when it recorded five.
A championship meet filled with plenty of excitement for MSU, ended on the highest note as the men’s 400 freestyle relay team set two records in the same event. Sophomore Zak Westerberg (Hamilton, NJ / Hamilton North) posted a time of 47.07 in the leadoff leg which broke John Harding’s 1992 record of 47.53 set at the Metropolitan Championships. Michael Smith (Cherry Hill, NJ / Cherry Hill East) and Thomas Long (Morristown, NJ / Morristown) each turned in solid legs and then turned it over to Lacca, who went 47.83 in the final 100 yards to finish off the quartet’s time at 3:09.91, good enough for fourth place while also breaking the MSU record set by the same group a year ago at 3:11.09.
Montclair’s other record on the day came courtesy of Vallone, who broke Kristine Bates’ mark in the 100 freestyle during the morning preliminaries. Vallone, who set the 50 freestyle mark on Friday, swam 53.89 to top Bates’ mark of 53.98 set in 2008. However, she would reset the record in the finals with a time of 53.73 placing fifth.
But Vallone would reset that mark leading off the 400 freestyle relay that placed fifth and just missed a 14th school record. Vallone rewrote her record for the third time in the day going 53.39. Laura Spadoni (Nazareth, PA / Nazareth Area), Christina Crossin (Milford, CT / Lauralton Hall) and Kelsie Donahue (Egg Harbor, NJ / Egg Harbor Township) joined Vallone for a time of 3:40.88, just .12 seconds off the school record set during the 1985 NCAA Championships.
Senior Galina Loutchouk (Richboro, PA / Nazareth Area) reset her own school mark in the 1650 freestyle with a ninth-place showing in the event. Loutchouk swam 18:27.87 to break the record she set in last year's Metropolitan Championships.
Freshman Joseph Berry (Edison, NJ / Edison) was seventh on the men’s side at 16:57.58. Loutchouk would also add a 10th-place finish in the 200 butterfly (2:16.26) with Westerberg finishing 12th in the same event at 2:01.22. Sean Chambrovich (West Allenhurst, NJ / Red Bank Regional) and Donahue finished 12th (2:00.46) and 11th (2:14.33), respectively in the 200 backstroke with Spadoni and Chris Lee (Morris Plains, NJ / Parsippany Hills) placing 12th (2:30.01) and 14th (2:16.57) respectively in the 200 breaststroke.
Lacca would collect 18th place in the 100 freestyle with a time of 48:12 while Long finished 22nd in the event at 48.83.