The men’s swimming team suffered a rough ending to 2019, placing fourth out of five teams in Ewing, New Jersey this weekend.
The 44-event College of New Jersey Invite was a two-day event with six schools participating in total, with only five for the men, as East Stroudsburg University does not have a men’s swim team.
It wasn’t the best of starts for the Hawks on Friday. The first event, the 200 yard freestyle relay, saw the Hawks’ third-year Nolan West, second-year Mitchell Chappell, second-year Jared Finn and first-year Alex Palmero Baluev place eighth with a time of 1:29.47, the last possible position to earn points.
Their fortunes didn’t improve in the next major event, the 500 yard freestyle final. Second-year Ethan Bonney placed 15th of 16 swimmers, earning two points for New Paltz. Next up was the 200 yard intermediate medley, where first-year Owen Rowlands placed seventh of eight swimmers in his heat, gaining 12 points.
A real punch to the Hawks’ gut was in the 50 yard freestyle, where none of the five New Paltz swimmers made it past the preliminary round, with West, Chappell and Finn placing 23rd, 24th and 25th, respectively. Third-years Tom Bartnikowski and Leo Litovsky placed 27th and 28th, respectively. The day ended on another sour note in the 400 yard medley relay, with West, first-year Zac Brown, second-year Luke Gamboli and Chappell placing 11th and earning 24 points.
Saturday saw a much improved beginning from the Hawks. The 200 yard medley relay saw West, second-year Akiva Garfield, Gamboli and Finn placing sixth with a time of 1:39.50, scoring 28 points. In the same heat, Brown, third-year Graham Cono, Bartnikowski and Palmero Baluev placed tenth with a time of 1:43.09 and earning 22 points.
Their improvement continued into their next event, the 400 yard intermediate relay. Rowlands placed fourth in the top heat with a time of 4:20.94 and Bonney placed second in his heat, clocking in at 4:24.11.
However, from those successes, the Hawks took two steps back as they hit another slump. Finn placed 12th overall in the 100 yard breaststroke with 1:02.71, with teammate Brown placing 16th with a time of 1:03.90. The best effort of the day was the 800 yard freestyle, where Finn, Chappell, Bonney and fourth-year Tim Stecher placed fifth in their heat, a 7:19.06 time handing them 30 points. Bonney also managed a fifth place, 16:46.98 time for the grueling 1650 yard freestyle. From there, it was business as usual for the Hawks as they struggled mightily against their non-SUNYAC opponents.
Despite the improved effort on day two, the Hawks’ performance echoed their previous season’s fifth of six finish in the same meet. The College of New Jersey Lions and Merchant Marines were absolute powerhouses, scoring 1310 and 929.5 points, respectively. Swarthmore College rounded out the top three with 816.5 points and New Paltz managed a total of 295 points, breezing past the West Chester University Golden Rams’ 29 point effort.
The Hawks return to SUNYAC action and start the 2020s for New Paltz men’s swimming against the Cortland Red Dragons on Friday, Jan. 10 at 5 p.m.