NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College men's swimming & diving team matched last season's finish as host of this year's three-day New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship in Balfour Natatorium, as the Lyons claimed fifth place in the seven-team field for the third time.
Entering the last event, Wheaton was in position to finish as high as fourth, as its final total of 360 points were five points shy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and 19 ahead of Clark University. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) knocked off three-time defending champion United States Coast Guard Academy with 1,030 points, Coast Guard took second with 784.5 points, while Springfield College was third with 613.
A total of nine school records fell for the Lyons, with sophomore Sam Dean-Lee (Rocky Hill, CT/Xavier) playing a hand in a team-high four and classmate Corey Best (Brentwood, TN/Ravenwood) in three. Dean-Lee smashed a pair of individual program standards in the 1,000 and 1,650 free events while breaking the 500 free record and swimming a leg in the school-best 800-yard freestyle relay. Best surpassed program marks in the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard individual medley and 400-yard individual medley.
In the meet's second event on Friday, Dean-Lee and sophomore Eddie Gillie (Haverhill, MA/Saint John's Prep) each twice surpassed the program mark in the 500 free, with Dean-Lee's trials time of 4:48.02 holding up as the standard. He took eighth place in the final. Best's school-best time of 1:58.92 in the 200 IM came in the trials.
Wheaton's best showing in day one was in the 400-yard medley relay, with Dean-Lee, Gillie, sophomore Zach Fichman-Klein (North Attleboro, MA/North Attleboro) and freshman Devon Best (Brentwood, TN/Ravenwood) combining on a sixth-place mark. In the 200-yard free relay, Fichman-Klein joined sophomore Ben Sabol (Saint Petersburg, FL/Shorecrest Prep) and freshmen Cole Larson-Whittaker (Penobscot, ME/George Stevens Academy) and Andrew Oliveri (Glastonbury, CT/Glastonbury) to take seventh.
Saturday saw a trio of program records fall, with each Best figuring in one of them. Corey Best placed third in the 400 IM, which was one placement shy of an all-conference qualification. Best's time of 4:15.16 shaved nearly four seconds off his trials showing of 4:18.92, which had bettered the three-year-old standard. Devon Best sided with Dean-Lee, Gillie and Larson-Whittaker in the 800-yard freestyle relay, as the quartet's 7:10.18 finish bested a school mark and was good for fourth in the meet.
Fichman-Klein also highlighted day two with a program standard in the 100-yard butterfly. His time of 52.16 during the trials set the mark, while his finals performance placed him eighth. Wheaton's 200-yard medley relay team, which consisted of Dean-Lee, Fichman-Klein, Larson-Whittaker and Sabol, took sixth, while Sabol and sophomore Jonathan Gold (West Harrison, NY/Fordham Prep) placed eighth in the 100-yard backstroke and one-meter dive, respectively. Gold's trials score fell just 2.25 points shy of Wheaton's eight-year-old school mark.
Four program records went down on Sunday, featuring Dean-Lee's two marks in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Taking sixth, Dean-Lee's time of 16:54.09 bettered the 2006 standard by more than 17 seconds. In the process, he also set the 1,000 free record in 10:13.28, which was over 11 seconds faster than the old record. Larson-Whittaker's opening 1,000 of the 1,650 free was also better than the former mark, at 10:23.74. Also finishing sixth was Corey Best in the 200-yard butterfly with a school-best time of 1:57.50 and Gold in the three-meter dive.
Devon Best surpassed a six-year-old standard in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:57.82, while he, Corey Best, Larson-Whittaker and freshman Charles Western (Syracuse, NY/Nottingham) capped off the meet with a seventh-place mark in the 400-yard freestyle relay.