NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College men's swimming & diving team matched its best showing ever at a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship over the weekend, taking fourth place among seven schools when the three-day event drew to a close on Sunday in Balfour Natatorium. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won its second straight championship, tallying 1,027 points.
As host of the meet for the fourth time in five years and the sixth time since 2000, the Lyons notched 312 points to edge out fifth-place Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) by 20 after sitting in last place following the first day of competition on Friday. Wheaton also captured fourth place in 2005 and 2006 but had finished fifth each of the past two seasons, falling short of fourth-place WPI by nine points in 2008 and just five points last winter.
After vaulting from seventh after the first day into fourth by the end of Saturday, the Lyons carried a 20-point lead over WPI into Sunday. A trio of Wheaton swimmers picked up critical points in the opening event, the 1,650-yard freestyle, to increase the margin to 28 points. Senior John Ahern (Boxboro, MA/Acton-Boxboro Regional), junior Sam Dean-Lee (Rocky Hill, CT/Xavier) and sophomore Christian Woods (Claremont, CA/Webb School of California) all finished within 14.47 seconds of one another while besting WPI's lone scorer.
Wheaton extended its advantage to 38 points after junior Zach Fichman-Klein (North Attleboro, MA/North Attleboro) and sophomore Devon Best (Brentwood, TN/Ravenwood) tied for 10th and tied for 12th, respectively, during the 200-yard backstroke.
After the lead shrunk to 33 due to no Lyons qualifying for 100 free finals races and one Engineer participating, sophomore Trevor Deans (Redding, CT/Joel Barlow) finished one spot ahead of a WPI swimmer during the 200-yard breaststroke consolation race to add another point to the Wheaton advantage.
An Engineer took third in the 200-yard butterfly and another swam in the consolation final, as WPI cut 11 points off the deficit to come within 23 following the race. Junior Corey Best (Brentwood, TN/Ravenwood) turned in a 10th-place showing in the event, edging out the second Engineer by 0.09 seconds, while classmate Eddie Gillie (Haverhill, MA/Saint John's Prep) earned four important points during his consolation race.
Without a WPI diver in the three-meter event, junior Jonathan Gold (West Harrison, NY/Fordham Prep) took eighth with 341.20 points. Leading by 32 heading into the final race of the weekend, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Wheaton clinched fourth place by scoring 30 points to the Engineers' 42. Dean-Lee, Fichman-Klein, junior Ben Sabol (Saint Petersburg, FL/Shorecrest Prep) and freshman Sam Neill (Ludlow, MA/Belchertown) each swam legs for the seventh-place relay, which finished in 3:16.12.