KNOXVILLE, TENN. - The Bison took their final trip of the season to Knoxville, Tennessee to face the best the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association had to offer. The three-day extravaganza, the culmination of months of hard work, unfolded superbly for the up and coming Bison.
The atmosphere at the University of Tennessee was electric and grew in energy as the preliminary morning rounds transcended into evening finals. While we continue to grow in numbers, we represented our University admirably with every race, bringing the crowd to their feet in many instances. Remarkably, 97% of our swims on the weekend were best times, an unheard of statistic regardless of any team's size or accomplishments.
The Lady Bison were outstanding! Taking eighth place with only seven competitors is a monumental achievement and would not be possible if each swimmer did not do everything possible to maximize their talents. The Howard men took home fifth place, with every swimmer improving on every swim and bringing the audience to their feet on a most memorable and inspiring performance.
The individual highlights that dazzled the aquatic center include:
Chelsea Andrews - For the first time in the Lady Bison's history in the CCSA, Chelsea represented Howard in the top 8 of the 100 freestyle on Saturday evening. Her time of 52.96 got her eighth place and loads of notice from the conference. Chelsea's 50 freestyle on Thursday was strong, earning the freshman a second swim in the consolation heat. At night, she moved up three places to 11th place with a sensational time of 24.00. Additionally, Chelsea's 100 butterfly was her career best at a 59.51 and earned her an 18th place mark.
Lauren Anthony - Three swims - three career best times! Lauren's 50 free was her best by two seconds (as she stormed past her heat,) her 100 fly bettered by four seconds and her 100 freestyle faster by over five seconds! Congratulations to this determined sophomore!
E'lan Brewer - When the meets are the biggest, Brewer races at a higher level. E'lan was fabulous on Thursday with her 50 free, and only got better with her 200 free on Friday and the 100 free on Saturday - all best times! It should not be unnoticed that for all four relays that Brewer swam, she was the anchor leg - quite an achievement for a fantastic freshman!
Summer Davis - Outstanding 3-second drop in the 200 IM commenced a very successful weekend for Davis. Friday's 100 fly earned a best time and, with a powerful closing 50, Summer swam her best time in the most grueling event of the weekend: the 200 butterfly. A fourth best time was in the cards (check out the relay section...) Awesome all-around performance by the freshman!
Polo Edwards - Tremendous job leading the Bison for the competition! Thursday's 500 freestyle was a season-best! After two hard-fought 200 freestyle swims, Polo finished her individual career by executing a terrific 1650 freestyle, good for 18th place in the conference - her highest place in the CCSA in her three years in the league. Supreme job Ms. Edwards!
Cassy Evans - Started her first career conference meet with a blazing time in the 50 freestyle. Followed that up with an awesome 100 butterfly and a determined effort in her 100 freestyle - all three swims new career bests for the rookie - a solid testament to her six months of great work!
Alyssa Rogers - Concluded her collegiate career with three best swims, too. With her family on hand, Alyssa started with a three second drop in the 200 IM, a two second plunge in the 100 breaststroke and another second plummet in the 200 breast. We can't say enough about her steady improvement throughout these last two months - super job Alyssa!
The men have stuck together all season and were rewarded with each swimmer getting a best time in every single event they were entered in...absolutely amazing!
Charles Canady - Marvelous resilience from the junior! His selfless decision to swim the 1650 freestyle on Saturday was the first by a Howard man in our three years in the conference (which, by the way, allowed him to take 11th place.) Charles' 100 and 200 breaststrokes were his best for the season! The junior's efforts earned him points for all three individual events.
Kelvin Goodman - No one was more driven and tough than Kelvin. From his first 200 IM swim on Thursday to his second 200 breaststroke swim on Saturday, the sophomore punished the competition by shaving a combined 20 seconds from his three swims! Kelvin barely missed returning at night in the 200IM, but took control of his consolation heats, winning ninth place in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.
Zadok Isaacs - The freshman's first conference championship was one part learning experience and one part superb execution. His first 200 IM swim was a season-best, just outside of the top 16. But Zadok returned on Friday with the same speed and better results, this time a career-best mark in yards and a 10th place finish. His excellent adjustment in the 200 backstroke saw Zadok dip below the 2-minute mark (1:58.96) in earning himself 11th place!
Steven Lott - Sensational 100 butterfly to begin his CCSAs manifested into a stellar 100 backstroke on the same morning, earning him a second swim at night and a best time of the season. Steven not only brought home a 14th place in the 200 backstroke, but dropped six seconds from his previous best. If that wasn't enough, the sophomore time-trialed in the 100 freestyle and swam his best time ever in that race (49.55.)
Omar McKenzie - The perseverant junior bettered all of his times for his career. Beginning on Thursday with his full second drop in the 50 free was followed by a two second slash in the in 100 fly. Omar's Saturday saw a 2.5 second drop for his career best 100 freestyle (53.91) and, to wrap-up his wonderful weekend, Omar time-trialed in the 100 fly and performed even faster than his blazing time on Friday (1:01.11)
Justin Morrison - With his family in the stands, Justin's results were beyond remarkable. His 20 second drop in the 500 freestyle earned the junior a second swim in the consolation round on Thursday, where he shaved another four seconds for a career-best mark of 5:28.75. In the 200 freestyle, Justin lost another six seconds and got under the two minute barrier (1:59.87.) Saturday's three second drop in the 100 freestyles gave Justin's final total time drop to 33.5 seconds!!!
Damjan Strbac - All of the season's training paid-off for Damjan. Season-best marks in the 50 freestyle by almost a full second got Damjan a 16th place finish in the very fast heat. The junior swam the 200 freestyle three times and was better all three times than his seed time, a testament to his determination. On the final evening, Strbac came in 14th after dropping a full second.
Darien Washington - What a great experience for the freshman! Not only did he drop 14 seconds from his best 500 freestyle time, but Darien earned the opportunity two swim twice his the 100 and 200 backstrokes. In each, Darien dropped five seconds in the morning and another second at night to earn 16th place (1.01.39.) His 200 back was a great example of work ethic as he battled the burn for a six second drop and a 15th place mark!
James Washington - Without the full usage of his signature mustache, the midnight marauder swam the meet of his career. With Mom and Dad watching proudly (for D, as well,) James was marvelous in dropping 18 seconds in his career-best 500 freestyle and another seven seconds in his 200 freestyle. On Saturday, 2K10 torched the water with a four second drop and a career-best 55.93!
Brad Worrell - What a way to end his Bison career! Best times in the 50 and 200 earned Brad two night, consolation swims and two top-13 finishes. By Saturday, Brad earned his first finals swim with a great morning blaze of 47.51, pocketing an eighth place finish. Brad's poise and focus all us to call him our anchor for three of our relays, as well.
Speaking of relays, a large chunk of any teams' points are
earned in the five relays. Here are the Bison's Top five
relays of the weekend:
#5 - Men's 400 Medley Relay - To conclude Thursday's night session, Zadok's best 100 back split to date gave way to Kelvin. His best 100 breast split, at the time allowed for Jules to smoothly accelerate into a solid relay split before Brad closed the deal for the men, capturing fourth place. The final time of 3:37.48 was the team's best by three seconds!
#4 - Men's 200 Freestyle Relay - Jules charged off the block in
breaking 21 (20.93) with Damjan posting his best 50 free split of
the year (21.24.) Zadok's magnificent turn and finish gave
Brad the opportunity to extend the lead on VMI for the team's
fourth place time of 1:26.16, two seconds faster than their seed
#3 - Women's 400 Medley Relay - The Lady Bison closed the opening night's session in style. Summer was awesome in grabbing her best 100 backstroke of the year. Alyssa's best breaststroke split of the season was simply remarkable. Chelsea fought stroke for stroke to gather a very good 100 fly split before Brewer's fantastic 54.59 closed the deal for a 4:09.88 - an improvement by over 10 full seconds - and an eighth place finish!
#2 - Women's 400 Freestyle Relay - A litany of talent descended on lane 8 for the Lady Bison's final race of the 2009-2010 season. Chelsea's final 100 freestyle led the way at 53.14. Polo closed her college career with a sparkling 55.94. Cassy fought tough for her final 100 free at 56.40 and Brewer continued to shave time by showcasing her speed at 54.53. Yes, the ladies did better their seed time by almost three seconds, but that defeat of Radford allowed Howard's women to vault 1 point in front of the Highlanders for eighth place. That eighth place finish is not possible without each woman's dedication to the team.
#1 - Men's 400 Freestyle Relay - On a weekend full of speed, it's only fitting that our best relay not only ended the weekend with force, but was rewarded with some nice hardware. Zadok looked tremendous in his fastest 100 freestyle split in his young career. Damjan's 3rd 100 freestyle of the day was his fastest of the year by over a second. And Brad's mettle and muscle brought the men a time of 3:07.34. With an unexpected surprise from the College of Charleston, the Bison's bronze medals were removed from their necks and replaced with the shinier silver medals - the highest relay honor the University has earned in its three years in the CCSA. Way to go, gentlemen!
"We had improved and grown as a team every week and this past weekend was a culmination of that ascension," said head coach Matt Salerno. "It was with great pride and satisfaction that we were able to witness six months of dedication pay off for these swimmers. The way they each rallied around one another and fought through every race was remarkable. We are so proud of each of them."
This concluded the Bison's regular season. The team will next compete at a date and time to be determined in the near future.