The Howard Bison Swimming and Diving teams traveled to Fairfax, Virginia this weekend for the George Mason Patriot Invitational. Against some of the East Coast's finest institutions and competitors, the Bison came away with some excellent performances between the lanes and on the boards.
Many Bison swimmers finished in the top-30 in their respective events. These terrific performances were led by senior Ashley Goins (Silver Spring, MD) and sophomore Chelsea Andrews (Glenside, PA.)
Goins competed in her largest and most talented field of the season, finishing 12th on the 1-meter boards with a score of 177.65 and 13th on the 3-meter boards with a score of 175.95, earning the team nine points. Andrews was terrific in her four individual events. She swam season best times in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles as well in 100 butterfly. On Friday, her time of 24.43 in the 50 freestyle was good for a finals invitation and a 16th place finish. On Saturday, Andrews went 1:57.70 in her 200 freestyle en route to a 28th place tally. This was proceeded by a season-best 59.63 time in her 100 butterfly, also good for 16th. Andrews finest individual performance came on Sunday evening when she swam a 52.72 in her 100 freestyle, good for a career-best time and a 10th place finish overall.
Other top-30 finishers at the meet included freshman Camille Dykes (Maplewood, MN) who finished 21st in the 400 individual medley with a time of 5:05.42 and 22nd in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:45.21. Senior co-captain Monique Major (Philadelphia, PA) joined the freshman in the 200 breaststroke with a finals time of 2:54.73 to finish 23rd. Freshman Nandi Ross (Capital Heights, MD) swam the first 1650 freestyle for the Lady Bison this season and maintained an impressive tempo throughout to finish 25th.
For the Lady Bison relays, Andrews anchored the 200 freestyle relay, finishing efforts by fellow sophomore E'lan Brewer (Lansing, MI) and freshmen Janai Ederaine (Corona, CA) and Ashley Douglas (Missouri City, TX.) The ladies' season-best mark showed a 1:42.58, good for 14th place. These four women combined to end the weekend in the 400 freestyle relay. Their final time of 3:46.01 placed them in 15th with another best time for the season.
The women also finished 14th in the 200 medley relay. Andrews, Ederaine and Douglas teamed with sophomore Summer Davis (Laverock, PA) to finish at 1:58.21.
On the men's side, sophomore Zadok Isaacs (Cantero Village, Trinidad and Tobago) scored top marks for the Bison. In his 50 freestyle on Friday evening, Isaacs finished in 15th place, entering the finals round with a season-best time of 21.77 earlier in the preliminary rounds. On Saturday, Isaacs took 28th place honors in both the 100 backstroke (55.07) and with a season-best 100 butterfly (53.41.) On Sunday, the sophomore finished with a career-best time of 1:58.82 in the 200 backstroke, dropping over two seconds from his season-best time, vaulting him into 24th place.
Isaacs anchored the most successful relay of the weekend, the 200 freestyle relay. Teamed with senior Damjan Strbac (Zagreb, Croatia,) junior co-captain Steven Lott (Los Angeles, CA) and freshman Darell Hungerford (Clinton, MD,) the team scorched their way to a season-best time of 1:28.34, good for 14th place.
Isaacs, Strbac, Lott and Hungerford combined in the 200 and 400 medley relays, as well as the 400 freestyle relay. In each relay, the Bison swam season-best times - 3:41.56 in the 400 medley relay, 1:40.10 in the 200 medley relay and 3:17.70 in the 400 freestyle relay - to finish in 16th place in each.
The Bison also took home 15th place points in the 800 freestyle relay. Swimming this event for the first time this season, the team of senior co-captains Omar McKenzie (Nassau, Bahamas) and Justin Morrison (Collier, TN) along with sophomore Darien Washington (Detroit, MI) and freshman Aaron Sykes (Plant City, FL) finished in a time of 8:37.64.
"To finish with as many season-best swims as we did, having trained continuously through October and November, is a testament to the focus this team has to improving," said head coach Matt Salerno. "As we continue to improve and ascend as a program, we can reflect on these kinds of successes with pride and know that our hard work is paying its dividends."
The Bison will enjoy their Thanksgiving weekend before celebrating Senior Day on December 4th. The meet against VMI and Catholic University will begin at 10AM with diving and at 1PM with the swimming competition. There will be a ceremony honoring Strbac, Morrison, McKenzie, Goins and Major proceeding the 1PM start time.