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by Katy Funabashi

Villanova swimming and diving teams faced Penn State, which is ranked in the top 20, on Friday, Jan. 17.  Though the Wildcats were unable to pummel the Nittany Lions, they were able to stomp the Providence Friars the next day.

As a team, freshmen Colleen Lord and Kristen Haulfler, sophomore Kaisla Kollanus and junior Sara Juerk placed third in the 200 -meter medley relay against Penn State.

Freshman Jessica Randolph finished 0.09 seconds behind Penn State’s sophomore Chelsea Vanderweele in the 200m freestyle, and came in third in the 200m butterfly.

Kollanus set a new PR with a 23.12 second time in the 50 free. When the 100m and 500m freestyle swimmers snapped their capped heads up to look up at the clock, Wildcat names were listed one after another, with three top finishers in both events.

The men’s team swept the 500m free, too, on Friday, with freshmen Harrison Rodts and Greg Cino and sophomore Patrick Sullivan claiming the top spots.

Later in the 100m butterfly, three Wildcats—senior Ben Smith,  sophomore Nikolai Tchobanov and freshman Ian Kleinsmith—conquered.

Two of Villanova’s 200m freestyle relay teams triumphed at the end of the meet, as well.

In diving, sophomore Zach Romanovsky and junior Robert Patten came in third and fourth on the one-meter board and the three-meter board. Senior Michelle Hall won the three-meter board dive and came in third on the one-meter board against the Nittany Lions. Unfortunately, Penn State pulled away with the win. The Nittany Lions men’s team won 191-96, and the women won 166-118.

When the Providence Friars showed up on Saturday morning, the Wildcats were excited to be back in the pool.

The Wildcats’ victory over conference-rival Providence was especially sweet because it was the last home meet for Wildcat swimming and diving seniors Smith, Kyle Grant, Michelle Hall and Mikah Schlesinger.

In the end, Providence couldn’t match Villanova’s 20 first-place finishes. Notable wins include a women’s sweep in the 1000m freestyle, 100m free, 200m backstroke and 200m butterfly and a 50m freestyle sweep for both men and women.

Both Villanova teams came in first for the 200m medley relay. Rodts won the 1000m free. Adding to the strong showing, junior Katrin Heider and freshman Emily Mayo came in first and second, respectively, in the 200m freestyle.

Divers Romanovsky and Patten came in first and second in the one- and three-meter diving event. Hall also triumphed in the women’s one- and three-meter diving events.

The Wildcats swim and dive at Pittsburgh on January 31, and then they have the Big East Championships in mid-February. Whoever said cats hate water should bite his tongue because the fierce ’Nova Wildcats are ready to finish strong.

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