The Seton Hall men’s swim and dive program mounted a furious charge on the final day of the 2018 Big East Championships to surge past Villanova on Saturday night, capturing its second successive conference title in dramatic fashion.
The Pirates overtook Villanova on the final day to take home the trophy with 777 total points, while the women finished third overall with 588 team points. Seven program records were broken over the course of this year’s championships, which took place at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24.
Late on the final day, seeking to bring the Big East title back to South Orange, a trio of Pirates put in clutch performances, sweeping the men’s 100-yard freestyle podium to take the lead. Dakota Williams won with a blistering time of 46.21, leading Noah Yanchulis and Vadim Jacobson to a 1-2-3 finish, thereby thrusting the men above Villanova and into the top spot. From there, Matt Zebrowski won the 200-yard butterfly and the Pirates took over, beating the Wildcats to the top spot by a mere 27.5 points.
The action for the Pirates kicked off on the first event of the competition, the 800-yard freestyle relay. The men’s 800-yard freestyle group of Noah Yanchulis, Vadim Jacobson, Lior Grubert, and Tyler Kauth won their event in 6:32.39, a school record, and the women’s quartet came second with a school-record time of their own. Yanchulis and Jacobson, along with John Redoutey and Dakota Williams, also won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Also on day one, on the women’s side, freshman diver Taylor Jackson took home first place in the 3-meter dive with another school-record-breaking performance, scoring 546.00 for her first Big East individual title. Her coach, Derek Sapp, shares Women’s Coach of the Year honors with Villanova’s Rick Simpson.
The Pirates’ strong performances continued in day two, which began with Yanchulis and Jacobson finishing 1-2 in the men’s 500-yard freestyle. Yanchulis, with a time of 4:23.12, won the event for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, Sara Ouellette broke a school record on the women’s side of the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:53.83.
Elsewhere, Williams won the 50-yard freestyle in a school-record time of 20.11, his second consecutive victory in the event.
During day three, Sidney Simpson stole the show by winning the 100-yard butterfly, taking second in the 100-yard breaststroke, and swimming in the 400-yard medley relay. All three events saw new school records set by Simpson and her medley teammates. Simpson also finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke on Saturday, capping an excellent final season for the senior.
In the men’s 200-yard freestyle, Jacobson edged fellow senior Yanchulis to win in a school-record 1:36.41. Tosoni also became a Big East champion for the first time on Friday, winning the 100-yard breaststroke, and added to his total the next day by winning the 200-yard breaststroke on Saturday night.
The championship weekend marks the end of the road for the conference swim and dive season, and the conference careers of several Hall’s seniors. The ride may not be over for all the swimmers, though, as Nationals await in March.
Kyle Beck can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @notkylebeck.