BALTIMORE - The final regular-season meet for the Gallaudet University women's swimming team came down to the final event on Wednesday evening in Baltimore on the campus of College of Notre Dame. The host Gators clung to a five-point lead as the two teams prepared for the 160-yard freestyle relay. It was anybody's meet, as the winner would receive seven crucial points.
Senior Katie Day (St. Elmo, Ill.) darted out to an early lead for the Bison (5-7) to set the tone. GU turned to sophomore Katie Johnson and senior Rachel Steingieser (New Market, Md.) for the middle legs. The duo swam well but lost a few seconds to allow the Gators back into the race. The relay came down to the final leg as the Bison turned to all-conference swimmer Carlisle Robinson (Carmel, Ind.) to try and bring home the win. The junior waited on the blocks for Steingieser to finish her leg as she menacingly shook her arms before she dove into the pool. Robinson was able to close the gap for the Bison against the Gators but she was out touched by College of Notre Dame's anchor Melaine Moscoso-Meiller at the wall by a second. The Gators (3-4) grabbed the seven points and won 67-55.
"After Carlisle finished we all just sort of looked at each other, obviously disappointed, but knew we had given it our all," said Gallaudet coach Bill Snape, now in his sixth season. "We competed at a high level. This well help us prepare for the Capital Athletic Conference championships."
Gallaudet fell short of its goal to finish the regular-season with a .500 record for the first time since the 1990-91 season, a streak of 19 years.
The drama filled last race was set-up after Gallaudet freshman Tong Song (Beijing, China) won the 400-yard IM by three tenths of a second to cut the Gators lead to five, 60-55. Song finished the race in 5:25.56 just ahead of College of Notre Dame's Faith Jones (5:25.85).
"That was one of the best 400 individual medleys I have ever seen in my 20 years of coaching," said Snape.
The first-place finish was Song's second in an individual event for the meet. Earlier in the evening, Song won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:18.19. She was also on the first-place 160-yard medley relay team which consisted of Song, Day, junior Misella Tomita (Kahului, Hawaii) and freshman Sara Moore (Charleston, WVa.). Robinson won three individual events including the 200-yard freestyle (2:08.91), 200-yard butterfly (2:35.50) and the 500-yard freestyle (5:47.00), which she won by over 14 seconds. Robinson's win in the butterfly gave Gallaudet a 29-23 lead after six events. Moscoso-Miller and company overtook the Bison two events later as the sophomore won the 100-yard freestyle. GU was within three points, 50-47, after Robinson's performance in the 500-yard freestyle with three events left.
Gallaudet will now have two weeks to prepare for the 2010 CAC swimming championships that will be held on February 12-14, in St. Mary's City, Md., on the campus of St. Mary's (Md.) College.