Photo by Joe Bergman
COMMERCE, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2017) – Rookie Thomas Gallup (Houston, Texas / Phillips Exeter Acad.) claimed the 100-200 Breast double for Caltech men's swim & dive on the final day of the 2016-17 SCIAC Championships.
The freshman superstar lowered his own program record and NCAA 'B' cut from the morning preliminary session to a 2:02.11, which currently ranks 12th in all of Division III, giving him another solid chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Once again, he led from start to finish, taking out the first 50 a half-second faster than anyone else and extending his lead beyond two seconds at the penultimate turn before running out of gas but riding his sizable cushion to the easy win.
The Beavers placed sixth as a team with a total of 341 points for their highest finish in over a decade and a mere six points shy of fifth place. The last time Caltech finished as high as sixth came in 1999, when just seven teams competed in the SCIAC, while the Beavers defeated the most teams (three) since 1985-86 and scored their highest point total since 1988-89.
Junior Avikar Periwal (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) scored the first point of the final day for Caltech, placing 18th in the 1650 Free immediately following the prelims in a personal-best 17:19.35. Sophomore Dylan Lu (Kingwood, Texas / Kingwood) then got the finals sessions started with an eighth-place finish in the 200 Back, shaving two seconds off his morning time to lower the program record he set as a rookie last year to 1:53.61 and move up from his ninth seed. Also in the morning session, senior Kyle Seipp (Rockville Centre, N.Y. / Baldwin Senior) dropped more than five seconds in the 100 Free to get under the 1:00 barrier at 58.91, while junior Alexander Bourzutschky (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair), fresh off his Jeopardy College Challenge semifinals victory, shaved four seconds in the 200 Breast to clock a 2:34.23.
Classmate Jonathan Willett (Edina, Minn. / Edina) trimmed his 100 Free time to an impressive 46.27 thanks to splitting the third-fastest back-half of the heat, after which Gallup recorded his historic win and sophomore Adam Dai (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Dos Pueblos) clocked a PR of 2:13.70 to place 18th in the 200 Breast.
The Beavers were represented by another pair in the final individual event as sophomore Henry Steiner (Petaluma, Calif. / Casa Grande) and freshman Alex Moraru (Southlake, Texas / Carroll Senior) had qualified for the finals heat earlier in the day and each lowered their times. Steiner bookeneded an impressive race with the fourth-fastest opening 50 and second-quickest final leg, ultimately dropping a full second from his rookie PR to post a 1:53.80, with Moraru also coming in under Steiner's former record.
The epic closed with the 400 Free Relay and the Beavers looking to catch the University of La Verne in fifth place. The 'B' quartet of Moraru, senior Leon Ding (Blaine, Minn. / Spring Lake Park), Periwal and junior Hanzhi Lin (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) kept that hope alive, out-touching the Leopards by just .05 and clocking the fifth-fastest time in program history. Steiner then led off the 'A' relay with a PR 47.69, followed promptly by Lu in 48.34 and Gallup with a 46.95. Willett closed with the fourth-fastest anchor leg of any relay in a 45.63, nearly running La Verne down as he outsplit his opposing Leopard by more than two seconds but still putting the finishing touch on yet another record at 3:08.61.
In the first year of Head Coach Paul Hughes' tenure, the Beavers set a total of 13 program records, including nine individual marks and four of the five relays. Steiner holds three himself, with Gallup, Lu and Willett each claiming two and Moraru earning one. Gallup and his teammates now will eagerly await news of whether the rookie has qualified for the NCAA Championships, which will be revealed in the next week.