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Wildcats Finish Strong At Big East Championships

Feb. 22, 1998

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - At the 1998 Big East Swimming and Diving Championships held at the University of Pittsburgh, the Villanova women's swimming and diving team used a strong fourth day on Saturday, Feb. 21, to finish in second place with 546 points behind Big East Champion Notre Dame who ended the four-day championships with 740.50 points. The Wildcat men's team finished in sixth place with 279 points, behind Pittsburgh (657.50), Syracuse (558), Miami (525.50), Notre Dame (376) and Connecticut (366).

The Saturday competition was yet another outstanding day for the Villanova women, who took home three more Big East titles to give them a four-day total of seven. Junior Jackie Gruters started the day off with a victory in the 200 yard backstroke, taking the Big East title with a time of 2:00.93. The Wildcats' second individual victory came in the 100 yard freestyle, where junior Liz Lauwaert swam to victory in 50.75. The Villanova 400 yard relay freestyle team also added to the day's festivities, winning the Big East Championship with a time of 3:24.92.

On Friday, Feb. 20, Villanova took home two Big East titles, with freshman Katie Armitage winning the 400 yard individual medley and sophomore Julie Lapinski swimming to victory in the 100 yard backstroke (56.09). The Wildcats were led by yet another freshman on Thursday, Feb. 19, when Kristen Olson won the Big East title in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 23.22. Villanova's first Big East title came in the championship's first day, when the Wildcat 200 yard freestyle relay team composed of junior Kristin Stretanski, freshman Danielle Macejka, Gruters and Olson swam to victory in a time of 1:33.28.

With its second place finish, the Villanova women's swimming and diving team improved upon their third place finish of one season ago. Prior to the 1997 season, the Wildcats had won five consecutive Big East Championships.

Taking home a sixth place finish at the Big East Championships for the second straight season, the Villanova men's swimming and diving team had several outstanding individual performances over the four-day event. On Thursday, Feb. 19, senior Jarad Lucan finished in third place in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 20.67. On the same day, fellow senior Gus Membiela finished in fourth place swimming a time of 1:51.59 in the 200 yard individual medley.

Sophomore Vince Allegra was outstanding throughout the four-day championship event, taking a fourth place finish in the 200 yard freestyle (1:39.55) on Friday, Feb. 20 and a fourth place finish in the 100 yard freestyle (45.49) on Saturday, Feb. 21.

After ending the Big East Championship's first day in fourth place, the Villanova women picked up two spots in the championships' final three days to end their team season with a second place Big East finish. The Villanova men, who ended the championship's first day in fifth place, used consistent swimming throughout to maintain a sixth place finish out of 13 teams.