Cardinals Rally For Second Place at Landmark Championships

Photo Courtesy of David Sinclair
Photo Courtesy of David Sinclair

BOYDS, Md. - The Catholic University women's swimming & diving team rallied to take second place in the 2019 Landmark Conference Championships, finishing with 662 points during the weekend at the Germantown Indoor Swim Center. The Cardinals beat the University of Scranton by one point (661) and finished behind the league champions, Susquehanna University, who finished with 779 points.

Senior Valerie Sander got things started for the women in the 1650-freestyle miler event in which Catholic placed three in the top eight. Her 18:10.33 time was good enough for the bronze medal, and freshman Kelly Smith followed close behind for a fourth place finish (18:22.25). Junior Elizabeth Spernal contributed 13 points of her own in her sixth place finish (18:34.12).

Sophmore Caroline Beal earned another bronze medal for the team in the following 200-back event. She swam 2:09.61, and then freshman Bridget Roach (2:14.70) took second in the consolation final to take 11th overall. 

Fellow freshman phenom Angela Castano grabbed points for the Cardinals in the 100-freestyle sprint, swimming 54.23 for fourth place. Freshman Megan Leibfreid took eighth (55.74), and senior Rachael Zarlinski finished first in her consolation final (55.22) after losing in a swim-off for the A-final. 

At the end of the evening's events, Castano was recognized as the Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year after a stellar freshman season. The Allentown, Pa. native scored points in the sprint events and relays all year long for the Cardinals, and even set a school record in the 50-free (24.25) on the first night of championships Friday. 

Freshman Cagney Boyle (2:33.23) and sophomore Molly Donnellan (2:33.25) finished just two one-hundreths of a second apart in the 200-breast, touching for fifth and sixth place to earn 27 points. Senior Emily Messina represented Catholic in the 200-butterfly final, finishing seventh with a 2:18.92 time. Junior Emily Tighe took ninth after touching first in the B-final (2:21.60). 

Heading into the final event of the evening, the 400-freestyle relay, the Cardinals were neck-and-neck with Scranton for second place. Susquehanna took first in the relay, and Catholic did what it needed to do with a fourth place finish at 3:40.51. Leibfreid, Castano, Zarlinksi, and Beal teamed up to earn 30 crucial points that pushed the Cardinals into second by just one point. 

Following the meet, the team cheered on head coach Paul Waas and his assistant Emily Rollo, as they were honored as the Landmark Conference men's swimming coaching staff of the year.