Traveling across the northwest part of the District, the Howard Bison swimmers went to work against the host Georgetown Hoyas as well as the Catholic University of America Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. It marked the first time Howard competed against Georgetown in three seasons, but it renewed the rivalry with Catholic that had been in place for the last decade.
The Bison showed great resolve throughout the competition and, thanks in large part to some outstanding performances from their core group of swimmers, both the men and women each emerged from Georgetown with a team victory. The men earned their first triumph of the season, a nail-biting 103.5-98.5 decision over Catholic while the Lady Bison downed the Lady Cardinals 114 - 87.
Georgetown beat Howard 126-71 on the men's side and 157-74 on the women's side.
Similar to last weekend's thrilling final relay that provided such an intense atmosphere, the men found themselves in the same position, this time with much more at stake. In the 200 freestyle relay, freshman Matthew Wilson, sophomores Trent Popovich (Morro Bay, CA) and Benjamin Skelding and senior Zadok Isaacs stood behind the blocks deadlocked with Catholic on the scoreboard. The winning relay between the two schools would ultimately vault their team into the winners' circle. The Cardinals took the early lead in the relay and held that edge going to the anchor leg. There, Isaacs came roaring back, much like he did last weekend against VMI. The senior touched the wall with an individual split of 21.23, a final relay time of 1:30.70, their fastest mark of the season and a first place finish, 0.29 seconds ahead of the Cardinals.
Isaacs had a remarkable individual day, as well. He could claim four individual victories to accompany his relay victory after taking both the 50 and 100 freestyle over both Georgetown and Catholic. First in the 50 freestyle, Isaacs swam his fastest dual meet time in the event while at Howard with his 21.74. Later in the 100 freestyle, Isaacs used a solid closing 50 to take the event in a time of 47.43, also his fastest dual meet split of his Bison career.
Popovich claimed great success on the afternoon, as well. The sophomore took on the 1000 freestyle for the first time in his Howard career and made quite an impact. His time of 10:36.20 not only beat CUA, but launched him into 5th all-time in HU history for the event. Skelding also notched his second individual victory of the season in the 200 individual medley when he took down the Cardinals with a season-best time of 2:06.49.
Wilson was also part of the opening 400 medley relay that proved to be key in the men's team victory. Combined with sophomore Miles Hector, junior Darell Hungerford and senior Darien Washington, the men bested Catholic with a time of 3:57.26.
Hector and Hungerford would come up big for the Bison in the later part of the competition. Hector cruised through the 500 freestyle with his 5:03.03 en route to beating the Cardinals. Hungerford took control of the 100 breaststroke from the onset and took down all of the Hoyas and Cardinals for a winning time of 1:01.60.
The Lady Bison received contributions from a number of women en route to their second victory in as many weeks. Sophomore Briana Dillon added to her impressive, young career with multiple victories in the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle. First, Dillon's 200 individual medley time of 2:16.37 not only beat Georgetown and Catholic, beat placed her into 5th place all-time at Howard in the event. Later in the 500 freestyle, Dillon vaulted herself again into 5th place all-time for the Lady Bison with a time of 5:25.73. That split finished ahead of CUA.
Dillon lead-off the winning 200 freestyle relay that concluded the meet. Combined with senior E'lan Brewer and juniors Janai Ederaine and Ashley Douglas the ladies rolled to their fourth and fifth victories of the season in that event with a time of 1:41.18, their fastest split this season.
Ederaine swam two of her fastest times of the season in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. Taking down the Lady Cardinals in both events, the junior paced her way to a 2:03.71 in the 200 freestyle and a 1:02.35 in the 100 butterfly. Douglas also gathered two triumphs against Catholic. First in the 50 freestyle, Douglas scored a time of 25.21, her fastest dual meet time of the season. In the 100 freestyle, Douglas' 56.66 was also a dual meet best.
The Lady Bison also received first place marks from junior Camille Dykes and freshman Benta Horton-Gee. Dykes swam her fastest 1000 freestyle split of the season and took down Catholic with a time of 12:02.05. Horton-Gee earned her first collegiate individual victory with her 100 backstroke time of 1:04.97.
That was Howard's final competition for December. The Bison will be back in action just before the spring semester begins on Saturday, January 5 at Towson.