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WVU concludes Backyard Brawl

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University men’s and women’s swimming teams rounded out the 2021 edition of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt, at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.

After two days of competition, the Mountaineers were handed a pair of losses by the Panthers, as the women fell, 173-127, and the men were defeated by a score of 193-107.

“I was really proud of both teams today,” Mountaineer coach Vic Riggs said. “The women had very strong swims today and really competed as a team. To finish our meet with one of our fastest 400 free relays in dual-meet history certainly shows the fight in this team.

“It also was a very solid day for the men’s team. We ran into a very good Pitt team, and they swam really well. With that said, our team also swam very well. Today was a good start to our season, and we know where we are and what we need to do to get better. We had several lifetime-best times from both teams today, which makes for a great start to our season.”

The women collected five victories on the day, including a pair of wins from sophomore Harna Minezawa and senior Ally VanNetta. Making her Mountaineer debut Thursday, freshman Jordan Buechler also added a victory for the ladies.

The morning was highlighted by back-to-back wins from Buechler and VanNetta to open the session. Buechler earned her first collegiate victory in the 200 freestyle, touching the pads in 1:49.33. VanNetta’s first of two victories came in the 100 backstroke with a time of 55.12, while she grabbed her second win in the 200 back (1:58.61).

Minezawa’s victories came next, as she first led a 1-2 Mountaineer finish in the 50 free, touching the wall in 23.13 to grab first place, just ahead of classmate Emily Haimes in second (23.19). Minezawa also led the charge in the 100 butterfly, earning a first-place, 54.67 finish. Haimes once again followed Minezawa, notching third place in 55.27.

The Mountaineer relay teams grabbed a pair of second-place finishes, competing in the 400 medley and the 400 free relays. VanNetta, sophomore Mathilde Kaelbel, Minezawa and Haimes finished in 1:42.34 in the 400 medley, while Buechler, senior Luisa Winkler, Minezawa and Haimes finished the 400 free in 3:23.93.

For the men’s team, the squad was paced by senior standout David Dixon. Dixon grabbed a pair of wins in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, posting times of 47.84 and 1:44.25 in the respective events. Senior Max Gustafson also grabbed a victory for the men’s team in the 200 freestyle, leading the way with a 1:49.33 finish. He also posted a second-place finish in the 100-yard free.

Additionally, senior Ryen Van Wyk finished in second place in the 50 free (19.80), while Josh Harlan placed second in the 200 back (1:48.95). In the 400 freestyle relay, the team of freshman Roanoke Shirk, Dixon, Gustafson and Van Wyk combined for a time of 2:59.46, good for second place.

A full list of results from Thursday’s meet at Pitt can be found at

The 2021 edition of the Backyard Brawl began on Wednesday, as the two diving squads competed at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park in Morgantown. The Mountaineer divers shined in head diving coach Karla Helder’s WVU debut, notching a pair of program records from junior PJ Lenz and freshman Sara Haggerty and 13 total NCAA Zone-qualifying scores across the three events.

Next up, the women’s team travels to Ames, Iowa, for a Big 12 dual meet at Iowa State on Saturday, January 23. Action from ISU’s Beyer Pool is set to begin at noon E.T.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit and follow WVUSwimDive on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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