Freshman Jeremie DeZwirek cruises to Ivy League title in 200 yard backstroke

In Columbia Athletics, this week marked the beginning of the spring sports season and the end for most winter team competition. The Men’s Basketball team closed the 2011-2012 season with an emphatic win over Dartmouth on Senior Night at Levien Gymnasium after narrowly losing to Ivy League-leading Harvard on Friday in overtime. Men’s Swimming & Diving placed 3rd overall at the 2012 Ivy League Championship meet, and the Wrestling team competed in their final tournament before the NCAA Championships. As winter sports wind down, Baseball, Softball, Lacrosse, and others kicked off their seasons this week, looking for Ivy League glory in the final season of the academic year.

Columbia Lions Weekly Round-up:

Men’s Basketball (15-15, 4-10 Ivy League):


Harvard 70-77 (OT) L
Dartmouth 61-55 W

Highlights: In front of a sell-out crowd in Levien Gymnasium on Friday, the Lions took on Ivy League-leading Harvard in the second to last game of the season. In addition to the basketball action, fans were scanning the crowd for New York Knicks point guard, Jeremy Lin, who was rumored to make an appearance at Friday’s game. In the first half, there was no sign of Lin, but Spike Lee was spotted sitting next to Lin’s parents, and his arrival seemed imminent. As the basketball action got underway, the Crimson went up early, holding the Lions to single digits after over nine minutes of play, 8-18. Just when Harvard seemed to settle into a double digit lead, the Lions struck back with a number of three pointers to ignite a 14-3 run for the Lions and take the lead for the first time since the opening basket, 22-21. The two teams traded leads once more before entering the break with the Lions trailing by four, 30-34. Shortly into the second half, fans spotted Lin, who had apparently sneaked in around halftime during a timeout. The New York crowd gave Lin a standing ovation and went wild after the timid looking Harvard grad stood up to acknowledge the praise. In the second half, the Crimson maintained a lead over the Lions until a jumper by Brian Barbour followed by a three-pointer from Chris Crockett began an 11-3 run for the Lions, putting Columbia up 45-42 with 13:58 left on the clock. Harvard soon reclaimed the lead, however, and led by six with just four minutes to play. Cory Ostetkowski hit a three from the top of the arc to cut the Crimson lead to three, and Barbour finished the comeback minutes later with a difficult layup to tie the game at 62 with under a minute remaining. Harvard was unable to convert on their final possession, sending the game into overtime. In the extra five minutes of play, the Crimson remained composed and gained a quick lead, while the Lions faltered with a number of turnovers and missteps. After a number of fouls to stop the clock, the Crimson walked away with the overtime victory, 77-70.

On Senior Night on Saturday, the Lions honored four seniors before facing off against Dartmouth. The game started slow with neither team taking a large lead in the first half. The Lions led by as many as four before the break and led at halftime, 23-22, after Brian Barbour hit a jumper at the buzzer. In the second half, the Lions expanded their slim halftime lead and never fell behind the Big Green. As time winded down, Dartmouth began to gain ground on the Lions and with just over two minutes to play, the Big Green cut Columbia’s lead to one, 51-50. Brian Barbour quickly struck back, sinking three-pointer to put the Lions up by four. When the Big Green again came within one, it was Meiko Lyles this time who hit his fourth three of the game to extend the Lions lead and then finished the game off seconds later with a pair of free throws. The Lions tallied their 15th win of the season and 4th Ivy League victory against Dartmouth, 61-55. Congratulations to seniors Chris Crockett, Steve Egee, Matt Johnson, and Blaise Staab, who played their final game as Lions in Levien Gymnasium on Saturday.

The Lions ended the season in 6th place in the Ivy League with an overall record of 15-15.

Women’s Basketball (3-24, 1-12 Ivy League):


Harvard 64-88 L
Dartmouth 52-87 L

Highlights: Against Harvard on Friday, the Lions were slow to start and seemed unable to hit a basket as they watched the Crimson open the game with a 23-3 run. Columbia finally gained traction midway through the half, answering Harvard with a 9-2 run of their own to come within 12, 24-12. However, that would be the closest the Lions would come all day. In the second half, Columbia played Harvard evenly, but the first half deficit proved too much to overcome as the Lions fell 64-88. In the loss, senior Melissa Shafer set a new program record for three-pointers with her 162nd bucket from behind the arc at the 9:53 mark. The former record was set by Emily Roller during her 1995-1999 career.

On Saturday, the Lions took on Dartmouth and fell behind in the first half once again, shooting only 23% from the field before the break. With the Lions only trailing by one, 7-6, the Big Green gained momentum went on a quick 11-2 run. Just as Columbia began to chip away at the lead, Dartmouth mounted another 11-2 run and entered the break up 43-19. In the second half, the Lions stuck with the Big Green and matched them for scoring, but in the end could not make up for the first half deficit. Tyler Simpson led the Lions with 18 points in the 52-87 loss to Dartmouth.

Up Next: The Lions finish off the 2011-2012 season at Cornell on Tuesday.

Men’s Swimming & Diving:


The Lions finish 3rd overall at Ivy League Championship

Highlights: At Princeton this weekend, the Men’s Swimming & Diving team finished third overall for the third year straight behind champions Princeton and runners-up Harvard. During Day One, the Lions earned 231 points, led by a number of top three finishes and ended the day in fifth place. In the 50 freestyle, freshman Daniel Gosek finished second with an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 20.27, and in the 1m diving, junior Jason Collazo placed second in the ‘B’ final and Micah Rembrandt placed just behind in third. On Day Two, the Lions moved up to third place overall, led by freshman Omar Arafa who captured the Ivy League title 100 yard backstroke with a NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 47.35. Senior Rob Eyckmans with a second place finish in the 400 IM and taking fourth in 100 breaststroke, making NCAA ‘B’ cut times in both events. The Lions climbed up the standings on day two with depth across many events, often taking two of the top five spots in an event. On Day Three, the Lions captured their second Ivy League title of the meet when freshman Jeremy DeZwirek took the top spot in the 200 yard backstroke. Arafa also continued to find success in the championship, taking second in the 100 yard freestyle and helping the teak of Gosek, Dominik Coll, and John Write to a second place finish in 400 yard freestyle relay to cap the Ivy League Championship and the 2011-2012 season.

Wrestling (8-5, 3-2 Ivy League):


Steve Santos, Jake O’Hara, and Kevin Lester earn auto-bids to NCAA Championships

Highlights: At the EIWA Championships, three Lions earned auto-bids to the NCAA Championships and the team tallied 76.5 points to put them in sixth place overall heading into the final afternoon. At 149, Santos took fourth place with the top six wrestlers earning NCAA bids. Similarly, at 157, the top six wrestlers earn bids and O’Hara finished fifth after beating Lehigh’s Biran Tanen, 6-5. It will be the first trip to the NCAA for both Lions. Heavyweight Lester finished third to earn his second straight ticket to the NCAA’s. His first match of the day also marked Lester’s 100th win for the Lions in an outstanding career.

Up Next: The action continues this afternoon at the EIWA Championships.

Women’s Lacrosse (1-2, 0-1 Ivy League):


American 7-14 L
Mount St. Mary’s 14-5 W
Brown 10-14 L

Highlights: After beating Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday, the Lions opened Ivy League play against Brown on Saturday at Robert K. Kraft Field. Columbia got on the board first within the first two minutes with a goal from junior Kacie Johnson. The Bears responded with two quick goals just minutes later to put them ahead 2-1. Not discouraged, the Lions matched the Bears with two goals of their own less than a minute apart, but Brown struck back with a 3-0 run and entered the break up 7-4. Freshman Stevie Wells started off the half with a quick goal for the Lions to cut the deficit to two, but Brown answered with four straight goals in four minutes to extend the lead to 11-5. Columbia tallied five more goals in the game, but failed to make up the difference, falling 14-10.

Up Next: The Lions head to Ithaca, NY to take on Cornell next Saturday.

Baseball (0-2):


The Citadel 4-1 L
The Citadel 2-0 L

Highlights: The Lions opened the 2012 season with the first of four games against The Citadel, beginning on Thursday. The Bulldogs got on the board first after a leadoff single and double from the first two batters followed a sacrifice fly to bring home the run. The Lions answered in the top of the second, when senior Alex Aurrichio crushed his first pitch down right field line for a leadoff triple. Eric Williams followed up with a groundout RBI to tie the game at 1. The Citadel’s Austin Pritcher and three relief pitchers made the difference in the final innings as the Lions were held to one run. The Bulldogs went on to win the first game of the weekend 4-1.

The Lions returned to action on Saturday, but the game was cut short due to rain. In the opening six innings, The Citadel’s James Reeves shut out the Lions and allowed only three hits. Junior right-hander Stefan Olson allowed only two runs in 5 1/3 innings, but that proved to be the difference in the game.

Up Next: Due to rain, the Lions play a doubleheader against The Citadel today.

Softball (1-3):


Louisiana Tech 5-4 W
Mississippi State 1-11 L
Mississippi State 4-12 L
Samford 1-13 L

Highlights: At the Mississippi State Bulldog Classic this weekend, the Lions faced Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, and Samford, and came out with one win. Against Louisiana Tech on Friday, the Lions rallied from three runs down to win their opening game of the 2012 season. Down 4-3, Liz Caggiano hit the game-winning two-RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to hand the Lions the victory. Against Mississippi State, Kayla Shimoda scored after drawing a leadoff walk to put the Lions up 1-0. Mississippi State responded with eleven straight runs to stun the Lions 11-1 in the second game of the weekend. The second game against Mississippi State unfolded much like the first, with the Lions gaining more traction during the game, but unable to match the home team, falling 12-4. Samford proved to be another formidable opponent for the Lions. After scoring the first run, Samford went on to tally 13 unanswered runs and win the game in five innings.

Up Next: The Lions play three against Towson.

Saturated glory courtesy of Columbia Athletics