Assistant Sports Editor
The Big Red men’s and women’s swim and dive teams each captured their seventh North Coast Athletic Conference titles at the NCAC Championships held at Trumbull Aquatics Center, Feb. 12-15.
After slow start, women defeat Kenyon, 1839-1805
The conference championship started out as an uphill battle for the women. The Big Red trailed Kenyon by 40 points at the conclusion of Thursday night’s session and then brought their deficit down to 26 points heading into the final day of competition on Feb. 15. In that day the women defeated the Kenyon Lords 1839-1805.
The Big Red women won seven total events, set one meet record and totaled 21 All-NCAC finishes to defeat Kenyon for the sixth year in a row.
“It was a great feeling winning conference,” Ashley Yearwood ’16 said. “I honestly couldn’t describe the emotions we all felt. Coming off of an extremely emotional week and then going on to win Conference created emotions that I could not explain.”
Natalie Lugg ’14 became the eighth person from Denison to earn Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning both the 200 IM and the 2000-breaststroke with times of 2:03.06 and 2:17.40, respectively. Lugg’s time in the 200 IM was a new NCAC record while her 200-breaststroke time gave her a NCAA ‘B’ cut time. In addition to her two first place finishes, the senior also finished second in the 100-breaststroke (1:03.38) and swam the breaststroke legs on the second-place 200 medley (1:43.26) and 400 medley (3:47.42) relay teams.
The Big Red also posted top finishes in the 200 freestyle relay, 400 IM, 200 backstroke and 200 fly. The foursome of Carolyn Kane ’17, Yearwood, Claire Van Fossen ’16 and Morgan Nuess ’14 captured the 200 freestyle relay with a NCAA ‘B’ cut performance and season best time of 1:32.93. Michelle Howell ’15 defended her title in the 400 IM (4:24) while Molly Willingham ’14 won the 200-backstroke with a season-best ‘B’ cut time of 2:02.24. Howell also captured the 200 fly title with a time of 2:05.13.
The women’s divers bolstered the team’s performance on the final night. The Big Red’s three freshmen divers went 3-4-6 in the 1-meter board. Sarah Lopez ’17 came in third with 369.70 while Morgan Christman ’17 followed in fourth with 365.85 and Carrie Bookheimer in sixth (351.15). Bookheimer also placed third in the 3-meter board on the second night of competition with an 11-dive score of 358.
Several women traveled to Kenyon College this past weekend to compete for the final time in the hopes of achieving NCAA ‘B’ cuts and qualifying for the NCAA Championships in March.
Tully Bradford ’14 improved upon her time in the 200-freestyle twice. The senior won her first race in a time of 1:52.51 and then later won a 200 freestyle time trial in 1:51.91. She also swam to a season best time of 51.96 in the 100 freestyle. Libby Dalziel ’16 posted a season best ‘B’ cut of 2:02.38 in the 200 backstroke. Teammate Lucy Roth ’15 came in second with a qualifying time of 2:05.17.
Howell posted a ‘B’ cut in the 100 fly with a time of 57.07. Krysta Garbarino ’16 swam a 2:04.80 in the 200 fly time trials and Rima Jurjus ’15 touched the wall in 23.73 in the 50 freestyle to earn her first NCAA provisional qualifying time of the year. Christman placed second in the 1-meter dive with 432.45 to earn her second ‘B’ cut of the year, qualifying her for the NCAA Diving Regional which will be held at Trumbull Aquatics Center this weekend, Feb. 28-March 1.
Men claim first NCAC Championship home win, Dignan shatters diving national records
The men edged Kenyon 1898.5 points to 1851 to take the conference championship for the sixth year in a row. It was the first time in program history that the men were successfully able to defend their crown at home.
The Big Red won nine events en route to their 44.5-point victory over Kenyon. The men also earned 19 All-NCAC finishes and set two conference records.
The meet was highlighted by junior diver Connor Dignan’s two national records in the men’s 1-meter board and 3-meter board dives. Dignan kicked off the championships by crushing the national record in the 3-meter board with a score of 645.70. The junior followed that performance up two days later with a record-breaking score of 578.70 in the 1-meter dive. The junior was named NCAC Men’s Diver of the Year for his accomplishments.
“I was a little shocked after I first broke the record in prelims,” Dignan said. “I hadn’t realized how close I was until my last dive. Holding the national records on both boards has been a goal of mine since freshman year; it was a lot to take in all at once, especially since I didn’t expect it. When I broke it again in finals, it was a much more satisfying and complete accomplishment. Being able to do it once was great, but doing it twice gave me the confirmation of really owning it.”
Dignan’s teammates finished 2-6 in the 3-meter board. Ben Lewis ’16 finished with a score of 538.25, followed by Max Levy ’17 (528.45), Brian Allen ’17 (489.70), Nathan Lightman ’16 (431.80) and Matt Poulos ’14 (429.25). Levy finished in second to Dignan in the 1-meter board with an 11-dive score of 555.50. Levy’s mark eclipsed the old school record.
The divers will compete at the NCAA Diving Regional this weekend.
“Our men’s divers are looking very strong,” Dignan said. “I have no doubt that each and every one of them has the capability of qualifying for nationals and to go on to score in Indianapolis. I think it’s going to be a great conclusion to our season.”
The Big Red won seven of their nine event wins in the pool. Carlos Maciel ’14 broke his own meet record in the 200 IM with a time of 1:49.67 in the preliminaries and then went on to edge teammate Jackson Humphrey ’14 1:49.71 to 1:49.72 in the finals. Maciel also paired up with Ryan Fleming ’16, Conrad Wuorinen ’16 and Damon Rosenburg ‘15 to take first in the 200 freestyle relay. The men posted a time of 1:21.19. Wuorinen recorded the fastest 50-free split with a time of 19.71.
Fleming won the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.45, with Wuorinen came in second.
Wuorinen said that the loss of David Hallman ’14 served as motivation for the swimmers. “Losing Dave was a huge hit for the team,” Wuorinen said. “It emotionally drained each and every one of us, making it harder to perform during the meet. The team did a great job stepping up and trying to leave a legacy in the name of Dave.”
Rosenburg won the 100-breastroke for the third straight year, breaking his own meet record with a time of 54.66. The junior set the national record in the event (53.61) in December at the Miami Invitational. Al Nennig ’17 came in third in the event with a time of 56.23. Rosenburg teamed with Spencer Fronk ’14, Wuorinen, and Fleming to win the 200-medley relay in a time of 1:30.17. Maciel took home the win in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:38.43. Fleming, Wuorinen, Fronk and Maciel swam to a second place finish in 2:59.71 in the 400 free relay to solidify their win and finish off this year’s edition of the NCAC Championships.
The Big Red earned eight NCAA provisional qualifying time marks at the Kenyon Last Chance Invitational this past weekend. Humphrey posted a ‘B’ cut time of 4:32.98 in the 500 freestyle, Nathan Thorne ’16 earned a ‘B’ cut in the 400 (4:01.06) while Dan Hellman ’15 posted a time of 1:50.41 in the 200 butterfly. Maciel recorded season-best cut times in the 100 breaststroke (57.65) and the 100 fly (49.33). Ben Snader posted a season best time of 57.69 in the 100 breaststroke. PJ Fallon ’16 and Gus Evans ’17 earned the team’s final ‘B’ cut times. Fallon touched the wall in 15:33.85 in the 1650 freestyle and Evans won the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:02.93.
The NCAA Division III Championships take place March 19 to March 22 in Indianapolis, Ind.