By Richie Krzyzanowski
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 6. WOW, is really the only way to describe the start of an already fast and fantastic first day of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships in Birmingham, Ala. The swimmers responded in style during the first night of competition.
Women's 1000 free
Florida Southern freshman Allison Crenshaw won the distance free event in 9:57.29. A pair of West Chester teammates followed her with 2-3 finishes as Lauren Carastro (9:59.40) and Kassandra McNichol (9:59.44) also cleared 10:00.
Crenshaw hung in second place behind McNichol through the first 600 yard before taking off from the field the finale 400 to give her an NCAA title in her first event at the meet. Tampa's Heather Glenday placed fourth in 10:00 out of the earlier heats.
Men's 1000 free
Heading into today, it looked like the men's 1000 would be a dog fight between Nova Southeastern senior Oskar Nordstrand and Incarnate Word senior Mark Rubin. The early hype was just that as Rubin crushed the field with a wire-to-wire win. Rubin was on NCAA-record pace at the 500 with a 4:27.47 split, but fell off a bit en route to an astounding 9:02.85 for the win. Rubin had placed second last year, and one-upped himself this year with the crown. Nordstrand wound up taking fourth overall in 9:13.71, while Queens' Alex Menke (9:09.73) and Drury's Ryan Arabejo (9:11.82) earned second and third-place honors.
Women's 200 IM
Southern Connecticut senior Amanda Thomas accomplished a rare career sweep of the 200-yard IM with a victorious 2:01.21. Thomas had some amazing front half speed to separate herself from the field, pushing herself out to a half-a-second lead at the halfway mark. She was on pace to break her 2012 NCAA D2 record of 2:00.09, but slowed up a bit en route to her triumph. Queens' freshman Caroline Arakelian gave her squad a second straight runner-up finish as she turned in a 2:02.03 for silver. LIU Post's Tamara Garriock clinched third in 2:02.45.
Men's 200 IM
Wayne State sophomore Piotr Jachowicz definitely left a lot of gas in the tank for finals with an easy-speed 1:47.09 during prelims. He turned on the heat during finals, breaking his own NCAA D2 record on the way to the title. He clocked a 1:44.82, under his 1:45.92 record set in February at the GLIAC Championships. Jachowicz led the race from start to finish, posting a blistering breaststroke split of 29.75. Incarnate Word's Evandro Silva produced the second-place time with a 1:46.09, while Florida Southern's Jeffrey Halfacre took third in 1:46.63.
Women's 50 free
Incarnate Word senior Tamiris Nascimento had her hands full in the splash-and-dash, but managed to still touch out Ashland senior Julie Widmann at the wall, 22.76 to 22.79. Widmann had an amazing turn, underwater and breakout to lead the field, but Nascimento summoned a late charge to track her down in the last five years. Fairmont senior Kathryn Saurborn, who had the fastest 25-year split with an 11.03, finished third in 22.99 to also clear 23 seconds. And, in what is turning into the gutsiest performance of the meet, Drury sophomore Wai Ting “Janet” Yu took fifth in 23.38 while swimming on a recently-torn ACL.
Men's 50 free
In another close call, Grand Canyon junior Michael Branning clipped Ouachita's Marcus Schlesinger at the wall, 19.81 to 19.84. Branning, who was the clear favorite heading into today, had his work cut out for him with Schlesinger providing some outside speed having qualified with just a 20.14. Branning had a fantastic start and breakout, but jammed his turn with a half-stroke, which allowed the field time to catch up. After the turn, Schlesinger made his move in the finale 15 yards from lane seven, but just ran out of room in trying to catch Branning. Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez also cleared 20 seconds in the finale with a third-place 19.95 after posting a 19.91 in prelims.
Men's three-meter diving
St. Cloud State's Luke Weber had enough left to pull off the victory with 563.80 points, while Clarion's Heath Calhoun finished second with 558.90 points. Wayne State's Dylan Szegedi claimed third-place honors with 544.65 points.
Women's 200 medley relay
There was little doubt as to who would emerge the winner as Wayne State raced to a winning time of 1:41.52. Sarah Maraskine (25.56), Kayla Scott (27.55), Alexandria Malfroid (25.54) and Ashley Corriveau (22.87) managed to put together the victorious effort. Wingate's Rita Koryukova, Charlotte Cornet, Jasmine Arzadon and Ana Fish placed second in 1:42.58, while Simon Fraser's Kristine Lawson, Mariya Chekanovych, Alexandria Schofield and Nicole Cossey earned third in 1:42.84.
Men's 200 medley relay
Florida Southern's Jeffrey Halfacre (21.99), Miguel Ferreira (23.63), Allan Gutierrez (21.68) and Robert Swan (19.91) put together an NCAA D2 record in the finale with a 1:27.21. That swim bettered the 2009 record of 1:27.25 set by Ouachita Baptist. Grand Canyon's Everton Kida (22.81), Eetu Karvonen (23.61), Ivan Nechunaev (21.47) and Michael Branning (19.34) nearly won the race as well, taking second under the previous mark with a 1:27.23. Bridgeport's Oscar Pereiro, Ruben Gimenez, Artur Pietrzak and Krzysztof Wilk claimed third in 1:27.82.
Women's Top Five
Incarnate Word 60
Simon Fraser 55
Wayne State 55
Men's Top Five
Florida Southern 89
Incarnate Word 85
Grand Canyon 73
Wayne State 73
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