HOUSTON, Texas, March 14.THE Drury Panthers completed a special run during a historic NCAA Division II Championships held in Houston, Texas.
Drury's 543 points in the men's meet extended its national-title streak to five years in a row, including six of the last seven national crowns. The victory gave Drury its seventh title overall as the squad won its first national title in 1999. Wayne State wound up second with 504.5 points, which is the best ever in program history. In its previous 30 years of existence, Wayne State's best finish had been third back in 2005.
Missouri S&T clinched third-place honors with 320.5 points for its sixth top-five finish ever, while Limestone garnered fourth with 279.5 points during its second year at the Division II level. Last year, Limestone earned ninth overall. Ouachita Baptist snagged the final top-five spot with 259 points – its third top-five effort after fourth-place finishes in 2006 and 2008.
Wingate (230), UC San Diego (221.5), Tampa (199), Grand Valley State (191) and West Chester (172) completed the top 10.
The Drury women moved to within one national team title of Truman State for the right to be called the most dominant women's program in NCAA Division II history. Truman holds seven national titles, while Drury's 618.5 points gave it a sixth crown.
Wayne State's 453.5 points gave it a runner-up finish – the best in program history after taking sixth last year. UC San Diego took third overall with 425 points, while Truman State placed fourth with 333 points. West Chester completed the top five with 233 points for its seventh top-five finish in program history.
Ouachita Baptist (223), Clarion (210.5), Saint Cloud State (158), Grand Valley State (153.5) and Henderson State (146) rounded out the top 10 among the women.
The final night of competition began with Drury's Erin Dolan downing Wayne State's Ashley St. Andrew, 16:40.18 to 16:44.84, in the women's 1650-yard free. Meanwhile, Drury's Mitch Snyder just missed becoming the first sub-15:00 man in Division II history with a sterling time of 15:00.51 to crush the division record in the men's 1650-yard free. The previous record had been a 15:07.80 set by Rodrigo Cintra of North Dakota in 2002. Tampa's Chris O'Linger wound up second in 15:09.90.
In the much quicker sprint 100 frees, Drury's Jing Hua touched out West Chester's Jackie Borkowski and Drury's Eunate Garro, 49.82 to 49.84 and 49.88, as the trio broke 50 seconds in the women's race. Loni Burton's division record of 49.33 survived the run. However, Ben Michaelson's men's standard of 43.34 set in 2003 for Southern Connecticut State did not. UC San Diego's Dan Perdew eked by the record with a 43.30 for the men's title. Drury's Yiwen Huang (43.52) and Limestone's Craig Jordens (43.54) took second and third.
Three swimmers cleared the division record of 1:58.38 set by Nebraska-Omaha's Ali Petersen in 2002 in the women's 200-yard back. Drury's Yuan Qing Li claimed the title in 1:57.48, while Drury's Janelle Slattery (1:57.63) and Ouachita Baptist's Sarah Watson (1:58.22) completed the podium.
Wayne State's Sean Smith lowered his own division record in the men's 200 back with a swift time of 1:44.89. The performance made Smith the first sub-1:45 man in the division by dropping his old record of 1:45.10 set in Ypsilanti, Mich., in December. Minnesota's Marty Wahle (1:45.38) and Drury's Alex Protsenko (1:47.07) wound up second and third.
UC San Diego's Kendall Bohn earned the women's 200-yard breast crown in 2:15.55, while Kutztown's Stephanie Jeppesen took second in 2:16.99. Drury's Abbey Musch touched third in 2:17.42.
With early favorite Alex Hetland of Tampa drawing a disqualification during prelims, Missouri S&T's Zlatan Hamzic walked right through the open door of opportunity with a winning time of 1:58.03 in the men's 200-yard breast. Hamzic came up shy of the division-record time of 1:57.79 set by Drury's Jakub Jiracek in 2006. Drury's Jesse Lawrence placed second in 2:00.85, while Incarnate Word's Blake McKay finished third in 2:01.27.
During the final diving event of the year, Clarion's Kayla Kelosky captured the women's three-meter crown with 456.75 points. St. Cloud's Kelsey Berkeland took second with 446.05 points, while Wayne State's Cassie Chetsoky and Drury's Lauren Bader tied for third with 418.70 points each.
Drury's Jing Hua, Kelsey Ward, Li and Garro concluded a national team-title run for their squad with a division-record effort of 3:21.28 in the women's 400-yard free relay. The performance erased the 3:22.82 that Truman State set back in 2003. The effort also clinched a 4-for-5 run for the Drury women in relay action as the team claimed four relay event titles while setting all five division records. Drury was disqualified on the first day from finals in the 200-yard medley relay, but finished prelims with a division record.
The Drury men's team of Sergiy Bilov, Gil Panchoo, Chris Kohler and Huang finished the 2009 NCAA Division II Championships in style with a division-record time of 2:56.63. The clocking beat the preliminary standard of 2:56.67 set by Drury this morning, which in turn broke the 2:58.04 set by Limestone last month in Charlotte, N.C. Limestone (2:57.10), Wingate (2:57.22), Wayne State (2:57.34) and Ouachita Baptist (2:57.66) all eclipsed the previous record. By the end of the meet, every relay division record fell by the wayside.