By Richie Krzyzanowski
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 7. TONIGHT at the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships was filled with great races along with great records. It truly was an exhilarating session with all swimmers and coaches on deck making a push towards an NCAA team title.
UC San Diego made a huge move on the women's side, jumping to third with 171.5 points as Drury (237.5) and Wayne State (180) hold first and second with Wingate fourth with 145.5 points. Grand Canyon's men catapulted from fourth to sole possession of second with 184 points, while Drury still has a hefty lead with 258 points. Florida Southern (176), Incarnate Word (174) and Wayne State (139) are among the top five.
Women's 200 free relay
Ashland's Julie Widmann (22.60), Kaylyn Murphy (22.76), Rachel Ausdenmoore (23.43) and anchor leg Gabriela Verdugaluz (23.41) won the title with a 1:32.20, just .20 seconds off the NCAA D2 record of 1:32.00 set by Drury in 2009. Widmann turned in a talented leadoff leg with a time that would have won the individual 50-yard free title last night. Wayne State's Ashley Corrieveau, Ana Azambuja, Kayla Scott and Ellyson Maleski made a push, but came up short with a 1:32.69, while Grand Canyon's Catherine Polito, Rebecca Coan, Stacey Rudman and Mychala Lynch were in the thick of it as well with a 1:32.72. The top five teams all posted 1:32s with UC San Diego (1:32.76) and Drury (1:32.79) also having a shot at the title. Drury even called upon ACL-less Wai Ting “Janet” Yu as their second, and fastest, leg with a 22.74.
Men's 200 free relay
Another close call occurred in the men's 200 free relay with Drury's preliminary NCAA D2 record standing up in the finale. Drury's Nick McCarthy (20.27), Samuel Olson (19.80), Olexandr Padalkin (19.74), and Vladimir Sidorkin (19.50) just missed their prelim time of 1:19.20 with a winning 1:19.32. Grand Canyon's Michael Branning (19.98), Kyle Shores (19.89), Tanner Brotherton (19.94), and Taylor Turner (19.85) gave Drury nearly all it could handle with a second-place 1:19.66, while Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez (20.15), Oscar Pereiro (19.86), Vladislav Paskas (20.36), and Krzysztof Wilk (19.86) placed third in 1:20.21.
In the consolation final, Ouachita Baptist's Marcus Schlesinger crushed the leadoff leg with a 19.77, which would have won the individual title last night in the 50-yard free.
Women's 400 IM
Queens' Caroline Arakelian became her program's first NCAA titlist with a dominant effort in the distance medley. She clocked a 4:17.51, starting with a strong butterfly leg to keep with the pack. She then turned it loose in the backstroke and breaststroke legs to put open water behind her. 200 IM champ Amanda Thomas made a late push in the breaststroke leg to try to catch Arakelian, but wound up fading to third in 4:20.54. Nova Southeastern's Lauren Chapple slipped into second with a 4:19.75.
Men's 400 IM
Wayne State's Piotr Jachowicz became the first swimmer to win a pair of individual titles this week. After taking down the 200 IM last night, Jachowicz swept the IMs with an NCAA D2 record 3:47.62 in the 400-yard edition — his second such record in as many nights. He crushed the previous record of 3:49.17 set by Drury's Kyrillo Fesenko in 2009. Jachowicz is the early leader for Swimmer of the Meet honors after winning two tiles with two NCAA D2 records. Wingate's Marko Blazevski won the race for second with a 3:50.12 as no one had a chance at catching Jachowicz this evening. Saint Leo freshman Pawel Trenda turned in a 3:51.96 to place third overall.
Women's 100 fly
Grand Canyon senior Mychala Lynch defended her title in the 100-yard fly with a winning time of 54.31. Alaska Fairbanks' Margo Adams followed her with a second-place time of 54.63, while LIU Post's Joyce Kwok claimed third in 55.21.
Kwok looked like the heavy favorite heading into tonight with a full-second lead out of prelims. However, once finals hit the experience and race strategy of Lynch came to the forefront. Kwok went out fast, hitting the wall in 25.01 at the 50, leading by half-a-second as Lynch turned at 25.50. Lynch's superior underwaters, however, proved to be the key down the stretch as she closed the gap at the 75 to 39.41 to 39.64 before powering past Kwok with a sizzling 14.67 final split.
Men's 100 fly
Ouachita Baptist's Marcus Schlesinger, who already demonstrated his ridiculous speed with his relay leadoff earlier in the night, won his first NCAA title with a 47.54. Grand Canyon's Ivan Nechunaev (47.73), Drury's Stanislav Kuzmin (47.84) and Grand Valley's Michael Griffith (47.85) placed second through fourth. Schlesinger swam the race intelligently as he pushed out to a big lead heading into the final 25 yards, then held on as the rest of the field mounted a comeback.
Women's 200 free
UC San Diego junior Anjali Shakya had a special night as she clocked a 1:47.95 to win the event. She nearly took down one of the older records on the books — Loni Burton's 1:47.10 from 2005 for CSU Bakersfield. Shakya controlled the race through 125 yards, until Drury's Tiffany Bell put some heat on Shakya down the stretch. The winner never backed down, and dug deep for the win as she powered to victory. Wingate's Kathryn Phiel used a phenomenal final 25-yard push with a 27.52 to move into a tie with Bell with matching 1:48.53s. Shakya finished second last year, and moved up the ladder for her crowning moment as a victor.
Men's 200 free
Drury's Vladimir Sidorkin prevailed in the men's 200 free with a winning time of 1:35.76, coming up shy of Wayne State's Andrey Seryy's 2012 NCAA D2 record of 1:35.05. Sidorkin went out hard, but had some company as Florida Southern's Luis Rojas drafted off his lane line for a 100 yards. Rojas kept up with Sidorkin until the final 25 yards, when Sidorkin made his move with a 25.13 final 25 yards. Rojas faded a bit, but still held onto second with a 1:36.48. Wayne State's Kristian Larsen charged home with a 24.80 to take third in 1:37.70.
Women's one-meter diving
Wayne State's Paige Kortman won the diving title for the night with 468.60 points. Meanwhile, Incarnate Word's Kali Lents took second with 452.45 points, while NMU's Molly Kearney placed a close third with 452.35 points.
Women's 400 medley relay
LIU Post's Johanna Pettersson (55.74), Tamara Garriock (1:02.48), Joyce Kwok (54.09) and Meghan Brazier (50.17) took home the team title with a 3:42.48 keyed by Kwok's sterling butterfly leg. Post stood second throughout much of the first half of the race before Kwok powered them into contention. Simon Fraser's of Kristine Lawson (56.84), Chekanovych (1.00.95), Alexdria Schofield (56.06) and Nicole Cossey (50.30) placed second in 3:44.15, while Drury's squad finished third in 3:44.25.
Men's 400 medley relay
Grand Canyon ended the night on a high note with an NCAA D2 record as Everton Kida (49.01), Eetu Karvonen (51.98), Ivan Nechunaev (47.43) and Kyle Shores (43.51) clinched the title with a 3:11.93. That win got the monkey off GCU's back a bit as it was able to finally win a relay after many second-place finishes during the past three years. The performance beat the 2012 NCAA D2 record of 3:12.43 set by Florida Southern. Florida Southern's Luis Rojas (48.24), Miguel Ferreira (52.20), Allan Gutierrez (48.34) and Robert Swan (43.66) took second in 3:12.44, just missing the previous record as well. Drury rounded out the podium with a third-place 3:12.97.
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Women's Top Five
Wayne State 180
UC San Diego 171.5
LIU Post 124
Men's Top Five
Grand Canyon 184
Florida Southern 176
Incarnate Word 174
Wayne State 139