NCAC Championships, Day Three

CANTON, Ohio, February 13. THE streak of consecutive event victories for the Denison Big Red women's swimming & diving team came to an end on Saturday night at the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship but, at the end of the night a new streak was born. Denison won 18 of 20 events which resulted in a 246 point victory over second-place Kenyon College. The team title is the third in school history and their second-straight conference title.

The Big Red finished with 1,766 points while Kenyon checked in with 1,520 points. The College of Wooster placed third with 964 points and Wittenberg was fourth with 827 points.

Denison senior Olivia Zaleski (Corry, Pa./Corry Area) became the first three-time recipient of the NCAC's Swimmer of the Year award. For the second straight season, Zaleski won all seven events in which she competed. She posted new meet records in two of those events. In 28 swims at the conference championship since 2007, Zaleski has posted an impressive 19 victories which is second to only Kenyon's Jennifer Carter's 21-wins in terms of career conference titles.

Junior Sammie Salas (Fairfax, Va./Robinson Secondary) swept both the one and three-meter dive contests to pick up her second NCAC Diver of the Year Award. Salas posted a score of 397.95 in Saturday night's one-meter dive to post her fourth conference event title of her career. Joining Salas on the winners podium was first-year head coach Jason Glorius who was named the NCAC's Women's Diving Coach of the Year. Veteran swimming head coach Gregg Parini accepted his eighth Coach of the Year award on the women's side.

As a team, Denison's total number of victories tied Kenyon's 18 wins in 1986 for the most by one team in a single year.

On Saturday night, sophomore Emily Schroeder (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) continued to impress with her fourth championship of the meet and her third NCAC record. She posted a school-record time of 2:00.82 in the 200 backstroke to top teammate Lindsay Zeberlein (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Mountain Vista) by almost five seconds. Zeberlein checked in with an NCAA provisional time of 2:05.15 and Cari Martin (Beavercreek, Ohio/Beavercreek) placed sixth in 2:06.95.

In the 100 freestyle, rookie Alyssa Swanson (Aurora, Colo./Regis Jesuit) racked up her fifth title of the meet with an 'A' cut time of 51.04. Teammate Marit Wangstad (Wayzata, Minn./The Blake School) placed second in 52.21 and senior Kate Rich (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township) also touched with a 'B' cut time of 52.77 which landed her in fourth place.

The night got started off right for DU when sophomore Hilary Callen (Oswego, N.Y./Oswego) repeated as champion in the 1650 freestyle. Callen's time of 16:57.33 was an 'A' cut time and it also bested her performance from last year by over three seconds.

In the final event of the night, the Big Red's 400 free relay team of Zaleski, Wangstad, Rich and Swanson clinched win No. 18 with a time of 3:24.99. DU has won the 400 free relay in three of the last four conference meets.

Denison's streak of 16 straight wins came to a halt in the 200 breaststroke when Kenyon's Alison Vereshchagin posted a time of 2:20.37. Denison's best would come from sophomore three-time winner Gail Blachly (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central). She checked in third with a time of 2:23.77. Freshman Lilla Grisham (Washington Grove, Md./LCI) took sixth and junior Ksenia Golovkina (Newton, Mass./Newton South) placed eighth.

Kenyon would win again in the 200 butterfly when Lauren Brady set a new meet record with a time of 2:03.05. Laurel Brabson (Boonsboro, Md./Boonsboro) was the runner-up with a time of 2:05.62 while Sarah DiNardo (Arlington, Va./Washington Lee) placed sixth and Brenna Broadus (Charlottesville, Va./Western Albemarie) was seventh.

Aside from Denison's 18 titles were the 52 top-8 finishes and 20 'A' cut swims posted by the DU roster.

It was clear that for the Big Red men's swimming & diving team to repeat at this year's North Coast Athletic Conference Championships it would take a number of athletes to step up and rise to the occasion. None may have been bigger than the performances of Denison junior Jake Lewing (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury). The two-time All-American of a year ago won his first NCAC title on Thursday night in the 200 IM and he parlayed that into a total of three titles and two second-place finishes on his way to NCAC Swimmer of the Year honors.

Denison ended up going wire-to-wire to capture their third NCAC Championship in school history and their second in as many years. DU ended up besting second-place Kenyon by 149 points. Overall, DU totaled 1,678 points while Kenyon amassed 1,529 points. Wabash placed third with 815.5 points and Allegheny took fourth with 799 points.

Lewing becomes the seventh athlete from Denison to win the Swimmer of the Year award. Head coach Gregg Parini was awarded the Men's Coach of the Year award for the fifth time.

On Saturday night the Big Red got victories from Lewing in the 200 breaststroke and from sophomore Robert Barry (Richmond, Va./St. Christopher's) in the 200 backstroke. Barry posted his second conference record of the meet with a time of 1:48.49 and Lewing grabbed his third win with a time of 2:03.01. In the 200 backstroke, sophomore Mike DeSantis (Beverly Hills, Mich./Brother Rice) posted a 'B' cut with a time of 1:51.50 which landed him in third place. Andy Brabson (Boonsboro, Md./Boonsboro) and John Nemeth (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) both logged provisional swims with their fifth and seventh place performances, respectively in the 200 breast.

In the final event of the night, the 400 free relay, Chris Bagley (West Bloomfield, Mich./Brother Rice), Mike Barczak (Beverly Hills, Mich./Brother Rice), Andrew Krawchyk (Severna Park, Md./East Chapel Hill) and Dan Thurston (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) placed second to Kenyon with a time of 3:03.38. That same foursome also placed in the top-six in the men's 100 freestyle earlier in the night. Bagley led the group with a runner-up time of 46.44 while Krawchyk placed third in 46.84. Thurston took fourth while Barczak took sixth and rookie Joe Katich (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales) rounded out a stacked finals for DU with a seventh-place finish.

In the first event of the night, sophomore Austin Vierra (Placerville, Calif./Ponderosa) placed third in the 1650 freestyle in 16:06.20 and the 200 butterfly saw Kyle Chabot (Washington, Mich./Stoney Creek) take fifth place and Casey Browning (Grosse Pointe, Mich./South) finish seventh.

In 20 events the Big Red racked up 10 victories which ties for the second-most in school history. Last year DU posted 16 victories which is tied with Kenyon's 2003 squad for most team titles in one championship. In addition to the event wins, DU chalked up 51 top-8 finishes and six NCAA 'A' cuts.

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