GAMBIER, Ohio, December 5. DAY two of the Nike Invitational turned into an impressive showcase for the Kenyon College men’s swimming team. In Friday’s action, the Lords broke four Kenyon Aquatic Center (KAC) pool records, won six of the eight contested events, and racked up nine NCAA Championship automatic qualifying times.
Thanks to its outstanding efforts, Kenyon erased a 46-point deficit from day one and bumped Division I University of Pennsylvania from first place in the team standings. However, the Lords and Quakers remain neck-and-neck heading into Saturday’s final day of competition with Kenyon in the lead by just four points, 767.5-763.5. It will be a two-team race for the Nike Invitational title as Davidson College (222 pts.) sits a distant third, followed by Carnegie Mellon University (219 pts.), Johns Hopkins University (159 pts.), and Colgate University (142 pts.).
The records started to fall in the morning preliminaries when junior Douglas Huguenard (Louisville, KY/Dupont Manual Magnet) posted the fastest time in the 200-yard butterfly. Huguenard’s 1:49.48 finish was the quickest in KAC history and gave the Lords their first championship qualifying time of the day. Huguenard settled for second-place in the finals when Penn’s Jack Wiese edged him to the wall by two-tenths of a second.
Kenyon kicked off its evening by shredding the pool record in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Junior Blair Withington (Hastings, New Zealand/Hastings Boys’), sophomore Michael Mpitsos (Newport, OR/Newport), and freshmen David Somers (North Potomac, MD/Quince Orchard) and Zachary Turk (Strongsville, OH/St. Edward) stopped the clock in 1:20.72 to not only clear the former pool record, but also the NCAA ‘A’ cut time.
Junior David Lazarus (Moens, France/Foundation of International) was the Lords’ next record-slayer in the 100-yard breaststroke. Lazarus’ 55.55 showing was nearly a second under the pool’s previous top time, bested the automatic qualifying standard, and eclipsed Davis Zarins’ three-year-old College record (55.62) in the event.
Mpitsos, Lazarus, and Withington returned to the water alongside junior Nat Carruthers (Longmont, CO/Shining Mountain) in the final event of the evening, the 400-yard medley relay. The quartet’s performance was simply dominating. Their time of 3:17.62 was four seconds faster than the Quakers’ second-place squad, five seconds under the previous pool record, and easily worthy of an ‘A’ cut.
Mpitsos didn’t stop there, though. In his two solo swims of the night, he took first place in the 100-yard backstroke (49.79) and the 50-yard freestyle (20.48) with both times good enough to earn him two more bids to the NCAA Championship meet.
Kenyon picked up its final event win of the day courtesy of freshman Blake Preston’s (New Rochelle, NY/New Rochelle) time of 1:38.76 in the 200-yard freestyle. Preston brought home an ‘A’ cut for the performance, as did senior Michael Machala (Twin Falls, ID/Twin Falls) who finished third in the event (1:39.74).
Sophomore Nathaniel Smith (Knoxville, TN/Central) capped the highlights with his second automatic qualifying time of the weekend. Smith sped through the 400-yard individual medley with a second-place time of 3:59.82.
For the women, the Kenyon College women’s swim team moved up one spot in the Nike Invitational standings, but the team from the University of Kansas made an even bigger move. By the conclusion of Friday night’s session, the Jayhawks piled up 750.5 points and soared from fifth place to first. The host Ladies held down second place with 485.5 points and the University of Pennsylvania was third with 371 points.
The Jayhawks pulled no punches Friday, the second day of the three-day Invitational. The Kansas women won all eight events contested and established new Kenyon Aquatic Center pool records in every one of those events.
Despite the large margin in the standings, Kenyon never backed down from the Jayhawks. Wearing new technical suits, the Ladies rang up two Kenyon records. Senior Tracy Menzel (Greencastle, IN/Greencastle) was the first to do so, as she erased her old 100-yard breaststroke mark of 1:03.57 and replaced it with a second-place time of 1:02.94.
The other Ladies’ record came in the final event of the night. The 400-yard medley relay team of Tina Ertel (Halle, Germany/Sportgymnasium Halle), Menzel, Danielle Arad (Yorba Linda, CA/Tarbut V’Torah) and Brittany Hurd (Orange Village, OH/Orange) placed second and set the new Kenyon standard at 3:46.87.
While those times were undoubtedly NCAA automatic qualifiers, the Ladies did not stop there. Other KC swimmers who stockpiled ‘A’ cuts were sophomore Lauren Brady (Tyngsboro, MA/Phillips Exeter) in the 200-yard butterfly (2:05.25) and 400-yard individual medley (4:26.24), sophomore Kaitlyn Meirs (Cream Ridge, NJ/Peddie) in the 200-yard freestyle (1:52.36) and the 400-yard individual medley (4:26.24), freshman Alisa Vereshchagin (Solon, OH/Solon) in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.21), Arad in the 200-yard freestyle (1:52.44), and Ertel in the 100-yard backstroke (56.72) and 200-yard freestyle (1:51.18).
Kenyon senior Elizabeth Carlton (Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne Central) placed third in the 50-yard freestyle and turned in another NCAA automatic qualifying time of 23.69. If that wasn’t enough, the Ladies started the whole thing off with their first ‘A’ cut of the evening in the session-opening 200-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Meghan Quinn (Lighthouse Point, FL/Pine Crest Carlton), Hurd, and Ertel stopped the clock at 1:33.12, just four hundredths of a second off the Kenyon record.
Special thanks to Kenyon for contributing this report.