Simon Fraser’s Mariya Chekanovych Sets NCAA D2 Record; Drury Still Leading

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By Richie Krzyzanowski

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 8. TONIGHT's finals session of the NCAA Division II Championships at The CrossPlex in Birmingham featured an NCAA D2 record as well as plenty of other swims that came oh so close. Tonight also featured plenty of jockeying in terms of the team standings, including Wayne State closing to within 20 points of Drury in the women's race due to a Drury relay DQ.

Women's 500 free
Nova Southeastern's Erin Black defended her NCAA title in the middle distance event with a 4:50.29. She took control of the race from the start, and pulled away from the field after the 150-yard mark. UC San Diego's Anjali Shakya (4:51.89), Drury's Sarah Pullen (4:51.96), and Florida Southern's 1000 Free National Champ Allison Crenshaw (4:52.69) placed second through fourth behind Black.

Men's 500 free
In a bit of a surprise, Nova Southeastern's Oskar Nordstrand beat out UIW's Mark Rubin, 4:23.55 to 4:24.67 in the 500. Nordstrand, who seemed disappointed on day one in the 1000 free, put that swim behind him and emerged victorious. The 1000 free champ Rubin, wound up taking second overall. West Chester's Bradley Strathmeyer (4:24.74), and Drury's Ryan Arabejo (4:26.03) earned third and fourth in the finale. Nordstrand swam the race from lane seven, and led the entire way. He looked a bit exhausted, tightening up at the 400, but had plenty of space to win the race.

Women's 100 back
Bente Heller became Alaska Fairbanks' first NCAA D2 champion with a winning time of 54.26, while Ashland's Julie Widmann took second in 54.42. Widmann was the defending champion in the event, but settled for second-place honors. Clarion's Kayla Shull (55.40), and Wayne State's Sarah Maraskine (55.64) wound up third and fourth in the finale. Heller held off a late charge from Widmann in the finale 35 yards of the race, as Widmann's smoother stroke nearly overtook Heller's more power-based stroke.

Men's 100 back
Surprisingly, Bridgeport junior Oscar Pereiro missed taking down his NCAA D2 record of 46.99 from last year with a 47.04 to top the event for the third straight year. Drury's Daniel Swietlicki (47.58), Florida Southern's Jeffrey Halfacre (47.70), and Tampa's Karl Burdis (48.10) followed Pereiro in the finale. Pereiro led from the start, but seemed a bit disappointed after not breaking the record.

Women's 100 breast
Simon Fraser's Mariya Chekanovych won her Canadian-based school's first NCAA D2 title with a 1:01.50. She definitely enjoyed representing her team and nation at the meet, carrying a Canadian flag with her during the award's ceremony. Her time lowered the NCAA D2 record of 1:01.58 set by Kayla Scott of Wayne State last year. Scott, meanwhile, placed second in 1:01.85. Florida Southern's Kelsey Gouge (1:02.72) and Drury's Agnieszka Ostrowska (1:03.06) finished just behind the top two. Scott led at the 50, pushing the pace with a 29.10, but Chekanovych blew by her in the final 50 yards with a blistering 31.88 final split. The duo will battle again in the 200 breast tomorrow.

Men's 100 breast
Grand Canyon's Eetu Karvonen defended his title in the event, serving up a top time of 52.65. Wingate's Rory Julyan (52.98), Florida Southern's Miguel Ferreira (53.16), and Wayne State's two-time NCAA D2 record holder Piotr Jachowicz (53.46) posted second through fourth-place finishes.

“As soon as I dove in, water filled my goggles,” Karvonen told Swimming World. “I couldn't see anything the whole race, and relied on my stroke count to hit the wall as best as I could.”

Karvonen just missed the NCAA D2 record of 52.43 set by Tampa's Aleksander Hetland in 2009. Based off Karvonen's statement, one has to be curious whether Hetland's record would have been in jeopardy without the goggle mishap.

Women's 200 fly
LIU Post freshman Joyce Kwok topped the event in 2:00.28. Southern Connecticut State's Amanda Thomas (2:00.74), UC San Diego's Amanda Thomas (2:01.31), and Wayne States Kristina Novichenko (2:01.64) touched second through fourth behind her. Kwok, who went out a bit too fast in the 100 fly last night before fading to third, had much more control in this race, holding off multiple contenders for the title.

Men's 200 fly
UC San Diego's Dane Stassi owned the NCAA D2 crown with a time of 1:45.12, two seconds ahead of his nearest challenger. UIW's Evandro Silva (1:47.16), GCU's Ivan Nechunaev (1:47.35), and Wingate's Marko Blazevski (1:47.47) rounded out the top four behind Stassi. Stassi separated himself from the pack early on, and managed to push the margin even larger with a split of 26.80 in the third 50.

Men's one-meter diving
Wayne State's Dylan Szegedi edged St. Cloud State's Luke Weber, 529.65 to 526.70, for the national title. Clarion's Justin Duncan placed third overall with 514.80 points, while Mesa's Brock Martin (506.85) and St. Cloud State's Chris White (505.35) also cleared 500 points.

Women's 800 free relay
Tampa's Kristine Kassl (1:51.22), Alexandria Greehill (1:51.60), Alexandra Hippolito (1:52.95), and anchor leg Heather Glenday (1:48.93) won the distance relay with a time of 7:24.70 in what proved to be a wild and crazy finale. Team-leader Drury drew a disqualification when its third leg Ekaterina Alyabyeva lost her goggles at the start of her swim, then after the 50, flipped and pulled her cap and goggles off. She then proceeded to hang on the lane line, with what seemed to be a lot of emotion. Her teammates screamed for her to keep swimming, which she attempted to do before stopping again for another rest before finishing her leg. Wayne State (7:26.87) and UC San Diego (7:27.37) finished second and third.

Men's 800 free relay
Artur Dilman (1:39.53), Igor Kowal (1:38.78), Olexandr Padalkin (1:36.39), and anchor leg Vladimir Sidorkin (1:35.12) produced an NCAA title for Drury with a top time of 6:29.82. The squad sat third heading into the second half of the race, but Padalkin and Sidorkin powered their way to the title. Florida Southern (6:32.57) and Wingate (6:35.24) placed second and third to complete the podium.

Follow us on twitter @swimmingworld for constant updates of the races at the NCAA Division II Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.

Women's Top Five
Drury 295.5
Wayne State 276
UC San Diego 255.5
Wingate 199.5
LIU Post 164

Men's Top Five
Drury 398
Florida Southern 274
Incarnate Word 272
Grand Canyon 260
Wayne State 236

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