Division III Preview: A Battle in Boston, Chicago Hosts Calvin and DePauw

kingsley-bowen-tufts

Somehow the dual meet season in Division III is already winding down, with just three more weekends until the first round of Conference Championships. This is also the last weekend of racing before the Pre-Championship CSCAA poll.

Friday night MIT and Tufts will kick off the weekend on the East Coast while Kenyon will race Division I Cincinnati.

Saturday Emory will race against Centre, before gearing up for their final dual meet against UGA. Chicago, Calvin and DePauw will race on Saturday while WashU takes on Illinois State and Wabash. Ursinus will host Centennial conference foe Franklin and Marshall.

Boston’s Best: Tufts at MIT

Actual results of Friday night’s dual meet in Cambridge aside, this competition is interesting just for its numerous storylines.

The Tufts and MIT campuses are less than four miles apart. The two are without a doubt greater Boston’s best Division III swimming programs. Last year both men’s teams were conference champions of Division III’s two premier New England conferences, MIT in the NEWMAC, and Tufts in the NESCAC.

The two teams met in December at MIT’s Winter Invite. There, the Tufts women upset the home team to win the meet 1777 to 1684. The MIT men held on to win the meet 2012 to 1886.

As of today, the MIT women hold a number seven ranking while the Jumbo women are ranked 11th. The MIT men come in at number six while the Tufts men hold the 22nd spot.

MIT has had several nationally powerful divers in the past few years. Tufts’ divers? They also practice at MIT, sharing Head Diving Coach Brad Snodgrass.

A few likely highlights this weekend? We should see two of Division III’s top sprinters (literally, numbers one and two in the 50 free), Tufts’ Roger Gu and MIT’s Sam Ubellacker go head to head.

Both women’s teams have had deep breaststroke groups in the past few years. Right now the Jumbos’ Lily Kurtz and MIT’s Sara Nicholas are ranked in the top 20 nationally in the 200, and top 12 in the 100.

When the schools’ mens teams met back in 2003, Swimming World posted an article titled “MIT (yes, MIT!) Defeats Tufts, Makes School History with 9-0 Record”. An MIT victory would not come as a surprise this go around, and time will tell how much faster swimming has gotten in the last 16 years.

Chicago vs. Calvin, DePauw

Chicago (#9 Women, #7 Men), Calvin (#19 Women, #11 Men), and DePauw will race on Saturday. While Chicago is likely to dominate the team scores, some of Calvin’s top swimmers should find some great opportunities to race.

Senior Ben Holstege is a leader for the Calvin men. He boasts a season best 45.78 in the 100 free, the 37th best time in the country, and just three tenths behind Chicago’s top duo: Alexander Farrell and Keenan Novis. Holstege’s real wheelhouse is in the backstrokes though, where he has the fastest time in the nation so far this year, a 47.98. That doesn’t free him from competition though, as Chicago’s Byne Litschgi has the number three ranking with a 48.50.

Calvin sophomore Julian Iturbe owns the fifth best 200 free time in the country, a 1:38.50, just hundredths faster than Chicago’s top swimmer, Taye Baldinazzo (1:38.56). Iturbe is in the mix in the 500 as well, turning in a season best time of 4:31.48. Baldinazzo is the Maroons’ top athlete with a 4:35.65.

The Calvin women also have some freestyle firepower in duo Emily Gunderson and Anna Serino in the sprints. Serino stretches up to the 200 as well. They’ve also got great backstroke options, highlighted by Hannah ChaoNicole Lin is at the top of Chicago’s sprinting efforts. Tyler Mandrell has Chicago’s top 100 backstroke time this year, and should be a good match for Chao. Chicago’s other top end talent includes Nicole Garcia in the fly, Lin in the breaststroke and Taylor Hammill in the longer freestyles.