Division III Preview: Mid-Season Invites Abound

Keene State 2014
Keene State will be at the MIT Invite this weekend. Photo Courtesy: Alison Bartlett

This weekend brings a second, more significant and better attended round of invites in Division III swimming and diving, as well as a few dual meets.

Listed below are most of the biggest invites this weekend, where a number of ranked Division III teams will be swimming. Included are the teams expected to be attending. If any teams are missing from the list, let us know in the comments!

The Schedule:

Denison Invite at Denison University

Teams Attending: Denison, Emory

TPSC Invite at Kenyon College

Teams Attending: Kenyon, NYU, Carnegie Mellon, Susquehanna

MIT Winter invite

Teams Attending: MIT, Tufts, RPI, Wellesley, Keene State, Wheaton (MA), Simmons

Bruno Invite at Brown University

Teams Attending: Johns Hopkins

Washington and Lee Invitational

Teams Attending: Washington and Lee, Messiah, York College (PA), Emory and Henry

Wheaton Invite

Teams Attending: Wheaton (IL), WashU, UW- Steven’s Point, Hope

Calvin Winter Invite

Teams Attending: Calvin, Grove City, Kalamazoo

Wooster Invite

Teams Attending: Wooster, Case Western, Ohio Northern, Chatham

Grinnell Invite

Teams Attending: Grinell, WashU

St. Cloud State University Rochester Invitational

Teams Attending: St. Kate’s, St. Thomas

Tommie/Wildcat Invite

Teams Attending: St. Thomas, St. Kate’s

Gettysburg Invitational

Teams Attending: Gettysburg, University of Mary Washington, Dickinson, Susquehanna

TCNJ Invitational

Teams Attending: TCNJ, USMMA, Swarthmore, Arcadia, SUNY New Paltz

And a Dual Meet: Pomona-Pitzer vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

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Photo Courtesy: Stephen Carr

Amidst all of the invite action is a significant dual meet. Friday and Saturday Pomona-Pitzer will head across Sixth Street, a full two tenths of a mile, to Axelrood Pool, where they’ll swim cross-street, SCIAC rivals Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

Last year, the CMS men and Pomona-Pitzer women won the rivalry meet, each by about 30 points.

Opposite to last year’s outcome, the Pomona-Pitzer women go into the meet seeded as the underdogs, with a #14 ranking to CMS’ #12 spot. The CMS men are ranked 12th while the Sagehens hold the 10th spot.

To Watch:

This should be the fastest weekend of Division III swimming in advance of Conference Championships in February.

A number of athletes will attempt to qualify for NCAAs this weekend (though few swims are a sure thing, as Division III no longer has very attainable A cuts), allowing them to rest less for their Conference meets.

It’s all worth watching, but here’s a few storylines to keep an eye on.

Tom Gordon to the Top?

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Photo Courtesy: Emory Athletics

Emory senior Tom Gordon won the 500 and the 1650 at NCAAs last year. Denison’s Matt Hedman was close behind.

Hedman got off to a roaring start this fall, and currently owns the number one times in the mile, and the second best time in the 500.

The Eagles travel to the Denison Invitational this weekend, giving Gordon a chance to go head to head with Hedman, and regain his spot as Division III’s leading distance swimmer.

Seemingly Out of Nowhere: St. Kate’s

A strong freshman class has launched St. Kate’s (St. Catherine University) into the CSCAA’s Top 25, in 25th place. Without even resting (according to a quote from Head Coach Justin Zook in a school press release), the team has already setting many school records.

This weekend they have two invites on their schedule: the University of St. Thomas Invite, and the St. Cloud State University Rochester Invitational.

So far Maggie Menso has set all three distance school records (5:09.05, 10:44.97, 17:43.67). She comes into college with lifetime bests of 4:51.65, 9:58.35, and 16:39.12 in the 500, 1000, and 1650. Menso would have qualified for NCAAs last year with those times, and finished fourth in the 500, and second in the mile with her lifetime bests.

Her classmate Jordyn Wentzel is responsible for another quintet of school records this fall, posting a 2:06.58 200 IM, a 1:53.77 200 free, and a 2:20.30 200 breaststroke. She’s been faster than that, with lifetime bests of 2:05.61, 1:51.35, and 2:15.00, respectively. She’s also clocked a 58.05 100 fly and 2:06.46 200 fly for two more school marks.

Wentzel arrives in college a likely NCAAA finalist, with her 100 breaststroke lifetime best of 1:02.47. Her best 200 breaststroke time would have been third in 2018, while her 100 breaststroke would have earned fifth place points.

Macy Klein has taken down the school’s 100 freestyle school record with a 53.13. Her lifetime best stands at 52.03. While none of her times are in NCAA qualifying range, this team has some relay potential if Menso and Wentzel can really stretch their versatility.

A Mid-Season National Record for KT Kustritz?

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Photo Courtesy: Linda Striggo

KT Kustritz seems to have been the story of the fall, but with good reason. Every time the Denison junior has raced this fall she’s been a solid step ahead of the rest of Division III.

Kustritz truly cemented herself as a leader last December when she broke the 100 breaststroke NCAA record with a 1:00.50. She later lowered that mark to a 59.77 at NCAAS, but this fall she’s already been a touch faster than she was last fall headed into her mid-season invite.

There’s little pressure for anything faster this fall though, when she’s already gone a time that should be more than safe for NCAAs.

Johns Hopkins Looking to Qualify for NCAAs

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

Since leaving the Bluegrass Mountain Conference in 2016, the Blue Jays have been conference meet-less. They’ve chosen the early February Nike Cup in place of a conference championship.

That schedule has allowed them to get back in the water a few weeks before most of their Division III counterparts, and leaves the team with most of their NCAA qualifying hopes resting on this weekend’s meet.

Last year the team was on fire at the Big Al Open at Princeton. This year the Blue Jays will head to the Bruno Invite at Brown University.

For the women, sophomore Emma McElrath should be able to repeat as an NCAA qualifier in the distance events. Freshman Sydney Okubo has bounced around the top of the NCAA rankings in a number of events this fall. She’s a versatile IMer and backstroker.

Her classmate Rebecca Ssengozi is looking like a 100 butterfly threat. We’ll see what that group and company can do on the relay-front as well.

The men have a crew of newbies and returners who look to be likely NCAA qualifiers. Defending National Champion Brandon Fabian trails freshman teammates Noah Corbitt and Collin Hughes in the NCAA rankings in his top event- the 200 free. They could be a dangerous crew on the freestyle relays.

Senior Emile Kuyl has some powerful sprint freestyles and is an All-American backstroker. Another freshman Dylan Wachenfeld already sits sixth in Division III in the 200 back.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    NYSwmr4699

    Forgot to add the Ithaca Bomber Invitational to the list….has a ton of Division 3 teams….

  2. avatar
    NESwim

    WPI Gompei Invite? Has a lot of top D3 teams and even brings in a ton of D1 and D2 talent.