NCAA Division III Women’s Predictions

By Reed Shimberg

MEDFORD, Massachusetts, March 5. FOR four days this month more than 350 of the top swimmers and divers from Division III schools throughout the nation will come to Minnesota to compete in the NCAA Division III Championships.

The Division III swimming and diving national championships will be held from March 17-20 at the University of Minnesota, hosted by Beloit College and the College of Wooster. Last year, the Kenyon ladies dominated the women's meet, beating their closest competitor by more than 100 points, but this year, swimmers and fans are expecting a much closer meet.

Here are my predicted finished for the women's meet:
1. Emory Eagles: The 2010 UAA conference champions have placed in the top four for nine consecutive years, with their last national title in 2006. This year, however, they come in as the favorites and their depth should allow them to hang on for the win. Leading the way for the Eagles is junior Liz Horvat, who won the 500 and mile freestyles and the 400 IM last year, all in meet-record times. This year, she is seeded first in the 400 IM and the mile and fourth in the 500. Emory is the defending champions in the 200 and 800 free relays, and are seeded second in both events this year. Luckily, the team is returning all four members of the winning 200 free relay from last year. Ruth Westby and Claire Pavlak will be key to the Eagles' relay success. Westby finaled in the 50, 100, and 200 free last year, while Pavlak anchored 3 relays at last years championships.

2. Kenyon Ladies: Kenyon has dominated Division III swimming, winning 23 of the last 26 national championships; however, they are an underdog this year. Surprisingly, they will not be sending a complete roster of 18 girls to the meet; their national group of 14 seems to be missing some of the big names who have swum so well earlier in the season. Kenyon will be led by returning champions Tina Ertel and Alisa Vereschchagin in the 200 IM and 200 breaststroke. The 200 IM is a power event for the Ladies – last year, seven swimmers qualified and advanced to the finals or consolation finals at night, and they are expecting similar results this year. They also will look to score big points in the mile where they have three of the top eight seeds going into the meet.

3. Denison Big Red: After defeating Kenyon at the conference meet this year, the Big Red look to continue their 23 consecutive top eight finishes this year. They are seeded first in all five relays, which should be their strength in this year's championships. If they can manage to win all of those, they can definitely give Emory and Kenyon a run for their money. At last year's meet, they won both medley relays. Top individual performers for the Big Red should be Emily Schroeder seeded first in the 200 backstroke, Hilary Calen in the 500 freestyle, Olivia Zaleski in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, along with many other top eight seeds.

4. Williams Ephs: The NESCAC champions have been a top-four finisher for seven of the last eight years, and they expect to finish in similar fashion this year. The Ephs will be led by two-time champion butterflyer Logan Todhunter, who set the meet record in the 100 and 200 last year and is seeded first and second, respectively, this year. The Ephs will also be led by freshman Caroline Wilson, who burst out on the DIII scene in her first meet this year by swimming A cuts in multiple events. Wilson is seeded in the top three in all three of her events and has the potential to win at least one event. The Ephs should also final in every relay this year.

5. Amherst Lady Jeffs: The Lady Jeffs have finished in the top five for the past four years, including two runner-up finishes, and they are expected to perform no differently this year. Junior Kendra Stern, who won the 100 and 200 freestyles last year and finished second in the 500, will lead the team over the course of the meet. She is seeded second in each of her individual events for the upcoming meet. Also leading the charge will be freshman Emily Swett, who is seeded ninth in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 backstroke.

6. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas: The Athenas boasted an impressive squad last year, which placed sixth in the national championships. This year they are seeded second in the 200 and 400 medley teams while their 200 free relay is also a contender, seeded ninth. They will look for strong individual performances by Katie Bilotti seeded fourth in the 100 fly and sixth in the 100 back as well Annie Perizzolo, who is seeded first in the 200 breaststroke and fourth in the 100 breaststroke.

7. Calvin Knights: Coming off a strong seventh-place finish last year, the Knights look to improve on that this year with a tough eight-women squad. They will be dependent upon their two divers and two star breaststrokers through the week Last year, diver Erica Deur won the one-meter diving competition and came in second in the three-meter, while Casey Herman finished eighth in the one-meter. Three of their breaststrokers (Maggie Vail, Emily Roberts, Elizabeth Counsell) finished top 16 in the individual breaststroke events and are seeded in the top 16 this year as well.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineers: The engineers did not finish in the top 10 last year, but plan for that to change with the addition of freshman Anna Kokensparger. She is seeded first in the 200 IM as well as third and sixth in the 100 and 200 fly respectively. The Engineers should get some additional help from their 200 and 800 freestyle relays seeded eighth and ninth as well.

9. University of Wisconsin La Crosse Eagles: After a strong eighth-place finish last year, the Eagles will look to retain that position this year. Chelsea Hoff will be the girl for UW this meet. Coming off two individual top eight finishes last year, she will be seeded in the top five of each of her three individual events this year. UW will also rely heavily on their relay power, as they are seeded in the top eight for all but the 800 free relay.

10. Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties: Rounding out the top 10 should be the Gustavus Golden Gusties, who look to crack the top 10 after not doing so last year. The team will be led by Carley Mosher, who is seeded fourth in the 100 backstroke and second in the 200 backstroke, and Carrie Gunderson, who is seeded in the top 16 for the 200, 500, and 1650 freestyle. They should also be successful in each of their freestyle relays, which are all seeded in the top eight.

Also watch for Carthage, Grove City, and Stevens Tech to put up big points at this year's national championship.

I'll be back with my picks for the men's title in a future article.