NCAA Swim Meets of the Week: Stanford Women Have Not Lost Duel Meet in 5 Years

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Allie Szekely won the 200 IM and was second in the 200 back and 200 fly. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Swim Meet of the Week

The regular season is finished in Division I women’s swimming and diving with Stanford taking down Cal head to head as both schools look to be prime contenders for the national title in 30 days. Cal was the mid-season favorite, but Stanford showed why they have won the last three titles, setting them up for what will be an exciting meet in Athens, Georgia in March.

The first round of conference championships in Division II and III also happened this weekend with Drury, McKendree, Indianapolis, Denison and Kenyon lobbying themselves for a strong performance at NCAAs next month. Queens and Emory have dominated the women’s landscape in both Divisions, but that streak could end this year with Drury and Denison looking good this past weekend.

We focus on which teams are clicking at the right time to make a run at a national title in this week’s NCAA Swim Meet of the Week.

NCAA Swim Meet of the Week Division I: Stanford Women Take Down Cal to Remain Undefeated

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Erin Voss won the 200 backstroke against Cal. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Cal vs. Stanford Results

At the halfway point of the season, if you scored out the national landscape as a championship meet, Cal would have been the number one team, while the three-time defending national champions Stanford would have been seventh. Stanford has been known to not swim too particularly well at the mid-season invitational, with this season being no exception. Let’s face it, Stanford really did not look like a championship team this season without Ella Eastin and Taylor Ruck. It really looked like Cal’s year to take advantage of a “down” Stanford team before they get Ruck back and before they get world record holder Regan Smith next season.

Cal has the number one sprinter in the country in Abbey Weitzeil, who will score a lot of points in four of the five relays. They also have sophomore Izzy Ivey, who has emerged as a potential three-event A-Final scorer at NCAAs in a month. Stanford does not have that star power, but they have depth. And that was on display at “The Big Meet” on Saturday. Of course, the national title race is not over at all. We still have to get through to Pac-12’s in nine days as well as NCAAs in 30 days.

But the #5 Stanford women really made a statement on Saturday by securing a 193 – 104 win over #2 Cal.

Stanford has not lost a duel meet since February 2015 when Missy Franklin’s Cal team took down the Cardinal en route to their last national championship five years ago. It was senior day for the Cardinal in Palo Alto this year and that was a tough obstacle to overcome for the Golden Bears, who will see their rivals in a week and a half at the Pac-12 Championships.

Stanford’s senior class will go out as undefeated in duel meets in their careers and will have a chance to go out undefeated in national championships in a month. Katie Drabot, who had a hiccup last season in only making one A-Final at NCAAs, won the 200 butterfly with a 1:55.79 ahead of fellow senior Allie Szekely (1:55.99). Drabot has been one of the unsung heroes the last few years, reaching three A-Finals in 2018 as a sophomore.

But she didn’t do it alone. Szekely has been another unsung hero, as she won the 200 IM (1:56.80), and was second in the 200 back (1:53.84) and 200 fly. That is a heck of a triple just eleven days before a championship meet and she was a part of a 1-2 finish in all three events, showcasing the depth that Stanford has. The Cardinal don’t have the sprint depth that made them so dangerous two years ago when they had Simone ManuelJanet Hu and Ally Howe, but they have the depth that will make them dangerous on the last day of NCAAs.

Stanford won the title last year because of how strong they were on that final day in the 1650, 200 back, 200 breast and 200 fly, and that seems to be the case once again this season.

Senior Megan Byrnes had a strong showing in the 1000 (9:53.15), securing a 1-2-3 finish with sophomore Morgan Tankersley (9:54.86) and junior Brooke Forde (10:01.32). Senior Erin Voss won the 200 backstroke (1:53.15) and sophomore Zoe Bartel won the 200 breaststroke (2:13.36) with both securing 1-2-3 finishes for the Cardinal. Both of those events are on the last day of the championship meets and if they can replicate those swims again, then that could push them past teams like Cal, Virginia, and NC State, who have shown they have teams capable of winning a title this year.

Stanford’s Lauren PitzerAlex Crisera and Allie Raab should score in multiple events, giving them unmatched depth across the board. Pitzer won the 200 free (1:47.50) and 500 (4:45.37) on Saturday and will certainly have a chance in those wide open events come championship season. She made the 500 A-Final last year, placing sixth, and that experience should help her this year.

Crisera, just a freshman, scored perhaps the biggest upset of the meet on Saturday with a win over Cal’s Ivey in the 100 back at 52.70 to Ivey’s 53.16. Ivey was fourth in that event at NCAAs last season and was a major part of why Cal gave Stanford fits through the first two and a half days of NCAAs. She added to Cal’s sprint depth that Stanford could not match.

Crisera was also third in the 200 back (1:54.24) and will be key come NCAAs as Stanford guns for its fourth straight title.

Cal will be tough to beat as well, though. Although they didn’t beat their cross-town rival Stanford, they still have a team capable of a fourth straight top two finish at NCAAs. Abbey Weitzeil is on fire, winning the 50 (21.89) and 100 free (47.97) and anchoring both the 200 relays, splitting a 21.05 in the medley and 21.33 in the free.

Weitzeil already broke 21 seconds from a flat start in December, so what does she have up her sleeve come NCAAs? She will likely be on all four sprint relays for the Golden Bears, meaning they will have a chance at a title in anything she swims. She is capable of running down anyone as the keeper of the fastest 50 free split in history (20.45 in a tie with Manuel).

Stanford’s strengths lie in that final day of NCAAs, while Cal’s strengths lie in the Friday of NCAAs. Izzy Ivey won the 100 butterfly (53.06) on Saturday and should make the A-Final in that and the 100 back at NCAAs on that third night. Junior Robin Neumann, who was second in the 200 free (1:47.58), should also score highly in that event while sophomore Alicia Wilson has the potential of scoring in both IM’s.

NCAAs will be a test of which team between Cal and Stanford can minimize their weaknesses. Can Cal create a big enough lead into Saturday to hold off the Cardinal? And can Stanford’s still very young team win its fourth title even without superstars Eastin and Ruck?

This duel meet between the two was just the appetizer. Pac-12’s will be the salads. And NCAAs will be the main course.

NCAA Swim Meet of the Week Division II: Drury, UIndy Take GLVC Titles But McKendree Look Primed For Historic National Finish

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Erica Dahlgren won three GLVC individual titles for Drury. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

GLVC Championships Results

It wasn’t easy, but the Drury women and Indianapolis men continued their winning streaks at the 2020 GLVC Swimming and Diving Championships in Crawfordsville, Indiana in the NCAA Swim Meet of the Week.

In a year that looks like could be the end of Queens’ dominance in Division II, it could be anyone’s game come NCAAs in three and a half weeks. Could this be Drury’s year to win its first national title since 2014? Drury seniors Erica Dahlgren and Bailee Nunn will have a say in that as they both won three individual events at the GLVC Championships while Nunn scored 128 points in winning all four of her individual events.

There are still a couple of conference meets still to be swum, but Drury won four of the five relays on the weekend and put up the nation leading time in three of them. They also have a lot of depth on the team with the presence of distance swimmers Tori Sopp, Mackenzie HarrisBec Cross and Allison Weber, who all rank in the national top ten in at least two events.

Backstroke sprinter Laura Pareja was also on a couple winning medley relays as this looks to be Drury’s best team in a while. Is a national title next? We still need to see how UC San Diego will look in their conference meet, but if Drury can get a big group to nationals, then a title is certainly not out of the question.

In the men’s meet, Indianapolis won its third straight title despite not winning a single swimming event, using their diving depth to win the title ahead of McKendree, who swept all five relays.

We have talked a lot about McKendree this season and how head coach Jimmy Tierney built a national title contender from scratch in just four years. You need five strong relays to win a title, and the Bearcats lead the nation in all five. That may change before the psych sheet comes out in March, but McKendree has a very, very strong team, with multiple individuals that can claim a national title.

Freshman Fabio Dalu was within seconds of the Division II record in the 1000 and 1650 as he started the meet with a major spark in that 1000, breaking 9:00 with an 8:58, finishing well ahead of 2018 national champ Tim Samuelsen.

Sophomore Gregg Lichinsky is also ranked #1 in Division II in the 50 and 100 free, and junior Xander Skinner will provide a lot of depth to their freestyle relays. UIndy did win the conference championship with their depth, but McKendree’s top heavy team should push them to a historic showing at NCAAs in 23 days.

Meet of the Week Division III: Kenyon Men, Denison Women Take NCAC Wins

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Photo Courtesy: Kenyon Athletics

The #1 Kenyon men and #1 Denison women won their respective NCAC championship titles on the weekend as part of one of the best rivalries in Division III in the NCAA Swim Meet of the Week.

The Lords put up the nation’s top time in the 100 fly with freshman Cheranth De Silva (47.31) and in the 200 medley relay. Denison did win all of the free relays but Kenyon’s team of David Fitch (22.32), Luis Weekes (24.40), Marcus Hong (21.05) and De Silva (19.65) won the 200 at 1:27.42 while the 400 team actually touched first but they ended up disqualified, as did Denison, giving an unexpected and unprecedented win to Wabash.

Weekes was named the swimmer of the championships for winning the 100 breast (55.16) and 200 breast (1:58.50) as well as the 200 IM (1:47.82). His 200 breast put him second in Division III while his 200 IM performance put him third.

Usually, Denison has had killer depth in the distance events but Kenyon beat them at their own game with senior Connor Rumpit winning both the 500 (4:24.34) and 1650 (15:32.01) ahead of Denison junior Dayen Wilson. Rumpit now sits second nationally in the 500 and fourth in the 1650.

Denison still had a good showing, winning the freestyle relays and also securing an upset win in the 200 butterfly from senior Mitch Williams, who out-touched Kenyon senior David Fitch, who still has the top time in Division III in that event.

Denison has won three of the last four Division III NCAA titles, but Kenyon might end that streak this year. The Lords have not won a national title since 2015. They have dominated men’s swimming in Division III, winning 34 out of a possible 45 team titles. The power has shifted in Denison’s favor the last couple of years. Can Kenyon snatch that back? A conference title win is big for Kenyon, who also beat Denison in a duel meet in November. Beating a team as talented as Denison three times in one season is a tough ask. But it looks like Kenyon has the team to do so. They just have to show up at NCAAs ready to go.

On the women’s side, Denison looks like they could actually win their first NCAA team title since 2001. They too have secured two victories over their rivals Kenyon, winning the duel meet in November and also winning the conference championship this past weekend.

Denison won all five relays, putting up the nation’s top time in each. They scared the Division III record in the 200 free (1:30.98) and 200 medley (1:40.16), getting within a half second each time.

A new NCAA record did fall on the weekend from Kenyon junior Crile Hart, who broke Honore Collins’ 200 IM record from last season at 1:58.04. Hart provided a lot of spark for the Ladies, but Kenyon did not have the depth to match Denison. They got wins from KT Kustritz in the 100 breast (1:01.48) and 100 IM (55.39), interestingly not swimming the 200 breast, but may be saving that for NCAAs. Junior Maddie Hopkins won the 50 free (22.84) and senior Gabriella Nutter won the 100 free (50.17), putting them as the top swimmers in Division III in those events.

Denison looks to be on a mission to end Emory’s long winning streak at nationals. They have the star-power and the depth to dethrone the Eagles. They just need to put the pieces together come NCAAs.

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