March 6, 2014

DU women ready to roll in Indy

Thirteen members of the Denison women's swimming team have qualified for the 2014 NCAA Division III Championship to be held in Indianapolis, Ind. on March 19-22.

After being named the North Coast Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year, Natalie Lugg enters her fourth and final national meet with the nation's fastest time in the 200 individual medley at 2:03.06.  She also boasts the fifth-fastest times in the 100, and 200 breaststroke events.  Lugg is a 12-time All-American who is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 100 breast, last year.

Fellow seniors Morgan Nuess, and Tully Bradford have combined for seven NCAA appearances since arriving in Granville in the fall of 2010.  Like Lugg, Nuess also has tallied 12 All-American swims in her career. She will swim the sprint free events and is the anchor on the Big Red's top-ranked 200 free relay.

A three-time national qualifier, Bradford enters the meet ranked 18th in the 200 freestyle and should also swim the 800 free relay in which Denison is seeded second.  Bradford picked up her first All-American certificate last year as a member of Denison's sixth-place 800 free relay.

Michelle Howell is coming off two-consecutive runner-up finishes in the 400 individual medley, and the junior is seeded second in the event with a season-best time of 4:23.18.  She also checks in fourth in the 200 fly (2:03.95) and is 17th in the 200 IM.  Howell has racked up eight All-American swims in her first two trips to nationals.

Sophomore Taylor Johns has established herself as one of the nation's top distance freestyle swimmers this season.  She enters the meet with the country's fastest time in the 1650 freestyle in 16:46.91.  Last year she placed eighth in the event.  Johns is also seeded fifth in the 500 free, and 14th in the 400 IM.

Fellow distance freestyler, Campbell Costley will be making her first national appearance.  The first-year from Glencoe, Ill., has the third-fastest time in the mile (16:51.02) and the 500 free (4:53.18).  She is also ranked eighth in the 200 freestyle.

In the sprint freestyle events, first-year Carolyn Kane leads DU with three, top-7 seeds entering the meet.  Kane is ranked fourth in the 200 free (1:50.15), sixth in the 50 free (23.34), and seventh in the 100 free (51.03).

Sophomore Ashley Yearwood has qualified with top-20 times in the 50 freestyle (12th), 100 free (15th) and the 100 backstroke (20th).  She will be joined by sophomore Mary Van Leuven who is seeded 11th in the 100 freestyle with a season-best time of 51.35.  Van Leuven, Kane, Yearwood, and Nuess are also expected to make up the Big Red's 200 free relay, which has the country's top time entering the championship.

Seven-time All-American Molly Willingham is making her third appearance in as many years.  She has the 11th quickest times in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.  She is also slated to compete in the 200 backstroke and various relays.  Willingham won this year's NCAC Championship in the 200 backstroke.

Sophomore Libby Dalziel is making her second-straight national appearance.  She is ranked 17th in the 200 backstroke and 20th in the 200 IM.

After a 14th-place finish in last year's 200 breaststroke, Marissa Bednarek returns with a season-best time of 2:19.61 which ranks her 13th on the psych sheet.  Fellow sophomore, Krysta Garbarino will round out Denison's national team roster.  She will be making her first appearance and is seeded 13th in the 200 butterfly in 2:04.80.

Denison women's swimming & diving have posted consecutive third-place finishes at the NCAA Division III Championship.  Overall, the program has won one national championship (2001), and has posted 27 consecutive top-7 national finishes.

The four-day championship will take place at IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind.  The NCAA will provide live video coverage of the entire championship, online at ncaa.com.