Denison men in first place at NCAC Championship

Kymani Senior  |  Photo by Brett Dunbar
Kymani Senior | Photo by Brett Dunbar

GRANVILLE, Ohio—The Denison men's swimming and diving team lead Kenyon College by 29 points after seven of 21 events at the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship.  Denison has totaled 651.5 points while Kenyon sits in second with 622.5 points.  DePauw is third with 412.5 and Wabash is fourth at 323.

Denison kicked off Thursday night's finals with a conference title in the 200 freestyle relay.  Kymani Senior, Zach Wagner, Carson Clear and Matt McHugh posted a season-best 'B' cut time of 1:20.57.  Wagner's 50-yard split of 20.02 led the relay. It was DU's second-straight win in the event and the program's 12th 200 free relay title in NCAC history.

Kymani Senior lit up the crowd in morning prelims with a personal-best 'B' cut swim of 20.06 in the 50 free. That seeded him first for tonight's finals and the sophomore held off his teammate, Wagner, by the narrowest of margins (.01) to win his first conference title.  Senior touched in 20.46 while Wagner was relegated to second-place for the second-straight year.  Carson Clear (20.59) and Matt McHugh (20.66) followed in third and fourth, respectively with 'B' cuts.

Also scoring in the 50 free was Kenny Fox (7th – 21.05), Nick Froemming (10th – 20.96) and Liam Marsden-Readford (13th – 21.15).  After the 50 free, Denison led by 21 points in the team standings thanks to 189.5 points by the Big Red in the event.

Sophomore James Baker led a contingent of five DU swimmers who finished in the top-six of the 500 freestyle.  Baker dropped 1.43 seconds off his prelim time, touching in 4:28.25 for a season-best 'B' cut time.  In third place, Matt Hedman finished in 4:29.81 after nearly breaking the pool record in prelims (4:27.68).  His prelim time is his season-best.

Drake Horton lowered his 'B' cut time by 0.37 seconds with a fourth-place finish in 4:30.04.  Aaron Saccurato and Ben Burdick went 5-6 after times of 4:33.96 and 4:34.33, respectively to round out the A-Final.  In the B-Final, John Stauffer touched in 4:38.73 to finish 14th.  DU racked up 161 points in the event.

Ryan Stevenson logged his first individual NCAC championship in the 200 IM with a season-best 'B' cut time of 1:50.58. He finished second last year to teammate and 6-time national champion, Jack Lindell.  This year, teammate Francis Biagioli punched his ticket for Indianapolis with a 'B' cut 1:50.81 to finish second.  Biagioli dropped 1.20 seconds off his preliminary time and nearly four seconds off his entry time.  In eighth place, Jake Von Der Lippe touched in 1:55.61.

The night was capped off with a victory in the 400 medley relay as DU cruised to a 2.67-second win over Kenyon behind strong swims by Jason Wesseling, Stevenson, Senior, and Wagner. The foursome touched in 3:17.17.  It wasn't DU's season-best in the event.  That happened at the Miami Invitational in 3:15.47 which also happens to be the fastest time in Division III this season.

On Wednesday night, the 800 free relay team of Horton, Stevenson, McHugh, and Wagner placed first by over eight seconds with a time of 6:33.03. Denison is the defending national champion in this event.

Denison returns to the Trumbull Aquatics Center on Friday for finals in the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke.