INDIANAPOLIS-- The lead continues to build for Denison at the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Swimming & Diving Championship. On Friday, the Big Red won the national championship in the 800 Free Relay for the third-straight year. That, combined with seven top-10 swims across the 200 fly, 100 back, and the 100 breast has set the stage for what is sure to be a thrilling final day of swimming at the IU Natatorium.
Through 15 of 20 events, Denison has totaled 452.5 points. They now hold a substantial 202.5 point lead over second-place Emory University (250).
Denison's dominance in the 800 freestyle relay continued on Friday as the Big Red team of Drake Horton, Stuart Hohm, Bebe Wang and Ryan Stevenson set a new school record with a winning time of 6:29.59. That was only .32 shy of the national record that has stood since 2013. Swimming third, Wang's 200 split of 1:36.71 was the fastest in the race. The foursome chopped 3.44 seconds off their entry time to defeat second-place Kenyon by more than a second.
Not only was this Denison's ninth 800 free relay championship since 2006 and the program's 10th overall. This also marked the 100th event national championship in Denison swimming & diving history.
In the first event of the night, Mitch Williams and Aaron Saccurato turned in strong performances in the 200 butterfly. In the morning, Williams broke his own varsity record with a time of 1:46.23. He entered the finals with the fastest time in preliminaries. In the finals, Williams was eighth after his first 50 yards but the junior climbed back into the race to finish in third place in 1:46.67. Swimming out of lane one, Saccurato placed eighth with a 0.41-second drop to touch with a personal best time of 1:48.38.
Carson Clear and Jason Wesseling represented the Big Red in the championship final of the 100 backstroke and Clear led the way with a fourth-place finish in 48.60. Wesseling came in eighth with a time of 48.97. After the 100 backstroke, Denison built its lead to 160.5 points.
Tiernan Foster-Smith dropped a half second in the 100 breaststroke and that helped him to a third-place finish in 54.33. This was a new personal best in the event for Foster-Smith. It also marked his first All-American finish in the 100 breast.
In the consolation final of the 100 breaststroke, Denison's Jake Ball and Kenny Fox went 1-2 to earn 17 points toward the Big Red's cause. Ball dropped 0.39 seconds off his seed time, touching in 54.82. Fox was right behind in 55.22. This was the fourth All-American finish of the meet for Fox and his ninth overall. For Ball, this marked a five-spot improvement over his 14th place finish in the event last year.
Denison will return to the IU Natatorium on Saturday for the final day of swimming at the NCAA Division III Championship. They will compete in the 100 free, 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, the 1,650 free and the 400 free relay. Follow along with NCAA Swimming & Diving Central for links to recaps, photo galleries, highlight videos, live video and much more.