GREENSBORO, N.C.-- Bebe Wang won the national championship in the 200 Individual Medley and the Big Red captured its first-ever 200 medley relay national championship to highlight the opening night of the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. Through four of 20 events, Denison sits in first place overall with 136 points. Emory is second with 105 points and Kenyon is third with 97.
Wang entered this year's championship as the defending national champion in the 200 backstroke. He finished third in the 200 IM in 2018 and this year, the junior posted a stellar 26.92 backstroke split to extend his lead in the race. Wang out-touched WashU's Kevin Van Cleave at the wall by .17. Wang is the third 200 IM national champion from Denison and the first since Jack Lindell took home the hardware in this very same pool in 2016.
Following Wang in sixth place in the 200 IM was Mitch Williams with a personal best time of 1:49.11. He placed seventh in 2018. Ryan Stevenson took eighth, a four-spot improvement over last season. Stevenson touched in 1:49.71. In the consolation final, first-year Richie Kurlich finished fifth in the race and 13th overall in 1:50.58.
In the 200 medley relay, the team of Carson Clear, Tiernan Foster-Smith, Colin MacMillan and Kymani Senior took the gold with a new varsity record time of 1:27.83. After a runner-up finish a year ago, the Big Red locked up the only relay that had eluded them at nationals. It marked the first national title for Clear, Foster-Smith and MacMillan and the second for Senior. He will defend his crown in the 100 butterfly on Thursday.
Senior Matt Hedman entered this year's championship as one of the Big Red's projected top-scorers and opened his final national meet with a fourth-place finish in 4:25.93. James Baker won the consolation heat to finish ninth in 4:27.11. Drake Horton touched third in the heat for an 11th place finish in 4:29.28.
Kymani Senior logged a personal best time of 20.00 in the 50 free to place fourth. That is a two-spot improvement over his sixth-place finish a season ago. Another big gainer for DU was Matt McHugh. In 2018, McHugh finished 42nd in the event with a time of 20.91. This year he touched in 20.50 to finish 14th.
Denison returns on Thursday for Day 2 of 4 at the NCAA Division III Championships where they will compete in the 200 free relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free and the 400 medley relay. Preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. followed by finals at 6 p.m. from the Greensboro Aquatic Center.