GREENSBORO, N.C.— At the halfway point of the 2019 NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championship, the Denison men hold a 33.5 point lead over second place Kenyon in the team standings. Emory University is lurking in third place with 259.5 points. The Big Red totaled one national championship and eight top-seven swims to highlight day two at nationals.
In recent years, Dension has done some major damage in the 400 individual medley and 2019 was no different. DU placed three swimmers in the championship final and one in the consolation final after a strong showing in the morning. John Stauffer took second in the consolation heat to place 10th overall with a personal best time of 3:54.71. Matt Hedman (6th – 3:53.07), Mitch Williams (5th – 3:51.70) and Bebe Wang (4th – 3:51.46) posted All-American swims in the event for the third consecutive year. The four All-American swims resulted in 49 points for Denison.
Kenny Fox reached the finals of the 100 fly for the third-straight year and the senior placed seventh in 48.39 to earn 14 points toward the team total. Kymani Senior swam in the consolation final and took third for an 11th place finish in 48.72. Despite Denison's 20-point effort in the event, Kenyon fared well, totaling 49 points in the event to trim the Big Red's lead to 4.5 points heading into the 200 freestyle.
The first major fireworks of the night for Denison came in the 200 freestyle where sophomore Drake Horton captured his first individual event national title with a personal best time of 1:37.75. Horton finished fifth in the event as a freshman. He is the second swimmer from Denison to win a national title in the 200 free. David Curtis took home the gold three-straight years from 2007-09.
Following Horton in sixth-place was senior Ryan Stevenson in 1:38.76. Eric Gerlach was second in the consolation final to land 10th overall in 1:39.11. This is the first individual event All-American certificate for Gerlach. After the 200 free, Denison's lead increased to 29.5 points over the Lords.
In the opening event of the night, the Big Red entered the 200 free relay with the fastest time in morning preliminaries with a time of 1:20.41. Facing a stacked field with the top sprinters at the meet, the Big Red team of Senior, Horton, Liam Picozzi, and Matt McHugh touched in 1:20.73 to finish fourth. That's a three-spot improvement over last year's seventh-place finish.
Denison closed out day one with a national championship in the 200 medley relay and they were looking to do the same in the 400 medley relay on Thursday. Washington-St. Louis proved to be Denison's strongest challenger in the event and thanks to a strong backstroke leadoff from Peyton Wilson, the Bears were in the lead heading into the anchor leg. Horton hit the water for Denison and put them in the lead after the first 50 yards. WashU's Gregory Van Patten dueled Horton to the wall for the 0.12-second win. Horton and Van Patten posted identical 44.07 anchor splits. This is the second-straight runner-up performance by Denison in the 400 medley relay.
Friday's events at the Division III swimming & diving championship include the 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, the women's 1-meter dive and the 800 free relay.