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Women place second at NCAC Championship

Kate Mesaros  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Kate Mesaros | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  Denison women's swimming & diving won four events on Saturday night at the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference Championship but Kenyon managed to hold off the Big Red by 93 points for the team title.  Kenyon totaled 1,953 points across the four-day event while Denison followed at 1,860.  Wooster placed third with 1,225.5 and DePauw was fourth at 1,075.5.

One of the big storylines on Saturday surrounded the 200 butterfly where Halli Garza was trying to become the first four-time winner of the event in conference history.  Through 199 yards it was looking like history would be made. That changed when teammate Zoe Whelanbested Garza at the wall by .03 to win her first conference title.  Whelan touched in 2:03.10 while Garza followed in 2:03.13.  Both Garza (2:02.57) and Whelan (2:03.06) notched season-best 'B' cut times in the morning.  Logan Wickman (2:08.09) and Caroline Colville (2:08.66) finished fourth and fifth, respectively for DU.

Sophomore Allison Fitzgerald swept both diving events for the second-straight year with her victory on the 3-meter board.  She tallied an 11-dive score of 454.55 to outdistance teammate Naomi Clayton (421.05).  Emma Weber placed fourth with a score of 417.75.  This was the 12th time a Denison diver has won the women's 3-meter at the conference championship.

In the 200 breaststroke, Kate Mesaros defended her conference title with a time of 2:19.27.  Ellen Higdon was fourth in 2:24.92 and Elle Stevens took fifth in 2:25.75.

KT Kustritz also defended her crown in the 100 individual medley with a new conference, pool and varsity record time of 57.21.  Last year, Kustritz became the conference's first 100 IM champ in 57.81.

Four Big Red swimmers took part in the 200 backstroke, led by Jacquelyn Kurkjian's PR and 'B' cut time of 2:01.92 that put her in second place.  Minutes after placing second in the 1,650 freestyle, Hannah Rusinko touched fourth in the 200 back in 2:06.00.  Casey Kirby was sixth (2:08.21) and Bridget Horton was ninth in 2:09.40.

Kenyon effectively locked up the conference title in the 100 free where they outscored Denison by 107 points despite the Big Red placing three swimmers in the top-7.  Gabriella Nutter took second with a PR and 'B' cut of 50.88.  Mia Chiappe was fifth in 52.01 and Maddie Hopkins placed seventh with a season-best time of 52.25.

The 1,650 freestyle saw Rusinko chop 24.12 seconds off her previous season-best for a 'B' cut time of 17.02.80.  Natalie Zaravella was fourth at 17:08.51 and Colville touched seventh with a time of 17:32.57.

The meet was closed out by DU's second-place finish in the 400 free relay as Nutter, Chiappe, Hopkins, and Kustritz posted 3:25.04.

Denison totaled nine event wins at the championship.  Fitzgerald was named the NCAC Diver of the Year for the second-straight year and head coach Russ Bertram was named the NCAC Women's Diving Coach of the Year.

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