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Super sophomores lead Denison women into nationals

2018 Denison Women's Swimming & Diving National Team
2018 Denison Women's Swimming & Diving National Team

GRANVILLE, Ohio—The Denison women's swimming & diving team will send a squad of 16 competitors to the 2018 NCAA Division III Championship on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Big Red women have logged 26 consecutive top-six finishes at nationals. During that span, they have won one national championship (2001) and have been national runner-up on eight occasions.

On paper, Denison has arguably the youngest roster at this year's championship. The Big Red's roster consists of one senior, 11 sophomores and four first-year's.  Eleven individuals are making return trips to nationals while six are making their debut.

Sophomore KT Kustritz leads the Big Red's invasion of the Hoosier State.  In December, she set the Division III national record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.50. After a second-place finish in the 100 breast in 2017, Kustritz boasts the nation's fastest time this season. Kustritz also has the second-fastest time in the 200 breast (2:14.33) and the 200 IM (2:01.66).  She owns four Denison varsity records and was named national swimmer of the week on four occasions in 2017-18.

Thanks to a diverse and deep roster, Denison will have entries in all 20 events.  DU is especially deep in the 200 and 400 IMs.  Kustritz, Natalie Zaravella (13th), Halli Garza (14th), Bridget Horton (21st) and Erica Hsu (23rd) will all be looking to score points in the 200 IM. 

In the 400 IM, Hsu has the team's top time at 4:25.40, which seeds her sixth heading into the championship.  Zaravella is seventh (4:25.42) while Garza checks in ninth (4:25.75).  Garza is a three-time All-American in the 400 IM with a 15th place finish in 2017 and a pair of ninth-place finishes in 2015 and 2016.  Garza's six career All-American performances make her DU's most experienced swimmer at the national level.

Casey Kirby is seeded third in 100 backstroke with a qualifying time of 55.41.  She is also seeded 10th in the 200 back behind teammate Jacquelyn Kurkjian who is ninth at 2:01.92.

In the distance freestyle events, sophomore Hannah Rusinko paces DU with an eighth-place seed time of 17:02.80 in the mile and a fourth-place seed of 4:53.10 in the 500 free. 

Denison boasts the nation's top time in the 200 medley relay at 1:40.96.  The foursome of Kirby, Kustritz, Maddie Hopkins and Gabriella Nutter broke the varsity record with that time at the Miami Invitational in December.

Sophomore Allison Fitzgerald will represent Denison in both diving events for the second-straight year.  She is coming off a runner-up finish on the 3-meter board at the NCAA Diving Regionals that punched her ticket to nationals.  Fitzgerald placed seventh on the 1-meter board and ninth on the 3-meter board in at last year's NCAA Championship.

The Big Red's national team roster consists of the following…

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