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Top-ranked women victorious at Denison Invitational

Hannah Rusinko  |  Photo by Craig Hicks
Hannah Rusinko | Photo by Craig Hicks

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  The Big Red women's swimming & diving team entered the 2018 Denison Invitational as the top-ranked team in Division III and after three days of stellar performances that national ranking was verified.  The Big Red won the Invitational with 2,479 team points.  Division I Eastern Michigan placed second with 2,046 and Emory University checked in third with 1,704 points.  Division II Wayne State placed fourth (1,263) followed by Washington-St. Louis (1,043), Ohio State (113) and Thomas More (51).

One pool record fell on Saturday night as KT Kustritz posted a rock solid 'B' cut time of 2:13.72 to win the 200 breaststroke.  Kate Mesaros finished fifth after a season-best 'B' cut of 2:17.91 in preliminaries.  Natalie Zaravella made her cut in prelims at 2:21.09 and out of the B-Final, Olivia Lantry notched a cut after a time of 2:21.70. 

In the 1,650 freestyle, Hannah Rusinko paced Denison with a fourth-place finish and a time of 17:09.75.  Zaravella touched fifth in 17:16.04 while Caroline Colville placed sixth (17:20.65) and Grace Kacmarek finished eighth in 17:30.61.  All four times were 'B' cuts.  Finishing just outside the provisional qualifying standard was first-year Megan Balbo who touched ninth with a time of 17:35.03.

Zoe Whelan led a crew of seven Denison swimmers who posted top-16 finishes in the 200 butterfly.  Whelan placed fifth after posting a 2:03.30 'B' cut in prelims. She returned with a time of 2:05.23 in the finals.  Colville placed seventh in 2:08.31 and Becca Taylor finished ninth in 2:14.35.

In the 100 freestyle, Mia Chiappe placed fourth with a 'B' cut time of 51.41.  Maddie Hopkins touched in 51.75 in prelims for her 'B' cut.  She returned to finish seventh in the finals with a time of 51.84. 

Erica Hsu turned in a 'B' cut in the 200 backstroke after a fifth-place finish and time of 2:03.13.  Bridget Horton (2:05.36), Sydney Lenz (2:07.13) and Devin Javens (2:08.02) rounded out the event in 13th, 16th, and 18th place, respectively.

Four Big Red divers competed on the 3-meter board led by Allison Fitzgerald who placed eighth with a six-dive score of 236.20.  Emma Weber followed in ninth place with a score of 232.50.  Naomi Clayton finished 11th at 213.05 and Mattie Stauss checked in 12th at 190.00.

The meet was wrapped up by a third-place performance in the 400 free relay by Chiappe, Hopkins, Sophia Gaguzis and KT Kustritz.  The foursome combined for a time of 3:26.81 which is a season-best 'B' cut for the Big Red.

Zaravella led Denison with 113 points across the three-day meet. In five events, Zaravella placed second in the 200 IM (2:03.79), third in the 400 IM (4:21.74), fifth in the 1,650 free (17:16.04), ninth in the 200 breast (2:23.37) and was a part of the third-place 800 free relay. Kustritz totaled 105 points and Colville followed with 103.

In lieu of admission to the Denison Invitational donations and non-perishable food items were collected at the gate. Over three days nearly $2,000 was collected along with 478 food items.  Donations will be made to the Market Street Pantry and the Licking County Food Pantry.