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Denison women enjoy a record-breaking Thursday night

Maddie Hopkins  |  Photo by Michael Morrison
Maddie Hopkins | Photo by Michael Morrison

GRANVILLE, Ohio—  Denison won four of five events and set new conference records in all four victories, putting an exclamation point on one of the most memorable single-session team performances in the history of the North Coast Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships.  Through seven events, Denison sits in first place with 705 points.  Kenyon is second with 661 points followed by DePauw with 371.5.

The fireworks started early for Denison as the 200 free relay team of Maddie Hopkins, Casey Kirby, Gabriella Nutter, and KT Kustritz broke the Denison varsity record, the NCAC record and the Trumbull Aquatics Center record with a winning time of 1:31.28.  Kustritz closed things out with a 22.63 anchor split, breaking the previous varsity record of 1:31.79 set by Carolyn Kane, Ashley Yearwood, Kate Wright and Mary Van Leuven in 2016.

The matchup everyone was eagerly anticipating occurred in the 200 IM where last year's conference champion and national record holder, Crile Hart of Kenyon, was set to square off against Denison's Kustritz.  This one was all Kustritz from the start as she posted new conference, pool and varsity records with a blazing time of 1:59.68.  Hart touched second in 2:02.45, well off her record time of 1:59.79 set in 2018.  For Kustritz it marks her third 'A' cut of the season.  She currently owns the nation's fastest times in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breast, and the 200 IM.

On the heels of Kustritz' win, Denison placed four swimmers in the A-Final of the 50 free and Maddie Hopkins came away with her first individual event conference championship after touching in 22.85.  That was a new season-best for Hopkins and a new NCAC record, shattering the mark of 23.19 that had been held by Denison's Olivia Zaleski since 2009.

Five DU swimmers logged top-12 finishes in the 500 freestyle, led by Caroline Colville who improved upon her previous 'B' cut in the event with an all-conference third-place showing and a time of 4:57.85.  Grace Kacmarek and Logan Wickman rounded out the A-Final with sixth and eighth place finishes, respectively.  Kacmarek touched in 5:05.38 while Wickman finished in 5:07.38. 

In the B-Final of the 500 free, Spencer Crawford won her heat with a time of 5:06.06.  Kaila Byerly placed 12th overall and third in her heat with a time of 5:12.16.

In the last event of the night, Denison's nearly perfect night was capped off by a record-setting win in the 400 medley relay as Kirby, Kustritz, Hopkins, and Chiappe hit the wall in 3:40.75, breaking the NCAC record set by Kenyon in 2013 by nearly three seconds.  It also broke the Denison varsity record of 3:41.62 that was set by Kustritz, Kirby, Le, and Nutter in 2018.

The Big Red returns to the Trumbull Aquatics Center on Friday for day three of four of the 2019 NCAC Championship.  Preliminaries begin at 9:30 a.m. with finals slated for a 6 p.m. start.