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Drama builds as Denison enters final day of NCAC's in the lead

KT Kustritz  |  Photo by Craig Hicks
KT Kustritz | Photo by Craig Hicks

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  Denison remained in first place in the overall standings thanks to four more event championships and eight top-3 performances at the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Championship.  The Big Red enters the final day clinging to a nine-point lead over second-place Kenyon.  The Big Red has totaled 1,317 points while the Ladies have amassed 1,308.

Denison junior KT Kustritz captured her third-straight championship in the 100 breaststroke and she did it in record fashion, smashing her old conference record of 1:01.74 with a winning time of 1:00.47.  This marked Kustritz' fourth conference record of the meet, so far.

Following in fourth place in the 100 breast was junior Kate Mesaros who matched her season-best time in 1:02.40.  Olivia Lantry landed a 'B' cut with her time of 1:04.80.  In seventh place, Marie Lehman touched in 1:04.86 and Michaela Morrison was eighth in 1:05.31.

Denison sophomore Maddie Hopkins continued to make her case for Swimmer of the Meet after an impressive win in the 100 fly.  After a season-best time of 54.63 in preliminaries, Hopkins returned with a time of 54.68 in the finals.  Second-place went to Mesaros in 55.81 and Angela Le took fifth with a season-best 'B' cut time of 56.17.

In the 400 IM, Natalie Zaravella successfully defended her title with a time of 4:24.03.  She trimmed nearly three seconds off her winning time from last season.  The Big Red has won eight of the last 10 400 IM championships.  Landing an all-conference certificate with a third-place finish was Kaila Byerly who posted a season-best time of 4:32.52.  Grace Kacmarek (4:33.00) and Bridget Horton (4:33.54) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Junior Allison Fitzgerald won her sixth NCAC diving crown in six tries.  She posted an 11-dive score of 447.40 to become the diving program's all-time leader in conference championships.  Junior Naomi Clayton was the runner-up with a score of 423.90 and senior Emma Weber was fourth at 405.55.

The 100 backstroke saw Le improve upon her previous 'B' cut with a third-place finish and a time of 56.60.  Casey Kirby touched seventh in 57.49.

In the 200 freestyle, DU placed four swimmers in the top-10, led by Spencer Crawford's fifth-place time of 1:52.47.  Mia Chiappe touched sixth in 1:52.72 followed by Logan Wickman (7th – 1:53.14) and Gabriella Nutter (10th – 1:56.29).

The Big Red returns on Saturday for finals in the 1,650 free, 100 IM, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly and the 400 free relay.  Denison is seeking its 11th NCAC Women's Swimming & Diving Championship and its ninth out of the last 11 years.