GREENSBORO, N.C.— Only 31 points separate the Denison women's swimming & diving team from the team lead at the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship. Through 10 of 20 events, the Big Red has totaled 223 points and sits in third place. Kenyon is second with 230 points and defending champion, Emory is first with 254 points.
The Big Red took its first lead of this year's championship after an outstanding 32-point showing in the 100 fly. Maddie Hopkins led the way with a national runner-up finish in 54.75 to earn 17 points toward Denison's cause. Zoe Whelan touched seventh in the championship final in 55.51. In the consolation final, Kate Mesaros hit the wall in 55.79 to finish 14th. After the event, Denison had 189 points while Emory followed with 187 points.
Emory took back the lead in the 200 freestyle after a national title by Fiona Muir and a 10th place finish by Megan Taylor. That sent the Eagles into the 400 medley relay with a 16 point lead over second-place Kenyon and a 25-point lead over third-place Denison.
In the 400 medley relay, Denison checked into the race as the second seed after a 3:44.09 in prelims. Emory got out in front on the backstroke leg but KT Kustritz closed the gap and had Denison within striking distance at the midway point. Hopkins hit the water and put her team in front with a 53.89 100 fly split but Emory's anchor, Fiona Muir, posted a 48.88 100 free split to edge the Big Red at the wall. Emory touched in 3:40.66 while Denison followed 0.11 behind at 3:40.77.
The first individual event of the night was the 400 IM and Natalie Zaravella and Erica Hsu reached the championship final after placing fourth and sixth, respectively in prelims. In the final, Zaravella held serve with a fourth-place time of 4:19.89 which was also a personal best. Hsu touched in eighth place with a time of 4:26.23. For Zaravella, it marked a one spot improvement over her fifth-place showing in 2018.
In the opening event of the night, the 200 free relay team of Hopkins, Casey Kirby, Gabriella Nutter, and Kustritz placed third with a time of 1:31.95. This was a one spot improvement over last year's fourth-place showing. Kustritz anchored the relay with a 22.73 50 free split.
Friday's events at the Division III swimming & diving championship include the 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, the women's 1-meter dive and the 800 free relay.