2017 NAIA National Championships: SCAD Takes Lead w/ Day 1 800 Relays

2017 NAIA National Championships

The Savannah College of Art and Design leads the way on both the men’s and women’s sides of the competition after one day of swimming at the 2017 NAIA National Swimming and Diving Championships in Columbus, Georgia.

The first session in Columbus was more of a mini-session, featuring only morning finals of the 800 free relays, as the NAIA moves closer to the NCAA National Championships schedule. Tonight, the athletes will have a night off to attend the NAIA Nationals Banquet, and they’ll be back in the water tomorrow for a full prelims/finals two-session day. Going into tomorrow, SCAD sits on top of the men’s and women’s point totals with 40 points, followed by Olivet Nazarene (on both sides) with 34 points.

Women’s 800 Free Relay- Final

  • Meet Record: 7:26.93, 2012, Fresno Pacific (Coffman / Turner / Gjemmestad / Carter)
  1. SCAD (Julie Woody, Julie Henniger, Rebecca Justus, Abigail Richey): 7:29.82
  2. Olivet Nazarene (Andrea Vega, Amanda Moran, Deirdre Gerke, Tiffany Ray): 7:35.45
  3. Biola (Emily Silzel, Rebecca Brandt, Bethany Harper, Lisa Tixier): 7:41.71

The women of SCAD had an easy win in the 800 free relay, with all of their swimmers but one outsplitting the entire field. Senior Julie Woody (1:51.78), sophomore Julie Henninger (1:51.94), junior Rebecca Justus (1:53.86), and sophomore Abigail Richey (1:52.24)  teamed up for 7:29.82 to set a new school record and take the event by nearly six seconds. The previous school record was a 7:32.83 from last year’s meet.

Second place went to Olivet Nazarene’s Andrea Vega (1:53.41), Amanda Moran (1:53.36), Deirdre Gerke (1:54.41), and Tiffany Ray (1:54.27). The Tigers were another six seconds ahead of Biola squad Emily Silzel (1:56.83), Rebecca Brandt (1:58.23), Bethany Harper (1:55.73), and Lisa Tixier (1:50.92).

Tixier had the top flying start split of the field by nearly a second, but she isn’t even entered in the individual 200. Nor is Woody, the top flat-start swimmer.

Other notable splits came from Brenau’s Courtney Hayward (flying start 1:52.72), Lindsey Wilson’s #2 seed in the 200 Jessica Macdonald (flying start 1:52.27), Morningside’s Suzanna Gonzalez (flat start 1:54.05), and College of Idaho’s McKayla Stevens (flying start 1:54.96)

Men’s 800 Free Relay- Final

  • Meet Record: 6:34.98, 3/6/2014, SCAD (Joel Ax / P Cardillo / R Searles / M Shvartsman)
  1. SCAD (Ryan Sweat, Josh Smilie, Joel Thatcher, Joel Ax): 6:36.53
  2. Olivet Nazarene (Charles Bennett, Joshua Bouma, Vladislav Khoroletc, Daniil Kuzman): 6:38.44
  3. Keiser (Justin Lewis, Nick Oh, Joaquin Uz, Wyatt Engler): 6:46.82

The men of SCAD held off a fight from Olivet Nazarene with a massive back half swim in the men’s 800 free relay. Though Olivet Nazarene had nearly a seven-second lead at the halfway mark, after SCAD’s Ryan Sweat (1:42.69) and Josh Smilie (1:44.19) lost ground to Tigers Charles Bennett (1:38.74) and Joshua Bouma (1:40.22), SCAD’s slingshot relay strategy allowed them to regain all of the lost ground.

Third in the water for SCAD was freshman Joel Thatcher, who put up a massive 1:34.71, and his senior teammate Joel Ax split an anchor-leg 1:34.94 to seal the deal. The duo easily out-split Olivet Nazarene’s back-half Vladislav Khoroletc (1:38.97) and Daniil Kuzman (1:40.51). The final times were 6:36.53 for SCAD and 6:38.44 for Olivet Nazarene.

Third place went to NAIA newcomer Keiser, with Justin Lewis (1:42.16), Nick Oh (1:41.27), Joaquin Uz (1:42.27), and Wyatt Engler (1:41.12) teaming up for 6:46.82.

Ax and Thatcher are both entered in the individual 200, and they are now the ones to beat. Other notable splits came from Lindenwood-Belleville’s Matiji Luka Rafaj (flying start 1:40.84) and Thomas’s Alex Haymond (flying start 1:40.09)

Women’s Point Totals after Day 1

  1. SCAD 40
  2. Olivet Nazarene University 34
  3. Biola University 32
  4. Brenau University 30
  5. Lindsey Wilson College 28
  6. College of Idaho 26
  7. University of the Cumberlands 24
  8. West Virginia University-Tech 22
  9. Asbury University 18
  10. Morningside College 14
  11. Union College 12
  12. Lindenwood U- Belleville 10
  13. Soka University 8
  14. Thomas University 6
  15. Columbia College 4
  16. Tabor College Bluejays 2

Men’s Point Totals after Day 1

  1. SCAD 40
  2. Olivet Nazarene University 34
  3. Keiser University 32
  4. Lindenwood U- Belleville 30
  5. University of the Cumberlands 28
  6. Lindsey Wilson College 26
  7. Wayland Baptist University 24
  8. Asbury University 22
  9. Biola University 18
  10. Thomas University 14
  11. West Virginia University-Tech 12
  12. College of Idaho 10
  13. St Andrews University 8
  14. Union College 6
  15. Milligan College 4
  16. Tabor College Bluejays 2

“The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics.

In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character building aspects of sport. Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values.”

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Swim Mama

Great races to start this meet. Way to go SCAD Bees!

About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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