Denison claims Seventh Consecutive NCAC Championship Title and Multiple Awards

Denison University claimed the victory on both the men’s and women’s side of the NCAC championship title for 2015. Their success in the pool – and on the diving boards – garnered them several “of the Year” awards, including both NCAC Newcomer of the Year awards.

These “of the Year” awards are designed to recognize the achievements of coaches and athletes from their performances at the NCAC meet. The Newcomer of the Year award for women went to DU freshman Halli Garza for her victory in the 200 IM Thursday and pool record in the 200 butterfly Saturday night. Aaron Saccurato earned his award for his performance in the 1650, with a fifteen second drop in his season-best time. He was also fourth in the 500, fifth in the 400 IM and played a role in the runner-up 800 freestyle relay.

Kenyon’s Maria Zarka and her coach Andy Scott took home the Diver of the Year and Female Diving Coach of the Year awards. Zarka claimed the win on both 1 and 3 meter. Her 1 meter score also reset the pool record and was less than four points away from the NCAC record set in 1989. This marks the second consecutive year that Zarka has topped the Female Diver of the Year poll for the NCAC award.

Also winning the award for the second consecutive year was DU’s Connor Dignan, who – with his coach Russ Burtram – collected the Male Diver and Male Diving Coach of the Year awards. Dignan swept the boards, and led a contingent of Denison divers to a 1-5 finish on 3 meter and a 1-6 finish on 1 meter. These points proved crucial to the Big Red’s overall victory.

The Female Swimmer of the Year award went – unsurprisingly – to Denison’s Campbell Costley. Costley claimed four NCAC titles over the course of the weekend, many in record setting fashion. She destroyed both the pool and NCAC records in the 500 freestyle in prelims, then again in finals, becoming the first female NCAC swimmer under the 4:50 mark. In the 1650, Costley led a 1-2 finish of DU athletes under the NCAC record by over three seconds. The 800 freestyle relay that Costley led off  also reset a pool record. And while her 200 freestyle didn’t break any records, Costley still won by nearly a second and a half.

Kenyon’s Austin Caldwell earned the Male Swimmer of the Year award. He took home seven event titles over the course of the three days of swimming and set six Trumbull Aquatic Pool records and three NCAC records. Perhaps most impressive of those is the 200 freestyle, which Caldwell won by over two seconds, broke pool and meet records and finished less than three tenths away from the National record set in 1998. That swim was also the only A cut recorded at the NCAC meet. Caldwell’s other event titles included the 100 freestyle (pool record), 400 freestyle relay (pool record), 200 freestyle relay (pool record), 400 medley relay (pool and NCAC record), 800 freestyle relay (pool and NCAC record), and a tie for first in the 50 freestyle (after setting the pool record in prelims).

The Women’s Coach of the Year award went to Andrew Brabson of Oberlin, as his women’s team quietly but confidently went on to a program highest finish in fourth at the NCAC championship, shattering school records and registering numerous NCAA DIII B cuts along the way. This Coach of the Year honor marks the first in the women’s program history at Oberlin.

The Men’s Coach of the Year Award went to Brent Noble of Wabash. While the Little Giants did not achieve their stated goal at the NCAC champs, they left no doubt that they are contenders on a larger stage. Over the course of the meet, Wabash’s team set twelve new school records and had five All-NCAC performances, including the individual win by Jack Belford in the men’s 500 freestyle. Additionally, the Little Giants marked their place in history by becoming the first team at NCACs to score more than 1000 points in fourth place. They finished the final session with a tally of 1041 points. The last time Wabash scored more than 1000 points at NCACs was in 2008.

Event Top 3 and Records: Women

In the women’s 1650, Costley topped the charts with her 16:43.71 to take down the meet record. Runner up was teammate Taylor Johns who had previously owned the NCAC record. In third was Kenyon’s Mariah Williamson.

In the 200 backstroke, Molly Willingham of DU cruised in to a 2:03.15 victory over Kenyon’s Celia Oberholzer. Third for DePauw was Kirsten Olson.

Carolyn Kane led a 1-2 sweep of the 100 freestyle for Big Red, resetting her own pool record from prelims with a 50.45, just .02 off the NCAC record set in 2009. Ashley Yearwood was second with Kenyon’s Jenner McLeod in third.

Kenyon’s Katie Kaestner claimed the 200 breaststroke crown, sweeping the breaststroke events with her final time of 2:17.79. Second for Denison was Marissa Bednarek with Kenyon’s Julia Wilson taking third.

Halli Garza bounced back from Friday with a stellar 200 butterfly performance, taking down the pool record set this year by Laura Dawson of Ohio University. Runner up also for Big Red was Krysta Garbarino with Kanchi Desai from Kenyon in third.

The final event of the women’s meet – the 400 freestyle relay – went to the squad of Kane, Yearwood, Kate Wright and Mary Van Leuven with a pool and meet record of 3:22.77, breaking the records established last year by Kenyon. The Kenyon Ladies were second with DePauw in third.

Event Top 3 and Records: Men

Saccurato of Denison claimed the top spot in the men’s mile with a 15:40.26, dropping more than 15 seconds off his top time of the season. Runner up for Kenyon was David Perez with teammate Joe Guilfoyle in third.

Harrison Curley appeared on the scene again to take down another pool and NCAC record, this time in the 200 backstroke. His final time was 1:45.61, less than three tenths off an A cut, and .7 seconds under the records he established last year. Jack Lindell of Denison was runner up with Matthew Cooper of Kenyon third.

Caldwell claimed the 100 freestyle in a 44.06 to break the pool record set last year by Conrad Wuorinen of Denison. Denison’s Ryan Fleming was runner up, also under the pool record. Third for Wabash was Elliot Johns. 

Danny Jurgens posted a 2:03.48 to win the 200 breaststroke, leading a 1-2 finish by the Lords with teammate Trevor Manz in tow for runner up. Joe Brunk of Denison was third.

Christian Josephson took the victory in the 200 butterfly with a 1:50.36. Second for Denison was Kevin Brinegar with Wabash’s Belford in third.

Dignan led the Big Red divers to a 1-6 finish on 1 meter, his total score being 564.25 to win. Second was Ben Lewis with Max Levy in third.

The 400 freestyle relay went to the quartet of Austin Pu, Joey Duronio, Caldwell and Wes Manz in a pool record time of 2:56.64. The previous record was set in 2014 by a Kenyon squad. Runner up, also under the pool record was Denison with DePauw in third.

For complete meet results, click here. 

For the NCAC video review of the final night of competition, watch:

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Andrew Majeske

Well Kenyon scored more swimming points again, and Denison capitalized on their diving. Once again it looks like Denison won’t be able to overtake Kenyon at nationals unless something changes radically between now and NCAAs. One thing that wasn’t commented upon in your article was Austin Caldwell’s 43.0 split from the 400 free relay.


Last I checked Diving is part of the sport. Let’s just pump the brakes on saying it’s a foregone conclusion that the Lords will win Nats. It will be a barnburner for sure.


Denison definitely impressed this weekend with some of their swimming times but Kenyon seems to have more guys who will place higher when there is more competition to separate the good swimmers from the great.

I’d like to say it’ll be down to the wire like last year, but Denison’s less than impressive relays have me believing Kenyon will be going in as the definite favorites.


Furthermore, Denison could have taken three if their divers out of the meet (3 divers=1 swimmer for roster size caps), plugged in their top exhibition swimmer (Hellman would have won the 200 fly but was exhibitioned!!!) and still won by 100 points. Just gotta respond to ignorant posts


On the same token you could say that Arthur Conover would have swept the distance events but swam off-events instead in a non-scoring position.

Andrew Majeske

But then we would need to compare who Kenyon exhibitioned etc. Conover would have breezed to a win in the 1650, and probably won the 500. And Seaver would have been up there too if Kenyon had really been going for it. I’ll take Kenyon by about 100 points at NCAA’s.


A pyrrhic victory for Denison. Kenyon should win Nationals by a large margin. I’m thinking the Lords will score more than 600 points. Should be epic

About Hannah Saiz

Hannah Saiz fell into a pool at age eleven and hasn't climbed out since. She attended Kenyon College, won an individual national title in the 2013 NCAA 200 butterfly, and post-graduation has seen no reason to exit the natatorium. Her quest for continued chlorine over-exposure has taken her to Wisconsin …

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