Denison Women Edge Kenyon College to Claim 11th NCAC Championship in Program History

GRANVILLE, Ohio (February 11, 2023) – The Denison University women’ swimming & diving team captured its 11th North Coast Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday night as they closed out the four-day meet with 2,007 points to defeat second-place Kenyon College (1,943.5) by 63.5 points.

Kerstyn Johnson, a sophomore from Lawrenceville, New Jersey, earned the 2022 NCAC Women’s Diver of the Year award after bringing home the conference title in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives. Johnson started things off on Wednesday with a provisional regional qualifying score of 479.30 in the finals of the 3-meter dive before setting another provisional regional qualifying score at 427.20 in the finals of the 1-meter dive on Friday.

Quinn Brown, a freshman from Portland, Oregon, earned the 2023 NCAC Women’s Newcomer of the Year award after claiming two All-NCAC certificates with one victory and a pair of fourth-place finishes. She helped the Big Red get off to a great start by winning the 800 freestyle relay with a new Denison varsity record, pool record, NCAC record and NCAA Division III National “B” cut time of 7:17.09 on Wednesday. She then finished third in the 500 freestyle with a National “B” cut time of 4:55.84 on Thursday, and was fourth in the 200 freestyle with a “B” cut time of 1:51.50 on Friday. Lastly, Brown was fourth in the 1,650 freestyle with a “B” cut time of 17:02.88 on Saturday.

The 1,650 freestyle started off the final night, and Denison claimed three of the top-four spots as Taryn Wisner won it and broke her own varsity record with an NCAA Division III National “B” cut time of 16:34.89. Tara Witkowski was second with a National “B” cut time of 16:50.81 and Brown was fourth with her “B” cut time of 17:02.88.

Denison finished 2-4 in the 100 IM as Christina Crane (56.11) and Phoebe Ferguson (57.43) earned all-conference honors in second and third place, respectively, while Esme Wright (58.09) was fourth.

Claire Moody placed fourth in the 200 backstroke in 2:06.29 and Emma Pritchett touched in fifth in 2:06.38 while Keyon swept the podium.

In the 100 freestyle, Tara Culibrk earned Denison’s third win of the day with a “B” cut time of 49.92 seconds in the 100 freestyle while Natalie English was fourth with a “B” cut time of 51.53 seconds. Annie Pfeufer followed in fifth place at 51.63 seconds while Grace Kadlecik was seventh at 52.24 seconds as the Big Red finished with four swimmers in the top-seven.

In the 200 breaststroke, Drue Thielking (2:15.93) and Savannah Sargent (2:18.65) both earned an all-conference certificate by finishing in second and third place, respectively.

After entering the final day with a lead of 60.5 points, Denison pushed its advantage to as much as 97.5 points after both the 1,650 freestyle and the 100 IM before Kenyon got to as close to within 32.5 points (1,849-1,816.5) following the 200 breaststroke.

Fortunately for the Big Red, in the final individual event of the meet, the 200 butterfly, Maria Mrosko earned all-conference in second place with a National “B” cut time of 2:05.22 while Emma Berdelman (2:06.26) was fourth and Amber Croonquist (2:06.50) was fifth to make it three Big Red swimmers in the top-five. That gave Denison a 55.5-point edge (1,937-1881.5) with just one more event to go.

Needing just to place in the 400 freestyle relay to clinch the win, the Big Red (Ferguson, Pfeufer, English, Culibrk) closed out the meet in style with a win and a National “B” cut time of 3:23.05 while Kenyon was second at 3:23.12.

Over the course of the four-day meet, Denison totaled 10 event wins at the championship out of 21 total events, and posted 31 all-conference finishes. Taryn Wisner (800 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 1,650 freestyle) and Tara Culibrk (800 freestyle relay, 200 freestyle relay, 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay) each played a part in four NCAC Championships for the Big Red.

NCAC Championships:
Taryn Wisner – 1,650 freestyle – 16:34.89
Tara Culibrk – 100 freestyle – 49.92
Phoebe FergusonAnnie PfeuferNatalie EnglishTara Culibrk – 400 freestyle relay – 3:23.05

All-NCAC Performances (Top-3):
Taryn Wisner – first place in the 1,650 freestyle – 16:34.89
Tara Witkowski – second place in the 1,650 freestyle – 16:50.81
Christina Crane – second place in the 100 IM – 56.11
Phoebe Ferguson – third place in the 100 IM – 57.43
Tara Culibrk – first place in the 100 freestyle – 49.92
Drue Thielking – second place in the 200 breaststroke – 2:15.93
Savannah Sargent – third place in the 200 breaststroke – 2:18.65
Maria Mrosko – second place in the 200 butterfly – 2:05.22
Phoebe FergusonAnnie PfeuferNatalie EnglishTara Culibrk – first place in the 400 freestyle relay – 3:23.05

NCAA Division III National “B” cuts:
Taryn Wisner – 1,650 freestyle finals – 16:34.89
Tara Witkowski – 1,650 freestyle finals – 16:50.81
Quinn Brown – 1,650 freestyle finals – 17:02.88
Tara Culibrk – 100 freestyle finals – 49.92
Tara Culibrk – 100 freestyle prelims – 49.89
Natalie English – 100 freestyle finals – 51.53
Natalie English – 100 freestyle prelims – 51.51
Drue Thielking – 200 breaststroke finals – 2:15.93
Drue Thielking – 200 breaststroke prelims – 2:18.33
Savannah Sargent – 200 breaststroke finals – 2:18.65
Savannah Sargent – 200 breaststroke prelims – 2:19.22
Maria Mrosko – 200 butterfly finals – 2:05.22
Amber Croonquist – 200 butterfly prelims – 2:05.25
Phoebe FergusonAnnie PfeuferNatalie EnglishTara Culibrk – 400 freestyle relay – 3:23.05

Day Four Results
Full Meet Results

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3 months ago

No write up on Kenyon Men’s championship?

3 months ago

Kenyon and Denison are powerhouses in D3, they can even beat some D1 teams.
It’s cool to see these two teams compete against each other.

3 months ago

pretty surprising team result. I know this meet isn’t a focus for Kenyon, and I’d still say Kenyon has an edge at nationals, but Denison was quite impressive here. Women’s team title race should be a lot more fun than I would have expected a few months ago.

On the mens side I rly just think Emory will run away with it still but Kenyon did look good at this meet.

3 months ago

Show UAA!

Ice Golem
3 months ago


Reply to  Ice Golem
3 months ago

Ice Golem try not to get triggered that some teams get a conference meet challenge: impossible edition

Electro Wizard
Reply to  Ice Golem
3 months ago

Least obvious hopkins swimmer

3 months ago

It’s from night 2 but DePauw senior Ben Hilfinger shocked the whole building on night 2 winning the 50 free out of lane 8 with no one thinking anything before that he could. His best time going into finals was 20.70 bright it down to 20.17… Tied the team record from the supersuit era. Keep an eye on him at NC’s as he could make some noise there for DePauw.

Last edited 3 months ago by PFA
Reply to  PFA
3 months ago

DePauw just generally looked pretty good. (Lots of women sneaking into that top 9!)

And was cool seeing so many women from Wooster in the finals heat of the mile.

Reply to  Thirteenthwind
3 months ago

Yeah the girls also did really well. A lot more depth in events for them then I believe last year. The only issue with the guys is depth and divers… but arguably the guys did better this year than last year regardless of getting 5th. It’s that the whole conference is getting a lot deeper so it’s not too surprising that there’s going to be battles for certain spots.

Reply to  PFA
3 months ago

What a great result for Ben in the 50. I love the explosion of excitement when the results came up. The DePauw team was so great to watch and might have had the most team spirit there.

Reply to  PFA
3 months ago

This was pretty cool. I was front row for that result, supporting Kenyon. His facial expression was awesome! Great to see DePauw and other schools becoming more competitive. That’s good for everyone.