The powerhouses were out to play on night one of the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships, with most of the wins going to traditional powerhouse schools.
Unlike Division I, this four-day meet has a full schedule of events in the first finals session, so we can already see some scores starting to line out.
Women’s 1000 Free Final
At last year’s NCAA Championship meet, only a single swimmer broke 10 minutes in this 1000 free, which is a unique event from what most swim fans are used to at the Division I Championships. This season, though, the top three all cracked that significant if somewhat arbitrary barrier with Florida Southern freshman Allison Crenshaw winning in 9:57.29.
West Chester’s Lauren Carastro, who didn’t even qualify for last year’s NCAA Championship meet (nor was she swimming this race as a freshman), took 2nd in 9:59.40 and her teammate, junior Kassandra McNichol, was 3rd in 9:59.44. Tampa’s Heather Glenday just barely missed joining them with a 10:00.00, but did manage to break a School Record in the process.
Men’s 1000 Free Final
Incarnate Word’s Mark Rubin got Incarnate Words (San Antonio) off to a good start at this meet by winning the men’s 1000 free in 9:02.85. Rubin made a big move forward as a distance swimmer in 2011-2012, and this year, his senior season, he dropped another 4 seconds off of his personal best to take the National Championship. Incarnate Word probably doesn’t have the depth to hang with the Drury men, but this is the first of several possible national titles for them at this meet.
Alex Menke from Queens took 2nd in 9:09.73, and Ryan Arabejo from Drury took 3rd in 9:11.82. Other big swims including UC San Diego’s Jeremy Smith, who knocked 15 seconds off of his previous season-best to take 9th in a 9:17.
Women’s 200 IM Final
Southern Connecticut State senior Amanda Thomas won this title for the third-straight season, touching in 2:01.21. That’s about a second slower than her Division II record-setting swim from last season, but was still a fairly comfortable win over Queens freshman Caroline Arakelian in 2:02.03.
Like many of the great modern breaststrokers, Thomas won this race with easy speed on her front-half leading into a very good breaststroke leg (35.53). She ran out of gas a little at the end, allowing Arakelian to charge and put a little thrill into the crowd, but Thomas was in control of this race from start-to-finish.
Tamara Garriock from Long Island-Post, a Canadian, was 3rd in 2:02.45. Drury’s highest-finishing swimmer was freshman Agnieszka Ostrowska in 6th place, but thanks to an unrivaled depth still took the early lead in this meet.
Men’s 200 IM Final
Wayne State’s Piotr Jachowicz already broke the NCAA Division II Record in the 200 IM at the GLIAC Conference Championship meet. He wasn’t nearly out-of-juice after that, though, as he took another 1.08 off with a 1:44.82. That’s his first career national championship after finishing 2nd in this race last season.
Another sophomore, Incarnate Word’s Evandro Silva, placed 2nd in 1:46.09, with Florida Southern’s Jeff Halfacre placing 3rd in 1:46.63.
Women’s 50 Free Final
Incarnate Word’s Tanya Nascimento came within a tenth of this national record this season around Christmas time; though she wasn’t able to nudge that last bit off to get the record, she came close with a 22.76 to win her first national title in this event (though she did win the 100 as a sophomore). Nascimento, especially after swimming well in this event, is a heavy favorite in that longer sprint race.
Ashland’s Julie Widman made sure this wasn’t a runaway though; she was 2nd just .03 seconds behind in 22.79. Fairmont’s Kathryn Saurborn was 3rd in 22.99.
All three are seniors, as now the torch will pass to 4th-place finisher Kelsey Gouge, a freshman from Florida Southern, who was a 23.02.
Wayne State’s Ana Azambuja won the B-Final in 23.14.
Men’s 50 Free Final
In Grand Canyon’s final season in Division II before transitioning to Division I next season, they’ll have at least one name in the record books. Junior Michael Branning won the men’s 50 free in 19.81, topping a great three-way battle with Ouachita Baptist’s Marcus Schlesinger (19.84) and Bridgeport’s Ruben Gimenez (19.95). Queens freshman Michael Trice was under 20 seconds in prelims, but dropped to 4th here in 20.02.
Men’s 3-Meter Final
Big scores went up on this men’s 3-meter final, with St. Cloud State’s Luke Weber on the final dive grabbing his first national title in 563.80. He had a great battle with Clarion’s Heath Calhoun, who ultimately was 2nd in 558.90.
Women’s 200 Medley Relay Final
A veteran Wayne State relay, with three seniors and a junior, won the women’s 200 medley relay in 1:41.52. The killer leg in a well-balanced relay was a 27.55 breaststroke from that lone junior Kayla Scott, as she was joined by Sarah Maraskine, Alexandria Malfroid, and Ashley Corriveau. Scott is the second seed behind Mariya Chekanovych from Simon Fraser in Friday’s 100 breaststroke, but Scott outsplit her opponent by seven-tenths on this relay. Chekanovych was a 28.20 for their third-place relay (1:42.84).
Wingate finished in between those two teams with a 1:42.58 for 2nd place and sophomore Jasmine Arzadon split under 25 on her butterfly leg.
If the Drury women have one weakness, it’s their relays. They were 6th here, though if they continue to put all of their relays that high (not all are seeded as such) this should still be their title to lose.
Men’s 200 Medley Relay Final
The second men’s National Record of the meet went down in this men’s 200 medley relay, as Florida Southern swam a 1:27.21 to just go under the 2009 Ouachita relay that was a 1:27.25.
Their margin under the record was narrow, but their margin ahead of 2nd-place Grand Canyon was even smaller. GCU was .02 back in 1:27.23 – also under the old record. The stars for each team were Jeffrey Halfacre’s 21.99 leadoff backstroke leg, and Michael Branning’s 19.34 anchor (he of the 50 free individual title), respectively.
Bridgeport was 3rd in 1:27.82.
Live meet results available here.
Team Standings After Day 1
Women’s Top 10 after one day
1. Drury 104
2. Wingate 74
3. Incarnate Word 60
4. Simon Fraser 55
4. Wayne State 55
6. West Chester 51
7. Florida Southern 49
8. C.W. Post 46
9. Ashland 45
10. U C S D 36.5
Men’s Top 10 after one day
1. Drury 109
2. Florida Southern 89
3. Incarnate Word 85
4. Grand Canyon 73
4. Wayne State 73
6. U C S D 66
7. Bridgeport 61
8. Queens (Nc) 58
9. St. Cloud State 53
9. Wingate 53