Indian River Men, Women Lead after Day 2 of NJCAA National Championship Meet

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 0

March 05th, 2020 News

2020 NJCAA Swimming & Diving Championships

The 2020 National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA), a national governing body for community college, state college, and junior college athletics, kicked off on Wednesday in Fort Pierce, Florida. Fort Pierce is home to the NJCAA’s dominant force in swimming, Indian River State College, which has won every men’s title dating back to 1975 and every women’s title dating back to 1983.

Most NJCAA schools are 2-year institutions, making the national championship meet, in addition to its own importance as a championship meet, a showcase for swimmers seeking to transfer to 4 year schools in the NCAA or NAIA next season.

The IRSC Pioneers are well on their way to continuing their streaks, with both the men’s and the women’s team taking commanding leads after 2 days of racing, but the gap is narrowing on the men’s side, at least.

That became most obvious on Thursday when Iowa Central handed Indian River a rare relay loss in the men’s 200 free relay with a 1:20.61. That included a 19.54 leadoff from Billy Cruz, followed by Vincent Fletcher (20.43), Tjeerd van Stein (20.71), and Emile Lutzeler (19.93). Cruz made headlines earlier in the season when he swam a 19.10 in the 50 yard free to almost break Brad Tandy’s NJCAA record.

Earlier in the meet, Iowa Central went 1-2-4 in the individual 50 free, led by Cruz in 19.57, Lutzeler in 20.33, and Fletcher in 21.00.

Barton Community College finished 2nd in that relay and Indian River 3rd. Iowa Central was the only school with any swimmers sub-19 on the 200 free relay, and they had two of them.

As confirmed by their 340 point margin after 2 days (more than double 2nd-place Barton), the Indian River women have been the more dominant of the two Pioneers programs so far. Through 2 days of racing, the IRSC women have won every single event.

That includes two individual and two relay wins from Savanna Best, who last year won all 4 of her individual events at this meet. In the 50 breaststroke on Wednesday, she won by over a second in 28.91 – Barton’s Fanny Courbot was the only other swimmer under 30 seconds in 29.99. She wont hat race last season in a time .14 seconds faster (after setting the NJCAA Record in prelims in 28.45).

On Thursday, Best earned a 2nd individual win via a 4:26.44 in the women’s 400 IM – over 11-seconds better than her competition. That’s a new event for her this season, shifting to the 400 IM to avoid the day 1 double on the 200 IM and 50 breast (she didn’t swim the 200 IM this season).

Even without her, Indian River took the top 4 spots in the women’s 200 IM, led by Hannah Kiely in 2:03.38.

Men’s Winners, Days 1 + 2

  • Ryan Downing of Barton Community College won the men’s 50 breaststroke in 25.12: his only individual swim of the meet so far. Barton racked up wins in the men’s sprints early in this meet: Aidan Gantenbein won the men’s 50 back in 23.17.
  • Indian River got their first win when Elias Contogonas won the men’s 1000 freestyle in 9:27.22 – more than 5-seconds ahead of his teammate Maxwell Miller (9:32.68). The Indian River distance group (along with their IMers, see next bullet point), are the primary reason for the Pioneers’ early lead at the meet.
  • 2nd-year Indiana River swimmer Jarryd Baxter of South Africa is lined up as the star of the men’s meet for the 2nd-straight year. After winning all 4 of his individual events last season, Baxter’s meet began on Wednesday with a win in the 200 IM in 1:48.65, leading a second-straight IRSC 1-2-3 finish. That time was eight-tenths slower than he was last season. On Thursday, he won the 200 free, a race he didn’t swim at last year’s meet, in 1:40.22 for his second individual win. He also anchored Indian River’s winning men’s 400 medley relay (3:18.11) with a 44.40 freestyle split. Setting up for a successful run later in the meet, Indian River had the fastest split on all but one leg of that 400 medley relay, the butterfly leg, where Cruz’s 47.16 led all swimmers.
  • In spite of the aforementioned loss, Indian River is still 2-for-3 in men’s relays through 2 days of competition. The group of Jaccob CampAramis RiveraBrennan Hammond, and Elias Contogonas combined for a 6:48.06, beating Iowa Central by almost 6 seconds. Hammond had the top split of the field in 1:40.24.
  • Even without Baxter (who swam the 200 free instead), Indian River still had a comfortable win in the men’s 400 IM thanks to a 3:55.68 from Aramis Rivera. That was more than 6-seconds better than Barton runner-up Christopher Sprenger.
  • Cruz added a second win, and backed up his earlier relay split, by topping the men’s 100 fly in 47.44. That’s within a second of the NJCAA Record set by Nicholas Loomis in 2017.

Women’s Day 1 + 2 Winners

  • First-year Indian River swimmer Victoria Ortiz won the women’s 1000 free in 10:10.93, leading a 1-2-3 finish for the Pioneers.
  • Emma Colvin won the women’s 50 free in 23.42, dropping three-tenths (and improving a spot) from her runner-up finish last season. The Indian River sprint crew isn’t quite as deep this season as last season, where the women went 1-2-3-4 in the 50 free.
  • In spite of that, the Pioneers cruised to a win in the 200 free relay, with Kiely (23.73), Colvin (23.02), Camryn Hudson (24.01), and Ortiz (24.81) defending the NJCAA title in the event.
  • Indian River also won the 400 medley relay by more than 11 seconds (3:44.74), including a 1:02.50 breaststroke split from Best; and the 800 free relay by almost 16 seconds in 7:35.26, including a 1:52.23 split from Hudson.
  • So dominant is Indian River in the 200 free that even without entries from 2 of the 4 swimmers on their 800 free relay, the Pioneers finished 1-2-3-5 in the individual 200 free. That was led by a victory from Ortiz (1:52.01), followed by Charlise Oberholzer, who was also on the 800 free relay, in 1:52.21. Oberholzer was runner-up last year as well, albeit in a time that was a second slower, behind Camry Wheals, who is now at UNLV.
  • Colvin, after a 54-second medley relay split, won the individual women’s 100 fly in 55.09, leading yet another 1-2-3 finish for Indian River.
  • Kiely picked up her 2nd win of the meet in the women’s 50 backstroke, finishing in 26.12.

Team Scores After Day 2:

Men’s Scores:

  1. Indian River State College – 54.05
  2. Barton Community College – 391
  3. Iowa Central Community College – 389
  4. Southwestern Oregon CC – 255
  5. Iowa Lakes Community College – 120
  6. Monroe Community College – 116
  7. South Georgia State College – 106.5
  8. Genesee Community College – 51
  9. Erie Community College – 50

Women’s Scores:

  1. Indian River State College – 641
  2. Barton Community College – 301
  3. Iowa Central Community College – 271
  4. Southwestern Oregon CC – 255
  5. South Georgia State College – 222
  6. Monroe Community College – 103
  7. Fashion Institute of Technology – 68
  8. Genesee Community College – 26
  9. Rose State College – 13
  10. Iowa Lakes Community College – 7


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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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