DIII Women’s Midseason Power Rankings: Emory Atop Standings, JHU Making Some Noise

by Hannah Saiz 5

January 03rd, 2014 College, NCAA Division III, News

>​So, after some heavy duty training, December’s midseason meets gave us all some fast swims to marvel at and enjoy. But the big question on everyone’s mind is always – so what next? Midseason is a great way to look forward to what might be coming up in March for those athletes who will be rep-ing their teams at IUPUI in March for the NCAA meet.

There have been a lot of women dropping some pretty dang fast times, and the meet for this coming year seems to be shaping up to be – if it’s possible – even more exciting than in years past. A few new players have emerged on the scene, and it will be fun to see what these teams can do.

In creating this ranking, I’ve gone through a lot of trouble trying to keep it as unbiased as possible. For example, out of the top four teams at NCAAs last year, Emory graduated the most points in their senior class, and Denison graduated the least. I’ve also taken and ​shuffled in ​up-and-coming swimmers into the Top 16 mix from last years Nationals (sans graduated seniors), and built aggregate relays for teams – like Emory – who didn’t field 800 free relays at midseason, or teams – like Gustavus – who didn’t play their four fastest cards in a given relay.

Part of the process, too, is in how teams have showed up at NCAAs and Conference champs in years past, to qualify swimmers and to drop significant amounts of time that could place them higher than midseason might otherwise indicate. ​​

And without futher ado, the results for the top 25 teams after midseason are these:

25) Trinity (TX) (Last year #15)
Ashley Heline qualified and did pretty well at NCAAs as a freshman; with added experience comes the possibility to do more, making up for the graduating seniors. However, this diver doesn’t have any swimmers who might join her so far.
 
24) SUNY Geneseo (Last year #21)
Abigail Max is Geneseo’s bid for points so far, with the potential to be invited and to score top sixteen in either the 200 or 500 freestyle.
23) Rochester
Rochester has three relays just on the cusp of the B cut, and top 8 ranked Lauren Bailey to lean on for leadership at this year’s coming NCAAs.
 
22) Redlands (Last year #22) 
Chandra Lukes won the 100 freestyle last year, but she doesn’t look to have any friends joining her on the trip to the NCAA meet so far this year.
 
21) Calvin (Last year #13)
Calvin graduated about half the points it scored at NCAAs last year, and so far only has one athlete in the top 16 of the nation’s current rankings in Michalea Rookus in the 100 breaststroke.
 
20) New York University
Another team breaking into the NCAA meet who wasn’t there last year, NYU has a sprint backstroke/butterflier and a distance swimmer both ranked top 16 in their events. They also have a top 8 200 medley relay which could prove interesting.
 
19) UW Whitewater (Last year #19)
Amy Spaay  swept the breaststroke events in 2013 as well as setting a new meet record in the 100; she doesn’t have any teammates joining her in the top 16 list so far this year.
 
18) Grove City (Last year #9)
After graduating 20 points with their senior class, and only qualifying two athletes top 16 it might be a battle for Grove City to show up the same way they did last year at NCAAs.
 
17) Case Western (Last year #40) 
The case for Case is simple – no points graduated last year, and they have Maggie Dillione who on her own could take top eight points in both butterfly events.
 
16) Carnegie Mellon
CMU wasn’t at Nationals last year, so having four girls top 16 after midseason has got to be exciting. Gillian Crews is their top ranked swimmer – a freshman flier.
 
15) Luther  (Last year #23)
Luther has a pair of top 8 relays and the second fastest backstroker so far this year in Clare Slagel. Teammate Erin Connolly also is top 16.
 
14) Stevens  (Last year #7)
Brittany Geyer is top sixteen in just about everything she swims – getting her a team to back it up is the next step. Stevens has a few decent relays, but none have crossed the B cut standard yet this year.
 
13) Depauw  (Last year #27)
Freshmen Angela Newlon and Emily Weber look like they will be the forces carrying the Depauw team at the NCAA meet this year. Newlon’s ranked top 16 in three events; Weber, in one. And…Depauw’s women have a pretty slick looking 800 freelay, too.
 
12) Springfield (Last year #14) 
Springfield lost no points to graduating seniors from last year’s NCAA, they have a few relays ranking top 16 in the nation at this point, and D3’s fastest 50 freestyle so far this year in Kellie Pennington. 
 
11) Wash U. MO (Last year #12) 
The ladies of Wash U have some medley relays to watch, as well as a strong group of swimmers currently ranked in the top 20 of individual events. Amanda Stadermann is in a tight 200 fly field, and Kristalyn McAfee might be the hope for Wash U’s top scorer in the 200 free.
 
10) Gustavus (Last year #10)
Gustavus has a number of possible top 16 contenders, and two top eight relays. Alissa Tinklenberg may manage a top 8 finish at NCAAs as well, bolstered by her teammates. If sprint relays show up, there could be some seriously fun action to watch. And since they haven’t graduated any of their scoring cast from last year – the team leadership will only have grown more experienced.
 
9) Chicago (Last year # 24) 
I still don’t quite know where Chicago came from this year – only that even before midseason I was looking at their relays and wondering Who are these guys? For a little while, the Chicago women had the fastest relay times in each event, and while quite a few teams have since stepped up, they haven’t pushed Chicago out of the mix at all. Individually, the Maroons still have a host of athletes who could potentially step up and score in that top 16 at the big meet.
 
8) MIT (Last year # 8)
It’s possible to consider the Lady Engineers a quiet force. They haven’t had the individual title winning success of their men’s team – however, the MIT women also have a bit of depth this year to consider. The biggest challenge for them will be overcoming the deficit after graduating their senior class – about a quarter of their points from last year’s nationals.
 
7) Wheaton IL (Last year #10)
Kirstin Nitz. Just about single-handedly this girl put Wheaton IL on the map last year, and with three other top 16 teammates after midseason, it’s possible she’s just getting started. The biggest question with Nitz isn’t if she’ll win, but rather what she might win. With some help from Nitz’ backup and the sprint freelay potential, Wheaton IL could be a team to watch in future years as well.
 
6) Amherst (Last year #6)
While Amherst hasn’t currently qualified anyone top 16 for Nationals – relays, or individual – the program does have a history of showing up in a big way at NESCACs, and they do still have their second and third place diver from last year’s NCAA: Kaitlyn Linsmayer. Also keep an eye on IM specialist Emily Hyde who was top 8 last year and who could make a ruckus in the 400 IM or 200 breaststroke this year.
 
5) Williams (Last year #4)
Over the past few years the Ephs have lost some serious studs. After graduating Todhunter and Wilson, Williams might be seriously hurting for a top notch point scorer to carry the team. Still, last year Sarah Thompson showed that she could be ready to step into the role of top scorer for the Ephs, and if her talent can inspire some seriously hardcore swimming from the Ephs, it’s not impossible that they’ll have a strong team come NCAAs, despite having their late-start season and the fact that after midseason, only Thompson and Megan Pierce show up in a nation-wide top 16 ranking.
 
4) Kenyon (Last year #2)
The Ladies only lost four seniors last year, but 2013 was a powerful – and versatile – group. As of midseason, most of the Kenyon swimmers are sitting at or just below the 8th place line in national rankings individually, with only Mariah Willaimson and Katie Kaestner showing high enough in the standings to do some real damage at this point. Kaestner may pull off an individual event win at the NCAA meet (100 br) and anything is possible in a mile, but it looks like the Ladies will have their work cut out for them in March. However, Kenyon’s NCAA roster will also be bolstered by some freshmen who could be the lights-out swimmers they’ll need this year.
 
3) Denison (Last year #3)
The Big Red women pack a punch, and this year looks to be no different. The seniors who graduated last year took with them the smallest number of points from the top four teams at the 2013 NCAAs, and it’s clear that this year’s freshmen may be” The Something” to watch at Nats. The class of 2017 has got some incredible sprinting power, which will be fun to watch come out and play. Campbell Costley and Carolyn Kane have already begun making their mark on the nation’s top 16, especially in the freestyle events. NCAA veterans Natalie Lugg and Michelle Howell may also have some speedy surprises tucked up their sleeves.
 
2) Johns Hopkins University (Last year #5)
Maybe a surprise to see JHU listed at the top, but based on their dominance after midseason in relays, I think these guys are a team well worth looking at as a serious threat. JHU hasn’t lost any points from last year’s NCAA team, which puts them in a very strong position as well, with athletes who are experienced, and nearing their peak conditioning. Ana Bogdanovski and Taylor Kitayama have been very dominant in the freestyle sprints and backstroke/IM respectively, and their combined leadership might just be the magic touch to guide JHU to an upset that could surprise just about everyone.
 
1) Emory (Last year #1)
While Emory has held onto its winning streak for the past four years, this year might turn out to be a little more challenging for the Eagles. The Eagles won by 136 points in 2013. However, they graduated 133 points with their senior class, more than twice as many points as any other team. Additionally, outside of the 200 breaststroke and the 200 IM, Emory’s event depth seems to be spread pretty thin at this point. Add that to a less than stellar showing in the relays at midseason (not surprising since most of their NCAA relays last year were 3/4 seniors), and it’s possible the Lady Eagles might just be in for an end to their title streak in March. However, Emory consistently qualifies the top number of individuals for NCAAs and knows how to show up when it’s time to go fast, so when push comes to shove, you’ll most likely be looking at the Lady Eagles on top of the dog pile for another year.

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JHUPOP

Enjoyed your analysis. Only comment I have is Taylor Kitayama of JHU is definitely a dominant swimmer but not in freestyle sprints; she’s currently 1st in 100 Back, 1st in 200 Back, 1st in 200 IM, 5th in 100 Fly and 7th in 200 Free…its not that she couldn’t BE dominant in sprint freestyle, she just doesn’t swim those individual events very often because her other strokes are so strong.

Proud Old Jay

Smok’em Jays! Seriously George Kennedy is one if the best coaches and men in the sport! These must be extrodinary women. Keep up the good work in “the city that reads”

Swimfan

Emory women have actually won for the past four years, not three. Soon to be five years in a row.

Swimfan – right you are. Correction made above.

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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