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First Night of Division III Nationals in the Books

Pick your storyline from the first night of the NCAA Division III Swimming Championships.
  • Caroline Wilson wins back-to-back events;
  • A Depew 1-2 in the 200 IM
  • Kenyon's return
  • Emory Piles On
  • MIT's Smart Guys Can Sprint
Each narrative is compelling in and of its own, but together they made for an interesting first night at the Conroe ISD Natatorium.  By the end of the evening Emory University, despite not winning an event, opened up a 47.5 lead over Kenyon in the women's meet.  The Lords' meanwhile, find themselves in the lead for the first time since the 2011 showdown in Tennessee.

Williams' Wilson became the first woman in over twenty years to win back-toback events when she captured both the 500 Freestyle and 200 IM.  Neither race, however was a cakewalk for the senior who now has ten titles who her name. In the 500 Free Wilson set the pace but couldn't shake her likely heir-apparent in Sarah Thompson.  Thompson, in fact, out-split Wilson over the last 250 yards to finish in 4:47.99, just 0.83 behind Wilson.

The quick pace of the evening's meet - a large contrast to the morning relays - took their toll on Wilson however.  Just forty minutes after her title and moments after the 500 free awards ceremony, Wilson captured the 200 IM.  While the championship was never up for debate, Williams 6/10 slower than her Division III record of 1:58.81 set in the morning.  MIT's Anna Kokensparger finished second, two seconds back while Denison's Michelle Howell finished third.  Amherst's Emily Hyde added two seconds to finish fourth.


On the men's side, Allen Weik successfully defended his title in the 500 freestyle with a 4:23.99 but was well off of his record of 4:21.79 set in Indianapolis a year ago.  Kenyon's Galen Sollom-Brotherton made a big move in the final 50 - surging from fifth to second in 4:27.47. 

Jeffrey DePew was the third swimmer of the night to repeat his event title.  Depew was 4/10 faster than he was a year ago, but what made the night even more special for the Redlands sophomore was having big brother Christopher in the big final with him.  Last year the elder Depew failed to make the big final but tonight the two stood side-by-side in lanes three and four.  Less than a couple minutes later (metaphorically) he pair would find themselves side-by-side on the awards stand.    The pair overcame an early charge by Denison's Quinn Bartlett.  Bartlet and Kenyon's Jimmy Douglas opened up nearly a body length on the pair before being reeled in on the breaststroke leg.  It was the third year in a row that Redlands' captured the 200 IM.

In the 50 freestyle Wheaton's Kirsten Nitz became Jon Leaderhouse's first NCAA Champion since 2000.  The Wheaton-IL freshman wasn't the first off the blocks, but she outswam the field en route to a 22.87.  The time was 0.05 off of her morning swim and 0.21 slower than her time from last month's CCIW Championships, but it was 2/10 ahead of Springfield's Kellie Pennington. 

On the men's side six of the eight finalists went slower than their morning time, none moreso than MIT's Wyatt Ubellacker.  Ubellacker added 3/10 but that was more than enough to edge Carleton's Erik Klontz and Kenyon's Curtis Ramsey.  Those three, plus W&L's Ricky Sykes (in the morning) were all under 20.0 - the most ever in a Division III final. 

While Emory was running away with the team title, the Kenyon women made a statement and showed that they're back with a convincing win in the 200 Medley Relay.  Rachel Flinn, Katie Kastner, Hannah Saiz and Hillary Yarosh crushed the field to win in 1:41.60 - just 4/10 off of Denison's record. 

With the most qualifiers, MIT's were the sentimental favorite to win this year's men's meet.  To do so, however, it was felt that they would have to swim the perfect meet.  The final event of the night showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with.  The  Engineers captured the final relay in 1:28.57.  Denison jumped out to an early lead, but a 20.44 butterfly split from Ubellacker set up a showdown between MIT's Craig Cheney and Denison's Bartlett.  Cheney outsplit Bartlett by 0.08 to give the Engineers a win by 0.09. 












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