Drury avenges last year's loss to Wayne State (Mich.) with ninth national title
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Drury saved its best day for last as it pulled away for the NCAA title at the CrossPlex Natatorium.
After losing the team championship last year by one point to Wayne State, the Panthers entered the day with a less than 20-point lead on the Warriors. However, Drury was able to rally with numerous top performances on Saturday to finish with 432.5 points and the national title. Wayne State finished second with 388, while UC San Diego placed third with 313 and Incarnate Word was fourth with 252.
The night started with a tight finish in the 1,650 yard freestyle as Florida Southern’s Allison Crenshaw held on for her second national title of the week. Crenshaw, who won the 1,000 yard freestyle on Wednesday, posted a time of 16:42.58 to win the event just ahead of West Chester’s Kassandra McNichol and Incarnate Word’s Mikayla Felchak, who finished second and third, respectively, in 16:43.62 and 16:43.87.
In the 100 yard freestyle, Incarnate Word’s Tamiris Nascimento pulled away from the field as she touched the wall in 49.46 seconds, ahead of Drury’s Wai Ting Yu, who was second in 50.21, and Anjali Shakya of UC San Diego, who was third in 50.28 seconds.
Two nights after winning the first national title in school history in swimming and diving in the 400 yard IM, Queens (N.C.) freshman Caroline Arakelian added a second first-place trophy to the case. Arakelian won the 200 yard backstroke in 1:57.26, beating Wayne State’s Ana Azambuja, who was right behind her in second in 1:57.34. Johanna Pettersson of C.W. Post was third in 1:57.65.
Another repeat winner was Simon Fraser’s Mariya Chekanovych who took home the title of 200 yard breaststroke champion, a night after winning the 100-yard version of the event. Chekanovych posted a winning time of 2:13.35, while Drury’s Agnieszka Ostrowska finished second in 2:13.84 and Ashland’s Hanah Mattar placed third in 2:17.61.
The women’s 3-meter diving competition turned into a two-person contest between Kali Lents of Incarnate Word and Wayne State’s Paige Kortman. Lents had just enough to hold off Kortman by a score of 519.10 to 515.25. Clarion’s Kristin Day was third with 491.70 points.
In the 400 yard freestyle relay, Drury put an exclamation point on the team title winning the final event of the evening. The team of Tinsley Andrews, Leah Reed, Wai Ting Yu and Tiffany Bell finished in 3:23.31, while Wayne State took second in 3:24.42 and UC San Diego was third in 3:24.61.
“We had a major breakdown [on Friday] in the relay so we knew we were going to have to dig down deep [on Saturday],” Drury head coach Brian Reynolds said. “We had so many of our swimmers turn in lifetime bests. Our team never gave up and it was just an incredible effort by everyone.”