Powered by a strong first-year force, the Kenyon College Ladies won four events on Feb. 17, pulling away from defending champion Denison University and going on to claim the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship.
Kenyon first-year students had a role in three event wins Saturday and nine event wins throughout the four-day championship meet at Denison’s Trumbull Aquatics Center. They helped the Ladies tally 1,953 team points and claim an unprecedented 25th conference crown since the NCAC launched in the 1984-85 academic year. Denison, a team that had won eight of the previous nine conference championships, finished in second place with 1,860 team points.
Right from the start Saturday night, Kenyon first-years made their mark. The session-opening 1,650-yard freestyle saw Alexis Vetrano ’21 take first place and Claire Murray ’21 take third. Vetrano finished in 16:59.15 and Murray finished in 17:06.38. Teammates Marysol Arce ’19 and Maddie Westover ’19 added fifth- and sixth-place finishes in the event, as the Ladies opened up a 115-point lead over Denison.
Two events later, another first-year, Crile Hart ’21, made a massive impact. After shattering a couple of records during Thursday’s session, Hart chalked up another in the 200-yard backstroke. Her winning time of 1:56.86 Saturday night set the pool, the College and the NCAC record. In the same event, Hart and the Ladies were backed up by a second-place finish from Caitlin Foley ’19 and a fifth-place finish from Sydney Matteson ’20.
Kenyon then nearly put the meet away in the 100-yard freestyle. Led by Hannah Orbach-Mandel ’19, the Ladies nailed down seven of the top-10 spots. Orbach-Mandel won the event in a time of 50.82. Abby Wilson ’19 was third and Princess Vilan Ferguson-Nguyen ’20 was fourth. The surge extended the Ladies’ overall lead to 226 points over the Big Red.
Denison whittled away at the Ladies’ lead over the next two events and then bit off a huge chunk in the three-meter diving competition. Kenyon’s Madeline Carlson ’19 claimed third place with a score of 418.50, but Denison divers claimed first, second and fourth to help the Big Red pull within 85 points of Kenyon’s team lead.
With just one event remaining, the Ladies’ lead was safe, but they didn’t treat it that way. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Hart, Ferguson-Nguyen, Wilson and Orbach-Mandel posted a winning time of 3:22.22, breaking the previous pool and conference record of 3:22.65. It also broke the previous Kenyon record of 3:22.47 set in the 2014-15 season.
Other top-three finishes for the Ladies Saturday night came from Makena Markert ’21, who took second in the 100-yard individual medley with a Kenyon record time of 58.86 and third in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:23.49). Murray tacked on a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:19.43) and Amy Socha ’21 claimed third place in the 200-yard butterfly (2:06.30).
At the end of the meet, Hart was voted both the NCAC Newcomer and the Swimmer of the Year, while Head Coach Jess Book ’01 collected the NCAC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year award for the third time in his career.Read the Original Post