Section: Sports

Ladies win NCAC Championship, while Lords suffer heartbreaker in final event

Ladies win NCAC Championship, while Lords suffer heartbreaker in final event

Ladies won their 27th NCAC title on Saturday. | COURTESY OF MARTY FULLER

From Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, Kenyon’s swimming and diving teams competed in the NCAC Championships, with the Lords and Ladies both looking to defend their crowns. The Ladies earned their 27th NCAC title — a record across all NCAC programs — while the Lords fell just short, losing to Denison University in heartbreaking fashion.

The Ladies began their title defense with a win in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Ania Axas ’23, Sarah Hoffman ’24, Sydney Geboy ’25 and Crile Hart ’22 took first with a time of 7:24.59, earning the team 70 points after the first day of competition, with DePauw University sitting in second with 62 points.

The Ladies relied on the experience of the team’s veteran swimmers to find success during day two. Hart, Geboy, Emmie Mirus ’22 and Alexandra White ’23 started the day off with a 1:31.04 first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Denison’s sweep of the top three in the 500-yard freestyle helped the Big Red close the gap with the Ladies. Hart earned the Ladies’ first individual event title of the championship by winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:59.86, her second consecutive and third overall title in the event. Jennah Fadely ’25 helped the Ladies cushion their lead, taking second with a season-best time of 2:03.28. Mirus earned her second title in the 50-yard freestyle, with another season-best time of 23.10 seconds. 

Despite these victories for the Ladies, Denison held onto first place, thanks to their depth. With only one race left in the day, the Ladies looked to head into the third day of competition in possession of first place. Hart and Mirus, along with teammates Fadely and Olivia Smith ’23, did not disappoint, winning the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:40.65 and earning the Ladies first place (614 points) in exciting fashion.

On the penultimate day of competition, the Ladies stretched their lead further. Smith, Fadely, Celia Ford ’25 and Mirus opened the day with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay (1:41.82). After a third-place finish from Sophie Schmitz ’24 in the 400-yard individual medley (4:29.18), Hart logged an NCAC- and pool-record time in the 100-yard butterfly (53:04). 

Hart credits strong routines as a key contributor to her success. “I know what makes me personally feel mentally and physically prepared for a race or any performance situation with high stress,” she said. “I make sure to perform those same exact strategies or ‘rituals’ every single time to make me feel confident and calm.” Though Denison was able to make up ground in the 200-yard freestyle, the Ladies widened the gap by claiming first and second place in the 100-yard breaststroke, with Fadely (1:01.37) earning her first NCAC title and Gabrielle Wei ’25 (1:02.83) coming in just behind her. Smith completed her title defense in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.03 seconds. The Ladies finished the day with 1256 points, 88 points ahead of Denison.

Though Denison kicked off the final day of competition with a sweep of the top two spots in the 1650-yard freestyle, the Ladies steadily moved victory out of Denison’s reach. Fadely won the 100-yard individual medley in 57.19 seconds before the Ladies swept the top four spots in the 100-yard backstroke. Hart won the event for the third time in her career with a time of 1:57.95, followed by teammates Smith (2:00.41), Jordan Herrera ’25 (2:04.55) and Caleigh Wukitch ’24 (2:05.11). Mirus took the 100-yard freestyle in 50.29 seconds, Wei won the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:15.09 and Axas earned the title in the 200-yard butterfly with a 2:02.51 finish. A fourth-place finish from Katarina Ilic in the three-meter dive marked the end of the individual events, and the Ladies closed out their successful title defense with a victory in the 400-yard freestyle relay with the team of Hart, White, Mirus and Geboy taking the title in 3:21.65. 

After a successful final day, the Ladies’ championship-winning score was 1958 points. Hart was awarded the NCAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year, and Fadely was named the NCAC Women’s Newcomer of the Year.

The Lords started the championship meet on a high note. Israel Zavaleta ’23 took the conference title in the three-meter dive with a score of 594.85. His teammate, Drew Albrecht ’23, took third place with a score of 471.45. Zavaleta, who has enjoyed success throughout the entire season, said that earning points for his team serves as his motivation. “[Contributing] for my team reminds me of the consistency and discipline that we all put in each practice in order to reach our goals,” he said. The Lords grew their lead with a win in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Clocking in just over a second ahead of second-place Denison, Noah Hargrove ’24, Noah Althoff ’24, Yurii Kosian ’24 and Bryan Fitzgerald ’23 earned first place with their 6:36.01 finish. At the end of the first day of competition, the Lords stood in first place with 163 points, 13 points ahead of second-place Denison.

The second day of competition was not as kind to the Lords, who started the day with a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The team of Marko Krtinic ’24, David Fitch ’22, Daniel Brooks ’24 and Joe Black ’22 finished just behind Denison with a time of 1:20.20. Fitzgerald was able to earn the Lords their first conference title of the day with his time of 4:26.46 in the 500-yard freestyle. Althoff’s win in the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.55) was the Lords’ final victory of the day, as Krtinic earned a third-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (20.38), and the 400-yard medley relay team of Kosian, Luis Weekes ’23, Fitch and Krtinic took second (3:14.27). The Lords finished the day in second with 568 points, while Denison held first place with 732 points.

The Lords were able to more than make up ground on the third day of competition. Though the team of Kosian, Weekes, Marcus Hong ’22 and Krtinic placed second in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:28.01, the Lords steadily racked up points as individual event wins rolled in. Fitzgerald broke his own NCAC record by 0.30 seconds in the 400-yard individual medley with a 3:51.20 finish. Fitch earned his second career title in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 47.51 seconds. The Lords then took the top three spots in the 200-yard freestyle, with Kosian (1:39.44), Althoff (1:39.70) and Spencer Pruett ’23 (1:39.78) all earning personal bests in the event. 

Weekes extended the Lords’ win streak with a victory in the 100-yard breaststroke. In his effort to defend his title in the event, he finished with an NCAC record of 54.35 seconds. While the Lords did not win the 100-yard backstroke, six of the top eight swimmers were Lords, with Pruett’s second-place finish (48.69) leading the way past Denison. Zavaleta’s first-place finish in the three-meter dive (483.65) furthered the Lords’ lead, and they finished the day in first with 1368.5 points, 34 points ahead of Denison.

In the final day of competition, the Lords were tested early as Denison racked up a few wins of their own. After second-place finishes from Fitzgerald in the 1650-yard freestyle (15:28.56) and Hong in the 100-yard individual medley (50.42), the Lords earned their first win of the day when Pruett took the 200-yard backstroke with an NCAC-record time of 1:45.41. Denison continued to gain ground, taking first in the 200-yard backstroke and butterfly. With only the 400-yard freestyle relay remaining, the Lords sat three points ahead of their rival. A first-place finish would earn the winning team 70 points and the NCAC Championship, while second place would earn 62 points, making the relay a winner-take-all event. Ultimately, the team of Krtinic, Fitch, Brooks and Black fell short of first by just 1.24 seconds (2:56.73), and Denison claimed the NCAC crown. The Lords finished the meet with 1973.5 points. Zavaletas was named NCAC Men’s Diver of the Year, while Fitzgerald took home the title of NCAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year.

The Lords and Ladies will next be in competition on Feb. 19, when they will host the Kenyon Fast Chance meet. Looking ahead to Feb. 25 and 26, Kenyon will be looking to take down Denison in their pursuit of a national title in Indianapolis at the NCAA Championships. 


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