Section: Sports

Owls sweep NCAC Championships for first time since 2008

Owls sweep NCAC Championships for first time since 2008

The women’s team won its 28th NCAC title. | SEJIN KIM/SID/NCAA

Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won the NCAC Championship over the weekend, with both teams overcoming deficits to the host, Denison University, on the final day of the meet. For the first time since 2008, both teams were able to secure the conference title in the same season.

Women: The Kenyon women’s swimming and diving teams won the NCAC Championship for the 28th time in program history. The victory was the Owls’ first since 2022, and they now have the most NCAC championships out of any team in the conference.

The meet began on Wednesday, when only two events were held. Kenyon was able to get off to a hot start, tying with Denison by the end of the day. The Owls started with a second-place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay as the group of Molly Haag ’26, Jennah Fadely ’25, Lisa Torrecillas-Jouault ’26 and Bengisu Caymaz ’27 swam to a time of 7:19.69, collecting 62 points. The highlight of the afternoon, however, was in the 200-yard medley relay where Caleigh Wukitch ’24, Fadely, Celia Ford ’25 and Sydney Geboy ’25 came in first place with a time of 1:40.94.

Kenyon was able to build on its success on day two, claiming the outright lead by the halfway point of the meet. Caymaz started the day off strong, winning the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:49.26. Haag was also a major contributor in the event, getting third to pick up a crucial 30 points. Immediately after, Fadely matched Caymaz’s success by securing a first-place victory in the 200-yard individual medley. After winning the 200-yard medley relay the day before, the team of Wukitch, Fadely, Ford and Geboy came in second in the 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:43.14.

Kenyon struggled on day three, falling 18 points behind Denison in the standings. Despite dropping points, the Owls put up key first-place finishes to keep them within striking distance. The first of these came from Sydney McCallie ’24 in the 400-yard individual medley, who swam the race in 4:22.53, beating the rest of the competition by a massive three seconds. Fadely then won the 100-yard breaststroke for her second individual victory of the meet. A third-place finish by Gabrielle Wei ’25 in the event was crucial for the Owls as well. Kenyon dominated in the 100-yard backstroke, with Torrecillas-Jouault winning the event, followed by Wukitch who came in second. While they did not end up with a win, Kenyon performed very well in the 200-yard freestyle, with Caymaz and Haag getting second and third, respectively. The Owls were able to end the day on a good note, as Kate Bogan ’27, Gwen Eisenbeis ’26, Torrecillas-Jouault and Geboy came in second place in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

With their backs against the wall, the Owls performed like seasoned veterans on day four to take home the NCAC Championship. Caymaz began the day right, winning the 1,650-yard freestyle, while Haag picked up a third-place finish in the event. Fadely then followed the impressive result up with a victory in the 100-yard individual medley. The 200-yard backstroke proved to be no different for the Owls, as Wukitch won the event by over a whole second. Kenyon did not stop there, as Torrecillas-Jouault and Geboy got first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard freestyle, with Torrecillas-Jouault swimming to a time of 51.12 and Geboy coming in at 51.54. Right after, Wei dismantled the competition in the 200-yard breaststroke, winning by almost four seconds. McCallie finished third in the event as well. Despite a second-place finish from Sophie Schmitz ’24 in the 200-yard butterfly, the first event of the day that Kenyon did not win, the Owls were intent on finishing strong. The day ended on a high note, as Haag, Eisenbeis, Torrecillas-Jouault and Geboy came first in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:22.96 to secure the conference championship. At the conclusion of the meet, Caymaz won NCAC Newcomer of the Year, and Fadely won her second-consecutive NCAC Swimmer of the Year honors.

Men: After trailing Denison for the first three days of competition, the Owls tallied 1,889 total points to edge out the Big Red and claim their second straight conference title in dramatic fashion.

Kenyon opened the competition on Wednesday with victories in all three events that the team entered. Despite all three top finishes, the Owls ended the day in second place with 204 points, trailing Wabash College’s 230 points. The first win of the day came in the 800-yard freestyle relay when the team of Djordje Dragojlovic ’26, Yurii Kosian ’24, Noah Hargrove ’24 and Ethan Manske ’26 stopped the clock at 6:34.09. The other first-place finish in the pool came from Aleksa Dobric ’25, Kosian, Marko Krtinic ’24 and Daniel Brooks ’24, who were victorious in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:28.45. On the diving board, Israel Zavaleta ’24 was in full command, taking first place on the 3-meter board by a margin of over 100 points.

The Owls started Thursday morning off with two second-place finishes. Teo Jaworski ’26 was the first for Kenyon, swimming a 4:30.94 in the 500-yard freestyle, a collegiate-best time for the sophomore, helping him secure silver. The next event also yielded a runner-up finish for the Owls, when Manske swam the 200-yard individual medley in 1:49.29, another collegiate-best time. Hargrove was right on his heels, claiming a third-place finish of 1:49.46. Kenyon’s most successful race came at the end of the day, when the Owls secured the top-two spots in the 50-yard freestyle. Dobric took the crown for Kenyon with a time of 20.24 seconds. Not far behind him was Dragojlovic with a second-place finish of 20.33. The final race of the evening also ended victoriously for the Owls, where the group of Dobric, Dragojlovic, Kosian and Krtinic took home gold in the 400-yard medley relay with a team season-best time of 3:13.54. Kenyon ended day two still in second place, 45 points behind Denison.

On Friday, the Owls closed in on the Big Red lead, but still remained slightly out of the top spot. Zavaelta had yet another dominant day on the diving boards, taking first place on the one-meter board with a conference record-setting score of 629.20. With his win on the one-meter, he completed his third consecutive sweep of the NCAC conference titles. Zavaleta picked up his third NCAC Diver of the Year award at the end of the weekend, becoming only the second Owl ever to win the award three times. In an email to the Collegian, Zavaleta described what the award means to him: “Winning Diver of the Year for the third time, especially in my final season, is incredibly gratifying. It’s a sum of years of hard work and dedication.”

Krtinic was victorious in the first swimming event of the day, recording a time of 48.34 in the 100-yard butterfly, keeping the conference crown in the event after his win last year. Immediately after, Manske won the 400-yard individual medley with a personal-best time of 3:53.81, and Hargrove backed him up with a 3:55.44 second-place finish. 

Midway through Friday, Dension had a decisive 100-point lead over the Owls, which Kenyon chipped away at throughout the afternoon. Kenyon’s final two races in the pool brought them some much-needed momentum to end the day. The Owls swept the top-three places in the 100-yard backstroke, with Dragojlovic taking first place in 47.63 seconds, while Kosian (48.26) and Brooks (48.59) secured second and third place, respectively. Soon after, the Owls’ team of Brooks, Dragojlovic, Dobric and Krtinic won the 200-yard freestyle relay, stopping the clock in 1:19.98. 

Kenyon began the final day of competition on Saturday only 10 points out of the lead. Despite missing out on a first-place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle, Roman Savage ’27 took second place for the Owls with a season-best time of 15:39.62. Kenyon also missed out on a first-place finish in the 100-yard individual medley, but the trio of Krtinic (50.01), Mirjavohir Marvarov ’24 (50.35) and Vaughn Hajra ’24 (53.22) secured three of the top-five spots, giving the Owls their first lead of the entire competition.

All the momentum was on the Owls’ side at this point, as Kosian and Manske took first and second place in the 200-yard backstroke. Kosian clocked in at 1:44.87, claiming the NCAC Championship record from Spencer Pruett ’23, while Manske secured a season-best time of 1:47.43. Dragojlovic made quick work of the 100-yard freestyle, recording an NCAC Championship record time of 43.51 and securing his second individual win of the championship. The final triumph of the competition for the Owls came from Hargrove, who claimed his first NCAC individual event victory in his collegiate career. Missing his personal best by only .03 seconds, Hargrove won the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:48.41. With the win in the bag, the quartet of Dragojlovic, Brooks, Kosian and Dobric ended the championship meet in dramatic style with a winning margin of almost five seconds in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Kenyon won the NCAC Championship by a final margin of 44 points over the Big Red, claiming the program’s 26th NCAC crown. Zavaleta described the overwhelming emotions that the team experienced at the end of the competition: “Winning was breathtaking for the team. The feeling of overcoming adversity and winning definitely brought a sense of accomplishment after all the hard work.”

President Julie Kornfeld was also in attendance for the NCAC Championships and described the exciting atmosphere in an email to the Collegian. “The event was wonderful certainly because of the performance of our athletes but also because of the amazing camaraderie and support that these athletes provide to one another both in and out of the pool,” she said. “Watching them cheer each other on for the victories and supporting one another through challenging events was just terrific to see.”

While Kenyon will certainly celebrate its incredible accomplishment, there will be little time for the Owls to rest on their laurels as they will look toward the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., in March. Before that, however, the Kenyon swimming and diving teams will compete in the First Chance Invitational in its home pool on Friday.

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