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Kustritz shatters national record, highlighting Denison's Friday night

KT Kustritz  |  Photo by Linda Striggo
KT Kustritz | Photo by Linda Striggo

INDIANAPOLIS--  Denison sophomore KT Kustritz turned in the top individual performance of the this year's NCAA championship on Friday night when she became the first female swimmer in Division III history to post a sub-one-minute time in the 100 breaststroke.  Her national title highlighted five individual All-American swims and a ninth-place finish in the 800 free relay for Denison on Friday.  Through 14 of 20 events, Denison has totaled 288 points. They remain in fourth place behind Emory University, Kenyon College, and Williams College.

In preliminaries of the 100 breaststroke, Kustritz fell just shy of her national record time of 1:00.50 set earlier this year at the Miami Invitational.  She did break the NCAA Championship meet record with a prelim time of 1:00.63.  That time was blown out of the water in the finals.  Kustritz got out with a 50 split of 28.13, over one second faster than the second-best start in the field.  She closed at 31.64 to post a record-shattering time of 59.77.  Second-place went to Julia Wilson of Kenyon in 1:01.92 while Denison sophomore Kate Mesaros finished fourth in 1:02.40.  For Mesaros, her time was also a personal best and a 0.44-second drop.

This marked the first national championship for Kustritz and the first for a Denison female since Michelle Howell in 2015.  She is the third Big Red swimmer to win a national title in the 100 breast, joining Natalie Lugg (2014) and Alyssa Heidinger (2001).  Her national title was the 99th in Denison swimming & diving history (both genders).

Denison's lone senior, Halli Garza, led off the night with her best career showing in her feature event, the 200 butterfly.  Garza recorded her second-best time in the event, touching in 2:01.48 to finish third.  In her career, Garza has placed sixth (2015), seventh (2016) and ninth (2017) in the event.  This marked the eighth All-American swim of her career and her second at this year's championship.

The Big Red placed a pair of swimmers in the consolation heat of the 100 backstroke.  Angela Le and Casey Kirby finished 10th and 14th respectively in the event.  Le dropped 0.68 to finish in 55.61.  Kirby followed with a time of 56.69.

The 800 free relay team of Mia Chiappe, Hannah Rusinko, Erica Hsu and Natalie Zaravella finished seventh in 7:28.29 to close out the night's scoring.

Denison will return to the IU Natatorium on Saturday for the final day of swimming at the NCAA Division III Championship.  They will compete in the 100 free, 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, the 1,650 free, the 3-meter dive and the 400 free relay. Follow along with NCAA Swimming & Diving Central for links to recaps, photo galleries, highlight videos, live video and much more.

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