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Big Red men finish second at NCAC Championship

Denison Men's Swimming & Diving  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Denison Men's Swimming & Diving | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  The Denison men's swimming & diving team won four events on Saturday night at the 2020 North Coast Athletic Conference Championship and placed second in the team standings with 1,765 points.  Kenyon took home the team title with 1,913 points.  The Kenyon win snapped an 11-year winning streak for the Denison men's swimming & diving team at the NCAC Championship.

The highlight of the night for Denison came in the finals of the 200 butterfly where senior Mitch Williams out-touched Kenyon's David Fitch at the wall for the victory.  Williams' winning time of 1:46.43 was a new Trumbull Aquatics Center record, and it also shattered the conference's oldest record, set in 1998 by Kenyon's Pedro Monteiro (1:47.51).  The win marked the first NCAC championship for Williams. 

In addition to Williams' win, Denison placed three others in the top-nine of the 200 fly.  Eric Chimes placed fifth in 1:50.02 and Ethan Bevill followed in sixth at 1:50.29.  In ninth place, Dayen Wilson touched in 1:53.40.

The night also ended on a positive note as the 400 freestyle relay was won by Denison for the fifth consecutive year and the 11th time overall.  The team of Liam Picozzi, Eric Gerlach, Trey Ike, and Kymani Senior posted a time of 2:56.49 which was a new pool record.  The previous pool record was set by Kenyon (2:56.64) in 2015.

Picozzi completed a clean sweep in the backstroke events by winning the 200 back in 1:45.80.  Third place belonged to Patrick Madden in 1:49.52 and John Stauffer placed fourth in 1:49.69. 

Denison loaded up in the 100 freestyle and placed six swimmers in the top-nine of the standings.  First-year Ike was the event champion with a time of 44.50.  Senior earned an all-conference certificate by finishing in third place with a time of 44.67.  Places 6-9 were occupied by Gerlach (45.16), Drake Horton (45.19), PJ Desmet (45.21), and Matt McHugh (45.26).

In the 200 breaststroke, Richie Kurlich was the runner-up, touching in 1:59.80. That was 1.03 better than his preliminary time, but it didn't top his entry time of 1:58.90 set earlier this season.  That time was the fastest in the nation entering the weekend.

Placing fifth in the 200 breast was Piotr Kurleto was a season-best 'B' cut time of 2:02.50.  Aidan Lane touched seventh in 2:06.41.

Noah Houskeeper was Denison's lone entry in the 100 IM and he set a new varsity record time of 50.52 which resulted in a second-place finish.  The previous Denison mark had been held by Bebe Wang (51.56) since 2017.

In the 1,650 freestyle, Dayen Wilson finished in second place with a season-best 'B' cut time of 15:32.40, which trimmed 2.04 seconds off his entry time.  Lukas Gately ended in fourth place with a time of 15:34.96.

Overall, Denison won nine of the 21 events in addition to 23 all-conference performances.  In the post-meet awards ceremony, Trey Ike was named the NCAC Newcomer of the Year. The Big Red returns to action next Saturday (Feb. 22) at the Kenyon Invitational.  Denison will also host the NCAA Central Diving Regional before the NCAA Division III Championships on March 18-21 in Greensboro, N.C.