GRANVILLE, Ohio-- The Denison women's swimming & diving team captured its 10th North Coast Athletic Conference championship on Saturday night as they closed out the four-day meet with 2,044 points to defeat second-place Kenyon by 257 points.
The Big Red put together a dominating overall performance highlighted by six event titles on the final night and 15 victories out of 21 events. On Saturday night, KT Kustritz started things off strong by breaking the national record in the 100 individual medley with a time of 55.39. The old record of 56.97 was set by Jordyn Wentzel of St. Kate's in 2018. Kustritz's winning time was also a new Denison record and a new Trumbull Aquatics Center record. Second-place in the 100 IM went to Angela Le in 58.31.
On Thursday night, Denison's trio of divers went 1-2-3 on the 1-meter board. The same occurred on Saturday night on the 3-meter board, just in a slightly different order. First-year Ally Peterson picked up her first conference championship with an 11-dive score of 456.50 to edge out teammate and 1-meter conference champ, Naomi Clayton. She posted an 11-dive score of 446.00 on the 3-meter board. Mattie Stauss followed in third place with a score of 422.25. For Clayton, it marks the fifth top-3 finish at the NCAC Championships.
The crowd was at a fever-pitch in the championship's finale was the 400 free relay team of Gabriella Nutter, Michaela Morrison, Maddie Hopkins, and KT Kustritz set a new varsity record and NCAC record with a time of 3:20.41. The previous NCAC record of 3:22.22 was set by Kenyon in 2018.
In the 100 freestyle, the Big Red locked up the top four spots in the standings in addition to a seventh-place finish for Mia Chiappe. Nutter led the way with a time of 50.17 to earn the first individual conference championship of her career. Morrison touched second in 50.74 followed by Hopkins (50.85), and Tara Culibrk (51.08). After the 100 freestyle, Denison's lead ballooned from 36 points to 107 points.
The wins kept rolling in as Kate Mesaros locked up her third conference title in the 200 breaststroke and Zoe Whelan won her second 200 butterfly title. Mesaros took 1.25 seconds off her time in prelims to win the 200 breast in 2:17.59. Savy Sargent was fourth in 2:21.42. In her four-year career at DU, Mesaros has three titles in the 200 breast and one, second place finish in 2019.
For Whelan, this marked her first 200 fly title since winning as a sophomore in 2018. She took 0.91 seconds off her season-best 'B' cut time to win in 2:02.21. Natalie Zaravella placed third in 2:03.36 and Caroline Colville was fourth with a time of 2:05.73.
The 1,650 freestyle saw Hannah Rusinko, Colville, and Grace Kacmarek place 4-5-6, respectively. Rusinko chopped 18.27 seconds off her seed time as she covered the mile-long race in 17:16.94. Colville finished at 17:28.28 and Kacmarek was right behind in 17:35.32.
The 200 backstroke rounded out Denison's Saturday results as Eric Hsu finished in fourth place with a 'B' cut time of 2:03.02. Casey Kirby (2:05.17) and Bridget Horton (2:05.24) followed in fifth and sixth, respectively.
In the post-meet awards ceremony, Denison senior Naomi Clayton was named the NCAC Diver of the Year after winning the 1-meter board and finishing second on the 3-meter. Clayton is the 11th NCAC Diver of the Year from Denison.
The Big Red returns to action next Saturday (Feb. 22) at the Kenyon Invitational. Denison will also host the NCAA Central Diving Regional.