SAN ANTONIO — Drury received a national-record effort from senior Li Tao in the 100 butterfly and another national title from junior Jun Han Kim as the Panther men and women continued to build on their leads in the team race after two days of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday night at the Palo Alto Natatorium.
Tao won the 100 butterfly in 53.55, taking the title for the third time in her four year career as a Panther. Along the way, she broke the previous mark of 53.76 set two years ago by former teammate Janelle Slattery, as Tao highlighted the effort from the two-time defending national champion Drury women.
The Panthers now have 267 points after two rounds for a 91-point lead ahead of second-place Wayne State (Mich.), which has 176. Ashland is third with 152 poinds, UC San Diego is fourth at 151 and Clarion with 125 points rounds out the top five.
“My first thought is it’s always great to see a senior go out in that kind of fashion … to capture the win and the national record was just a delight, because we knew that time looked fast,” Drury coach Brian Reynolds said of Tao, or “Tula” to her teammates.
Soon after Tao’s triumph, Kim was at it again, winning the 100 butterfly in 46.94 for his second individual championship of the meet to pick up big points for DU as he combined with a third-place finish by Carlos Viveros. Kim, the reigning NCAA Swimmer of the Year, won the 200 IM on Wednesday.
The Panther men, six-time defending national champs, now have 316 points, strengthening their lead ahead of second-place Grand Canyon (172.5 points). UC San Diego is currently third at 162 points, followed by Wayne State (Mich.) with 160 and Bridgeport (128) rounds out the top five.
Other top efforts for the DU men on Thursday included a third place in the 200 free relay, a bronze medal by Ryan Arabejo in the 400 IM and a third-place efffort from Vladimir Sedorkin in the 200 freestyle. The Panthers closed out the night with second place in the 400 medley relay, finishing .07 winner Florida Southern. Drury posted a team-record time of 3:14.98 with Matthew Maurer, Jesse Lawrence, Kim and Viveros.
The DU women received strong finishes with a second-place effort in the 200 free relay and a fifth-place finish by Katia Alyabeya in the 400 IM. Drury also received third-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively, from Tiffany Van Dongen, Tinsley Andrews and Kelsey Ward in the 200 freestyle. Like the DU men, the women finished second in the evening-closing 400 medley relay.
“I thought we had just a lot of great efforts on the guys’ side,” Reynolds said. “The men’s team record in the 400 medley relay was great, but it was a disappointment to come up a little short like that (finishing second), and same with the women in that race.
“It just stings a little bit to come up short because we’re usually the ones who win those close races. The kids have to keep their heads up because they’re swimming great.”