KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — At the conclusion of Friday’s session, the third of the four-day NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championship, Kenyon College saw its first-place lead was whittled down to 35 points.
With one day of competition left in the championship meet, this year’s race is a complete contradiction of last year’s when Kenyon won by a record margin of 424 points. Heading into Saturday’s final day, Kenyon tops the standings with 362.5 points. Denison holds second place with 327.5 points and Emory is in third place with 271.5 points. Rounding out the top five are MIT with 161 points and Redlands with 152 points.
For the Lords, Friday evening began with a fifth-place finish from junior Joey Pysnik as he turned in a time of 1:49.82 in the 200-yard butterfly. At that point, Emory was more than 40 points back of Kenyon and Denison was more than 50 points behind.
The next event, the 100-yard backstroke, changed everything.
The Big Red had five scoring swimmers, including the event-winner Robert Barry. Kenyon countered with senior Michael Mpitsos and sophomores Jimmy Chapman and Jon Rooker, but the Big Red outscored the Lords by 25 points and pulled into second place, just 30 points back. Mpitsos finished fourth (49.37) in the event, capturing his 16th career top-five finish at the NCAA meet. Chapman tied for fifth place (49.48) and Rooker finished 14th (50.34).
As quickly as Denison struck, Kenyon punched back.
In the 100-yard breaststroke, the Lords loaded up with senior Collin Ohning leading the way. Ohning claimed second place, his career-best finish, with a time of 54.86. In the consolation heat, Kenyon collected more points from Lars Matkin, Andrew Butler and Ian Bakk who placed 11th, 14th and 16th, respectively, to help grow Kenyon’s lead back to 43 points.
In Friday’s final event, Denison took one more little chip out of Kenyon’s lead. The Big Red won the 800-yard freestyle relay and saw Kenyon finish two spots back. Denison clocked in at 6:34.50, while Kenyon’s quartet of Pysnik, Ian Stewart-Bates, Ian Richardson and David Somers turned in a third-place time of 6:38.75.
The Lords will take aim at a record 32nd consecutive NCAA championship on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. The final session starts at 6 p.m. ET.