Drury wins 2007 Men's and Women's ChampionshipsMarch 17, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Drury University made it twice the fun Saturday night, bringing home national team titles with dominating performances in both the men's and women's divisions of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships.

The Drury men won their third straight national championship and fourth in five years, overpowering the field with 665.5 points to runner-up North Dakota's 485 points.

Wayne State (360) was third and Missouri-Rolla (299) finished fourth as the Panthers rolled to their fifth overall NCAA-II title, becoming the first since Cal State-Bakersfield (2000-02) to win three in a row.

The Panther women, meanwhile, made some history of their own by ending the six-year reign of Truman State as national champs. Drury, which had finished second to Truman all six of those seasons, wound up with 646.5 points to the Bulldog's 518. UC San Diego was a distant third with 318 points as the Panthers claimed their first title since 2000, when DU finished its own run of four consecutive titles.

With the sweep, Drury becomes the first school in NCAA-II history to twice win both the men's and women's titles at the same national meet, the Panthers' other sweep coming in 1999. Only Cal State-Bakersfield in 1982 and Oakland in 1994 had accomplished the feat before.

"It's just one of those special seasons when you can win two championships," said DU coach Brian Reynolds, who was named National Women's Coach of the Year in post-meet ceremonies.

"It takes a lot of work on the part of all the coaching staff and all of the kids in our program. It's just a real reflection and testament to their great work ethic and everything it takes to pull one of these off."

Key to the women's success this time? The depth they'd been missing the previous six seasons, but most of all, an incredible effort from their relay teams, which won all five events at the championships and set new national records in three of them.

The Panther women closed out Saturday night's schedule with a dominating win in the 400 Freestyle Relay, with the group of seniors Cara Fadel and Mariana de Oliveira, sophomore Jing Hua and freshman Eunate Garro posting a time of 3:24.32 to win by just under four seconds over runner-up Cal-San Diego.

That capped an evening in which Hua added another individual national title, this time in the 100 Free; Fadel finished second and Slattery third in the 200 Back; and Xaio Juan You and Kristie Rose finished 4-5 in the 200 Breast.

The men wrapped up the competition Saturday with a national championship in every event - freshman Kurtis MacGillvary in the 1650 Freestyle, just ahead of sophomore Mitch Snyder; sophomore Yiwen Huang and junior Ismael Ortiz finishing 1-2 in the 100 Freestyle; junior Tomas Kuzvard capturing the 200 Back; and junior Artem Sloudnov winning the 200 Breast.

They, too, finished off the night in a most fitting way - with Kuzvard, MacGillivary, Huang and Ortiz combining to edge North Dakota in the 400 Freestyle Relay finals.

For the week, MacGillivary (500 Free, 1000 Free, 1650 Free), Huang (100 Fly, 200 Fly, 100 Free) and Kuzvard (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 Back) all won three individual national championships each. MacGillivary and Kuzvard also swam on two winning relays each, Huang on one.

The men's "three-peat" was particularly gratifying for Reynolds and the Panthers considering the turmoil they underwent last fall - namely when Jakub Jiracek, who'd tied an NCAA-II record with 10 national championships in his first three seasons at DU - decided late in the first semester not to return to the squad and complete his final season of eligibility.

The Panthers, as a result, struggled against their first-semester foes, though many were NCAA Division I opponents.

"We were not that good in the fall, and we just really put everything on the line for this one meet," Reynolds said. "We literally laid everything else off to the side and focused every bit of energy, thought and effort into this national meet. Obviously, it came through very big for us ... we really have not swam like this for many, many years, not this fast and this good for four consecutive days."

On the women's side, Hua won three national individual championships (50 Free, 100 Free and 100 Back), Fadel won twice (400 IM and 1000 Free) and Slattery once (200 Fly). Fadel, Hua and Slattery were on three winning relays three each.

Reynolds said he felt good in particular for seniors like Fadel and de Oliveira, who were able to finish their careers with a national title - and knocked off Truman to get it.

"Kids come to Drury to win national titles, and when they come through and don't win one in four years, I really feel a responsibility for not getting that accomplished," Reynolds said. "For us to provide that for the senior girls on our squad ... it just means everything."

National records were established by the women's 200 Medley Relay (1:43.73 by Slattery, de Oliveira, Rose and Garro); the women's 200 Freestyle Relay (1:33.14 by Hua, Slattery, de Oliveira and Garro); the women's 400 Medley Relay (3:47.27 by Fadel, You, Garro and de Oliveira); and by Hua in the 100 Back (54.73, nearly a full second better than the old mark).

"Every one of our kids swam so superbly for four solid days ... that's how we ended up running away with the team championships," Reynolds said. "It was just a total team effort.'

-Courtesy Drury