BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Drury men and women’s teams were on the mark on Wednesday as the Panthers opened their quest for the NCAA Championship by grabbing both first-day leads at the Crossplex Complex.
The Panthers had no victories on Wednesday, but used its multiple placings in several events to move to the top of the team standings.
The eight-time defending national champion DU men snagged 34 points in the 50 free — including 14 from senior Vladimir Sidorkin for his fifth-place finish — to take the first-day lead with 109 points. Florida Southern is in second at 89, followed by Incarnate Word (85), Wayne State (73) and Grand Canyon (73) to finish the top five. UC-San Diego, last year’s runner-up, is sixth with 66 points.
On the women’s side, Drury amassed 104 points for a 30-point lead against second-place Wingate (74). Incarnate Word sits in third with 60 points, followed by Simon Fraser (55) and defending national champion Wayne State — which beat DU by a single point last year – also with 55 points.
The most inspirational finish for Drury was a fifth in the 50 free from sophomore Wai Ting Yu, who suffered a torn knee ligament less than a month ago. “Janet,” as she’s known to her teammates, put off surgery to give nationals a shot, and finished in 23.38 to pull off a 5th-6th finish in the event with senior Tiffany Bell (23.49) for a combined 27 points.
For Yu, it wasn’t far off the 23.05 she’d posted pre-nationals to field the third-fastest qualifying time entering the meet.
“We are very proud of Janet and how hard she’s worked this year,” Drury coach Brian Reynolds said. “The fact that she can go out and compete the way she has [Wednesday] shows what a strong team player she is.”
Yu closed the evening by anchoring Drury’s sixth-place effort in the 200 medley relay, joining teammates Molly Brown, Agnieszka Ostrowska and Jacquelyn Haines.
The DU women also received a seventh from freshman Sarah Pullen and a 14th from Allie Reynolds in the 1,000 and a 6-7-8 finish from Ostrowska, Gretchen Stein and Katia Alyabyeva (for 36 points) in the 200 IM.
The DU men saw Ryan Arabejo finish third and Sean Feher 11th in the 1,000; Daniel Swietlicki, Artur Dilman and Kacper Pelczynski finish 10th, 13th and 16th in the 200 IM; and Nick McCarthy (9th), Samuel Olson (10th) and Oleksandr Padalkin (13th) support Sidorkin’s fifth in the 50 free. Dwight Baker finished ninth in the 3-meter diving. Drury finished off the opening evening with a fourth-place finish in the 200 medley relay.