March 18, 2010

By Judd Spicer

Special to

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The second day of the Division III Championships at Minnesota’s University Aquatic Center resulted in a wealth of swimmers proving that past feats were no fluke, and also included a new star making big waves.

In the evening’s first three events, all winners were repeat victors from last year’s championships. The Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio) men’s 200 freestyle relay team returned three of their four swimmers (David Somers, Zach Turk, and Michael Mpitsos) from their NCAA record-setting 2008-09 team, and began the night with a splash, setting a championship record of 1 minute, 19.05 seconds.

Not to be outdone, the Emory University (Atlanta) women defended their 200 freestyle relay title, despite losing key member Morgan Klinzing to an ankle injury after the prelim. The Eagle women were still able to repeat and set a new NCAA record time of 1:31.80.

“This morning, our whole team [from last year] was on our relay, but unfortunately Morgan had an ankle injury,” said sophomore Claire Pavlak who swam as the Eagles’ closing leg in the win. “So we put in freshman Ann Wobler and she did a great job in her first NCAA event.

“I think it’s always an attempt to go faster then we did last year for us,” Pavlak said of the new record. “We’ve been working all season for it, so I think it was icing on the cake.”

The third event produced a third title defense when senior Alex Beyer of Washington University (St. Louis) won with a time of 3:52.94.

“I knew there was going to be tough competition again this year,” Beyer said. “Every year it’s a whole new group. I knew that [Chris] Bateman was a great backstroker, so I basically game-planned for that the second half of my backstroke. I was hoping I could be even with him going into the breaststroke, and who ever had the most left in him for the freestyle would gut it out.”

But the most surprising victor again was Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) freshman Caroline Wilson, who for the second consecutive day, upset defending champion Liz Horvat of Emory. After setting a record in the 500 freestyle on Wednesday, Wilson came back to beat Horvat by two seconds in the 400 individual medley on Thursday.

“I’m very surprised – just as surprised as yesterday,” a beaming Wilson said “I’m really happy I’m swimming well. [The wins] were unexpected. “I was pretty scared because I knew Liz Horvat had a great backstroke, so I just tried to get ahead. I still was looking everywhere. Liz is amazing.”

Additional “Williams Will” was offered in the women’s 100 butterfly. In the prelims, defending champ Logan Todhunter broke her own 2008-09 championship mark with a new best of 52.94. Todhunter, a sophomore, was just as strong in the finals, and defended her title.

Also defending on the women’s side was Kendra Stern of Amherst (Mass.), who followed up teammate Alex Fraser’s win in the men’s 200 freestyle with her third consecutive championship victory in the women’s 200 freestyle. Stern’s time of 1:45.31 broke her own meet record of 1:47.19, set in 2008.

Just to ensure the eve wouldn’t end in the shallow end, the Kenyon men’s 400 medley relay team-- returning three of the four members (Mpitsos, David Lazarus, and Blair Withington) from last year’s record setting unit -- bested their 2008-09 time with a new NCAA record mark of 3:15.48, a mere tenth- of-a-second better than last year’s time.

The win kicked Kenyon’s point total on the men’s side up to 366 points, more than double than that of second place Emory (140.5). After two days on the women’s tally, Emory continues to hold the lead with 297 points. Due in no small part to the women’s repeat win in the 400 medley relay to close out the night, Denison (Granville, Ohio) remains close in second with 251 points. Led by the performances of Wilson and Todhunter, Williams is in third with 206. Defending champ Kenyon remains in fourth, with 159 points.