GENEVA, Ohio -- Sparked by record-setting relay efforts, defending national champion Drury moved atop the standings at the halfway point Thursday of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships at the Spire Institute.The DU women - sparked by a co-championship by Tinsley Andrews in the 200 free and a record-setting win in the 400 medley relay to close out the evening - moved past Wayne State (Mich.) and into first place with 246 points to 216 by the second-place Warriors. Queens (N.C.) is third with 198 points.
The Drury women - seeking their fifth NCAA crown in the past six years - were edged out for the title in the 200 free relay, finishing second to Wayne State with Yakaterina Rudenko, Andrews, Kay Gieseke and Wai Ting Yu despite setting a new DU team record in the event.
But then Agnieszka Ostrowska came on with a second place in the 400 IM after sophomore Gretchen Stein had gritted out a victory (and a ninth-place finish) in the consolation race.
Andrews then gave the Panthers a lift with her tie with Katharina Fischer of West Chester in the 200 free, with both finishing in 1:48.48, with Sarah Pullen adding 11 more points with her eighth-place finish.
"It was a spectacular race for Tinsley," Reynolds said. "She took the lead right off the start and just took it to them all the way through. I'm thrilled for her, because being a senior, that's always special."
Then came the big finish, the 3:39.29 effort from Rudenko, Ostrowska, Yu and Pullen to capture the 400 medley relay, breaking the old mark of 3:40.45 set by Wayne State in 2011. Reynolds says it was thrilled with lifetime-best splits from all the girls, but he was particularly pleased with the closing effort of Pullen, normally a distance ace for the Panthers.
"That was an amazing swim by all those girls," Reynolds said. "Sarah Pullen is not someone who typically swims that length, but we were trying to save Tinsley [Andrews] for one of the other relays, and Sarah was outstanding in playing the role of a sprinter. We didn't think Cal Baptist would go that quick, but they pushed us for everything we were worth, and that's why we pulled off that national record."
Reynolds' evaluation of the DU situation at the halfway point in a meet where he says 16 of the 20 races have set national records?
"We know tomorrow is a Wayne State diving day where they're capable of scoring a lot of points on the board, so we've got to try to neutralize that as much as we can," Reynolds said of the women's chase. "Our men swam really well all the way around again, and I know we've got a lot of big swims ahead of us coming up.
"I really think this meet is probably going to come down to every swim the last two days. I think our girls understand that, and hopefully they'll all step forward and pull off some magnificent efforts to pull it out."