GENEVA, Ohio -- It's a familiar scene for Drury: heading down the stretch into the final day of competition at the NCAA Division II national championships with the lead.The DU women came up with a huge victory in the final race of the night Friday at the Spire Institute, the 800 free relay, to move ahead of second-place Wayne State (Mich.) by nine points (358-349).
What a momentum shift it was for the latter, as the DU women trailed Wayne State by 17 points after a big diving effort from the Warriors before the DU foursome of Tinsley Andrews, Kay Gieseke, Leah Reed and Sarah Pullen won the race by nearly four seconds against UC San Diego, then watched Wayne State fall to 10th in the event in the timed relay for what amounted to a 26-point swing to close the night.
"We were calculating leaving the pool tonight probably behind by 20 points coming into tomorrow," Drury coach Brian Reynolds said. "All four of our girls just did an awesome job tonight with lifetime bests [splits]."
As a result, Reynolds says, the DU women need to come out Saturday and establish themselves in A finals for the evening's finale in races where they go in feeling very strong - with the likes of Wai Ting Yu, Andrews, Gieseke and Reed in the 100 free, Katia Rudenko and Chelsea Staab in the 200 back, Pullen, Allie Reynolds and Meghan Gleason in the mile and, of course, the championship-closing 400 free relay.
"We're confident right now that the work we've put in all year will carry us through," Reynolds said. "We're pretty much on a high note right now ... now we just need to come out in the morning, swim lights out, and get it done."
But the women have work to do. And they took a big step toward making it a DU sweep - which would make it five times in the last six years, with only Wayne State's single-point victory against the women in 2012 providing the blemish - by coming fast out of the gates on Friday.
It started with Allie Reynolds' lifetime best effort to win the consolation race in the 500 free, followed by a second place from Pullen in the same event. Never one to truly brag on his daughter, Coach Reynolds was beaming after that opener.
"Sometimes those kind of swims ignite the team, and I think that happened tonight," Brian Reynolds said.
The DU women later added a second place from Rudenko in the 100 back, a third from Ostrowska in the 100 Breast and a sixth from Hilary Ottaviano in the 200 fly before the winning 800 relay effort.