SHENANDOAH, Texas -- Behind six individual all-America performances and a second-place finish in the 800 free relay on Friday, five-time defending champion Emory has totaled 456.50 total team points and holds a 136.50 lead over second-place Denison heading into Saturday’s fourth and final day of competition of the 2015 NCAA Division III Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships being contested at the Conroe ISD.Rounding out the women’s teams currently in the top five, Denison has totaled 320 points, followed by Williams with 306 points, Kenyon with 269 points and Johns Hopkins with 182 points.
Senior McKenna Newsum-Schoenberg got Emory off to a great start, picking up the Eagles’ first individual national title of the championships with a first-place showing in the 200 butterfly. After finishing in second place in the event a year ago, Newsum-Schoenberg’s out-touched her teammate, senior Nina Zook, to take top honors with a winning time of 2:00.43. Zook finished second with a time of 2:00.70 and junior Kirsten Nitz of Wheaton (Ill.) was third in 2:01.38.
In other Friday events, junior Clare Slagel of Luther, after finishing in third place in the event in 2014, picked up her second career national title with a winning time of 54.57 in the 100 backstroke. She adds this title to her 2014 individual championship in the 200 backstroke and remains the only swimmer in school history to win a national title. Senior Maddie Lovrensky of La Verne finished in second place in a time of 54.73 and sophomore Emma Paulson of St. Thomas (Minn.) placed third with a finishing time of 54.86.
Senior Brittany Geyer of Stevens Institute set a school record with her 1:02.24 top-place finish in the 100 breaststroke. It was Geyer’s second national title after taking the 200 breaststroke as a freshman in 2012. Senior Amy Spaay of Wisconsin-Whitewater placed second in a time of 1:02.85 and junior Elizabeth Aronoff of Emory was third in 1:02.57.
The Williams 800 freestyle relay team of sophomore Lauren Jones, junior Brenna Nguyen, sophomore Megan Pierce and senior Sarah Thompson narrowly missed eclipsing a record it set in 2012 and used a powerful anchor leg from Thompson to overtake Emory in the final 50 yards to win in a time of 7:18.25. The victory earned the program its second title in the event in the past four years and fourth overall. Emory was second with a time of 7:19.01 and Denison placed third in a time of 7:22.41.
After placing third as a freshman and second as a sophomore, junior Maria Zarka of Kenyon broke through to earn her first 1-meter diving title with a score of 477.80 in Friday evening’s finals session. The victory marks the third overall national title for Zarka who won the 3-meter board in 2013 and 2014. First-year diver Maura Sticco-Ivins of Wellesley, who took the 3-meter title on Wednesday, finished second on the 1-meter board with a score of 470.80 while junior Sarah Sheridan of Hope was third with a score of 466.15.
Action at the championships resumes on Saturday, with preliminaries at 11 a.m. ET and finals at 7 p.m.