Men speed ahead to sixth at Nat’ls; Women take ninth of 52

Sophomore Laura Pierce was awarded All-America honors after finishing sixth overall in the 100-yard butterfly. (Photo courtesty of the Sports Information Desk)

The Lions dove into the NCAA Division III Championships in Minneapolis with outstanding performances, placing the men’s swimming team at sixth in the nation with 193 points and the women’s at ninth overall with a total of 108 points.

Sophomore Laura Pierce received All-America honors on the women’s team for her sixth place finish in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 56.11 seconds. Pierce also received honorable mention for her time of 51.85 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, placing 13th overall. Freshman Kayleigh Shangle also gained All-America honors with her fifth place finish of 1:04.56 in the 100-yard breaststroke. Shangle was the only freshman to swim in the race.

For the men, it was sophomore Mike Vernoia who led the Lions to place in the top of many events after finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle on Wednesday with a time of 4:25.28, breaking his own school record and earning All-America honors. Vernoia also finished second in the 200-yard free, posting a time of 1:38.80.

“Breaking this school record on the first night of finals really rallied the team to swim great,” freshman Adam Schneider said. Schneider placed 11th in the 50-yard free with a time of 20.52 in order to gain honorable mention. However, it was in the 200-yard medley relay that Schneider, along with seniors Myles O’Connor and James VanBiervliet, and junior Shawn Kircher, collected All-American honors. The team posted a time of 1:31.45 in the relay to take fifth overall.

O’Connor also collected All-American honors for his second place finish of 55.15 seconds in the 100-yard breaststroke. He also placed seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:03.10.

In the women’s 200-yard medley relay, sophomore Traci Hofer and senior Ashley Robb teamed up with Shangle and Pierce in order to take sixth overall in a time of 1:45.76, a new school record, and fourth place in the 200-yard freestyle relay posting a time of 1:34.97. Pierce and Shangle also swam in the 400-yard medley relay with freshman Kristyn Wikoff and junior Margaret Molloy, finishing in a time of 3:54.50 to take 13th place. In the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, sophomore Melissa Hessler, Pierce, Shangle, and Molloy grabbed 13th place with a time of 3:30.97.

The men’s team placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:22.45. The relay team, sophomore Ryan Clark, junior Tom Medvecky, Schneider and Kircher, received All-American citations. Medvecky, Kircher, Clark and Vernoia then took fifth place with a time of 6:39.69 in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

Medvecky also earned All-American honors in an individual event when he posted a time of 1:50.60 in the 200-yard fly and placed seventh. Medvecky broke his own school record with this time. He also took 11th place in the 100-yard fly with a time of 49.96 seconds in order to claim All-American honorable mention, as well.

Overall, Emory University took the top spot in the women’s meet and Kenyon College took first in the men’s.

The Lions proved to be a threat in the waters, nevertheless, and the men’s team ended up with the best finish in team history. However, with a few improvements the teams plan on finishing on a higher level next year.

“For improvements, we definitely need to work on our walls, but more importantly on our relay starts,” said Vernoia. “But next season we’re going to be back with an even better squad, cracking the top four in the nation.”