West Chester’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams performed well at the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships this week, placing in several events and even setting a few records over the four-day event in Birmingham, Ala.
On the men’s side, freshman Bradley Strathmeyer was West Chester’s top swimmer over the course of the event, which took place at the CrossPlex Complex in Birmingham. On Wednesday evening, Strathmeyer opened nationals by placing seventh in the finals of the 1000-yard freestyle. He finished with a time of nine minutes, 14.57 seconds, earning 12 points for West Chester. Jared Haley also competed for the Rams, finishing in 18th place but earning no points.
The third day of nationals saw even more success for Strathmeyer. He finished third in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of four minutes, 24.74 seconds. That was good enough to set an all-time PSAC record, easily beating former WCU swimmer Andras Schonek’s old time. Haley did well also with a time of 4:28.55, good for WCU’s third-best time in school history behind Strathmeyer and Schonek.
Strathmeyer completed nationals on Saturday with yet another impressive race. He placed third in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 15 minutes, 28.66 seconds, earning 16 points for West Chester. Also finishing nationals strong was Haley, who finished second in the consolation final and 10th overall with a time of 15:40.74. Bogdan Grebenyuk was the only other Top 16 finisher for West Chester, coming in 12th in the 200 breaststroke.
West Chester ended nationals in 18th overall with 65 points, the vast majority of which came from Strathmeyer’s performances in the 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard freestyles. Drury University took the national title, its ninth in a row and 10th in the last 11 years.
While Strathmeyer was the star for the Rams individually at nationals, the women performed even better as a team than the men over the course of the four-day event. Sophomore Lauren Carastro opened the event strong for the Lady Rams, placing second in the finals of the 1000-yard freestyle. She was followed by Kacie McNichol in third and Kendall Somer in 15th. These times in the 1000 free earned WCU 35 points.
Megan Winslow took 11th in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:04.79, while the 200 medley relay took 12th.The team finished the day with 51 points, and was actually in first place in the team standings at that point.
The team continued strong on the second day, with the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay placing 15th and 11th, respectively. The 200 free relay team comprised of Winslow, Mia Barone, Alexis Walley, and Codyanne Murtaugh finished in 1:36.68. Meanwhile, the 400 medley team of Winslow, Barone, Walley, and Ameila Buckley’s time was 3:49.24.
Friday night saw even more success for the women. Carastro placed seventh in the 500 free in four minutes, 56.24 seconds. Murtaugh’s time of 5:28.60 was good enough for eighth. Murtaugh actually had a stomach virus as she swam the race, according to WCU’s athletic website. Meanwhile, Winslow placed seventh in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.69 seconds. Somer took 10th in the 100 backstroke in 1:04.31, while Walley was 16th in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:07.05.
On the final day of nationals, McNichol took second in the long-distance 1650-yard freestyle. It was her second consecutive year placing second in the event. Her time was 16:43.62. Somer took eighth with a time of 17:20.00, while Carastro took fourth in the consolation final and 12th overall with a time of 17:04.35. Somer later took fifth in the 200 breaststroke in 2:17.75, while Winslow took eighth in the 200 backstroke in 2:02.14. As a team, the Lady Rams finished seventh overall with 209 points over the four days. Drury completed the sweep by winning the women’s national title as well, their fifth in seven years.
Joey Samuel is a fourth-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.