MIAC swimmers and divers perform great on national stage

MIAC swimmers and divers perform great on national stage

SHENANDOAH, Texas – The 2017 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships were held March 15-18 in Shenandoah, Texas, and the trip south warranted some outstanding performances and honors for Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) student-athletes, with a total of seven All-American performances (top eight) and another 10 All-American Honorable Mention efforts (places 9-16).


The MIAC's two 2017 Swimmers-of-the-Year both starred on the national stage. The 2016 National Swimmer-of-the-Year, St. Thomas' Emma Paulson, wasn't quite able to defend any of her three national titles, but she did register top-three finishes and All-American honors in all three of her individual events. She was second in the 200-yard backstroke (1:58.61) and third in both the 100-back (54.54) and the 50-yard freestyle (22.69).

Gustavus' Tanner Sonnek also continued his excellence from the MIAC Championships at the national championships. Sonnek earned a pair of All-American honors, finishing fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke (1:58.98) and adding a seventh-place finish in the 100-breast (54.81). Sonnek also swam in the 200-yard individual medley prelims.

Two MIAC women each earned one All-American honor and one Honorable Mention nod. St. Thomas' Katelynn Strauss was fifth in the 200-yard butterfly (2:01.83) and added a 16th-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly (56.39). Carleton's Caroline Mather was an All-American in the 100-yard freestyle with a seventh-place finish (50.96) and added a 12th-place showing in the 50-free (23.37), while also swimming in the 200-free prelims.

St. Catherine Jenna Nagy – a three-time MIAC Diver-of-the-Year honoree –completed her career with a pair of All-American Honorable Mention performances at nationals. She finished 14th on the 3-meter board with a score of 408.30 and added a 16th-place finish on the 1-meter board with a score of 341.55.

The MIAC got another men's Honorable Mention performance from St. Thomas' Bailey Biwer in the 500-yard freestyle, as he finished 16th with a time of 4:32.17. Biwer also swam in the 100- and 200-free prelims. Carleton's Maria Wetzel came in seeded 17th in the women's 400-yard individual medley, but outperformed her seed with an 11th-place finish in 4:27.16 to earn Honorable Mention All-American honors. She just missed another, finishing 18th in the 200-back prelims and she also swam in the 200-IM prelims.

St. Thomas had a trio of 14th-place finishes in relay events. Haley Cassens, Tiana Molitor, Emma Paulson and Melissa Rose finished 14th in the 200-medley relay (1:44.56). Alexandra Howard, Molitor, Paulson and Strauss were 14th in the 400-medley relay (3:50.32); and Howard, Molitor, Paulson and Kathryn Smarjesse took 14th in the 400-freestyle relay (3:27.20). The Tommies were unfortunately disqualified in the 200-yard freestyle relay finals after swimming the fifth-best time in the prelims.

Gustavus also had a relay team score points in the finals, as the Gusties' 200-yard freestyle relay team finished 16th with a time of 1:35.25 thanks to the performances of Kennedy Holwerda, Nicole Lohman, Kathleen Reilly and Margaret Webster. Gustavus just missed another relay final, as it finished 17th in the 400-free relay prelims (3:29.32) and also fielded a team in the 200-medley relay prelims.

Several other MIAC individuals participated in the national championships, but did not advance out of the preliminary heats. St. Olaf's John Loepfe competed in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and 200-IM and Gustavus' Matthew Allison swam in the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard freestyle races. Reilly represented the Gusties in the women's 50- and 100-free and 100-fly prelims, and Webster also competed in the 50-free prelims. St. Olaf's Claire Walters swam in the 50- and 100-free and 100-fly prelim races, and St. Thomas' Howard (200-free) and Rose (100-breast) also competed in individual prelim events.

In the final team standings, the St. Thomas women had the MIAC's top finish with 82 points, which were good for 14th place nationally. Carleton's women finished 31st with 23 points, St. Catherine was 46th with four points and Gustavus was 51st with two points. In the men's standings, Gustavus finished 25th with 26 points and St. Thomas tied for 50th with one point.

Emory won both the men's and women's Division III national championships. The championships were held at the Conroe ISD Natatorium in Shenandoah, Texas. The Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and the City of Shenandoah served as hosts. A total of 527 participants (479 swimmers and 48 divers) competed in the championships.

| NCAA Championship Results |