Swimmers earn NCC crown South Dakota captured its second North Central Conference swimming and diving championship in three years in one of the closest meets in league history after three days of competition in Grand Forks, ND.
The meet concluded Feb. 20.
The Coyote men scored 1,011 points compared to North Dakota's 1,005.
"We squeaked out a win. In 1997, we won when we were down by 60 and this time we were only down by 47 so we knew that we could do it," said head coach Ron Allen.
USD entered the last day of the meet trailing the Fighting Sioux by 47 points, 702-655. Meanwhile, on the women's side the Coyotes finished fourth with 444 points — only seven points from third-place St. Cloud State. North Dakota took the women's crown with 1,037 points.
Overall, the USD men and women combined for eight first-place performances, four North Central Conference records and
the Coyotes had 13 events automatically qualify for the NCAA Division II meet scheduled for March 10-13 in Buffalo, NY.
South Dakota's men were led by senior Zach Weiss, junior Justin Devlin and junior Shad Durham.
Weiss set a conference record in winning the 50 freestyle with a national qualifying time of 20.49 after posting a 20.45 in the prelims. He set a league mark in the prelims of the 100 freestyle with an NCAA qualifying time of 45.55 and in the finals he took first in 45.69. Weiss also placed second in the 200 freestyle (1:42.65).
Devlin set a conference record in the 200 breaststroke with a national qualifying mark of 2:03.51 after going 2:02.77 in the prelims. In the 100 breaststroke, Devlin qualified for nationals in the prelims with a 57.28 and he took home the gold in the finals with a 57.60.
Durham was named the NCC Male Diver of the Year after winning the three-meter diving competition with 503.45 points, and he finished second on the one-meter board with 525.75 points which bettered the conference record.
The other winning effort for the USD was by junior Derek Dunlop with a 51.26 clocking in the 100 butterfly. Dunlop qualified for nationals in two events with second-place finishes in the 100 freestyle (46.04) and 50 freestyle (21.06).
The Coyote men tallied five other second-place efforts. Junior David Molesworth reached the national meet in the 100 backstroke with a 52.38, and he posted a 1:54.49 time in the 200 backstroke. Junior Matt Fox was runner-up in three-meter diving (465.40) and he was third on the one-meter board (491.65).
USD had two runner-up relays qualify for the NCAA meet with the 200 medley unit posting a 1:34.49 and the 400 medley relay team finishing in 3:28.80. The 400 freestyle relay foursome came in second as well (3:09.92).
Sophomore David Nelson qualified for nationals in the 100 breaststroke with a third-place time of 58.18, and he was fourth in the 200 breaststroke (2:09.03).
Junior Greg Perzinski took third in the 1,650 freestyle (16:31.20), while freshman Jason Foster was fifth in the 1,650 freestyle (16:38.24).
Freshman Torey Melton finished third in the 200 butterfly (2:00.70) and senior Bryan Ladrow was fourth in the 200 butterfly (2:00.77).
Senior Sarah Jansky paced the South Dakota women. She automatically qualified for the national meet in the 200 freestyle with a clocking of 1:54.89. Jansky also finished third in the 1,650 freestyle (17:54.20) and fifth in the 100 freestyle (53.91).
Junior Robyn Chrissinger earned a second-place finish in the 1,650 freestyle (17:52.35), and she qualified for nationals in the 400 individual medley with a fourth-place time of 4:37.64. Senior Kristy Healey placed fourth in the 100 freestyle (53.49) and fifth in the 100 backstroke (1:00.88).
The USD women had two relays qualify for the national meet with second-place times. The 800 freestyle unit came home in 7:48.00, while the 400 freestyle relay team turned in a 3:35.45. The 400 medley relay team finished fourth (4:03.48).