NCAA Championship Preview
NCAA Championships – Mar. 6-9, 2013
CrossPlex Complex, Birmingham, Ala.
The 2012-13 Division II swimming and diving championships are part of the NCAA Division II Sports Festival taking place in Birmingham, Ala. NCAA Division II championships in wrestling and indoor track and field are also taking place in Birmingham this week. AU will have 10 student-athletes at the swimming championships – seven women and three men. The swimming and diving championships will run from Mar. 6-9, Wednesday through Saturday.
About the AU Women
The Eagle women were seventh at last year's championships in Mansfield, Texas. AU has placed in the top seven at nationals for three consecutive years. In 2011, the Eagles were fifth. That's the highest finish in the program's history. The 2010 contingent was seventh. A year ago, AU had seven women reach the NCAA Championships.
Senior Julie Widmann (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) is one of only two female swimmers in school history (Jamie Minnich-McDaniel is the other) to win an individual national championship. Widmann was first last spring in the 100 backstroke (54.66). Widmann has a total of three national titles – in 2010 and 2011 she was part of the 200 free relay that placed first.
This year, Widmann will compete in the 50 freestyle (23.15), 100 backstroke (55.48), the 200 medley relay (1:43.99) and the 200 free relay (1:33.86). A year ago, Widmann was third in the 50 freestyle (23.10) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (50.92). In 2011, she was third in both the 50 freestyle (23.14) and 100 backstroke (55.65).
Widmann was part of the 200 medley that was third last year (1:43.47). Two other members of that quartet are back in Alabama – senior Rachael Ausdenmoore (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) and junior Sara Reidler (Gahanna, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln). Ausdenmoore has two national championships as part of the 200 free relay. She will swim on two relays this year. Reidler will also swim in the 100 backstroke (56.30) this year. A year ago, she earned All-America honors in that event by placing eighth (56.42).
After winning national titles in 2010 and 2011, the 200 free relay was fourth (1:33.41) last year. Wayne State won the championship last year. Widmann, Ausdenmmore and junior Gabriela Verdugo-Arzaluz (Chihuahua, Mexico/Institute Technologico y de Estudious Superiores de) competed in that event a year ago and that trio is back in Birmingham.
Three freshmen will compete for AU at this year's championships – Beth Long (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Hannah Mattar (Lake Orion, Mich.) and Kaylyn Murphy (West Carollton, Ohio) Long is in the 200 medley, Mattar is slated to race in the 200 breaststroke (2:18.18) and Murphy is in the 50 freestyle (23.55) and the 200 medley and 200 free relays.
AU head coach Paul Graham directs both the men's and women's programs. Graham is in his 13th year at Ashland. He was the 2009-10 NCAA Division II women's swimming and diving coach of the year.
Women's Championship Picture
The AU women are ranked 19th in the country. UC-San Diego is ranked first, West Chester is second and defending national champion Wayne State is third. When the Warriors reached the top of the awards stand a year ago, it put an end to a run of three consecutive national championships for Drury. WSU barely held off the Panthers, the Warriors finished one point ahead of Drury. The Panthers went into the final day of competition trailing by 55 points.
Next year's national championship meet will take place in Geneva, Ohio, at the SPIRE Institute.
About the AU Men
Junior Alex Sheil (Sydney, Australia/Trinity) has been exceptional all season. He's in the 200 freestyle (1:38.15). Sheil missed the GLIAC Championships due to a foot injury. It will be interesting to see how he rebounds on the national stage. At the 2012 national championships, Sheil was 12th in the 200 IM (1:50.21).
Senior Cheyne Fisher (Durban, South Africa/Westville) shouldn't have any butterflies about being matched against the best in the country. At last year's championships, he was fifth in the 200 breaststroke (1:58.18) and eighth in the 100 breaststroke (55:04). In 2011, Fisher was second in the 200 breaststroke (1:57.44) and third in the 100 breaststroke (54.26). Fisher is scheduled to compete in the 100 breaststroke (54.86) and 200 breaststroke (1:58.69).
Another senior, Mauricio Uranga (Chihuahua, Mexico/La Salle Chihuahua), will swim in the 200 backstroke (1:47.15).
A year ago, AU was 16th at nationals. AU had five swimmers competing in 2012 and was able to qualify four relays.
The last member of the Ashland men's swimming program to win a national championship was David Kalange in the 200 butterfly in 1996. Kalange, Brad McCoy (1969, 1970, 1971), Colin Montgomery (1970) and Jeff Rogers (1972) are the four AU men to win national championships.
Men's Championship Picture
Drury has won eight consecutive national championships and boasts 10 NCAA Division II national titles in its history. The Panthers are ranked first in the country entering this year's meet. Incarnate Word is ranked second and Florida Southern is third. The Eagles are ranked ninth in the nation.