Denison men place third at D-III nationals

3rd Place Denison Men's Swimming & Diving Team  |  Photo by Joe Buvid
3rd Place Denison Men's Swimming & Diving Team | Photo by Joe Buvid

SHENANDOAH, Texas--  The Denison men's swimming & Diving team ran their streak of top-3 finishes at the NCAA Division III Championship to 12 after totaling 371 points at the four-day, 20 event championship at the Conroe ISD Natatorium. 

Emory University won their first men's swimming & diving national championship with 438 points.  Kenyon edged out DU for second place with 384 points.  Denison was third followed by Johns Hopkins in fourth place with 295.

Saturday marked the Big Red's best scoring day of the championship as they were powered by 32 points in the 200 backstroke, 33 points on the 3-meter dive and 128 points on the night.

Senior Max Levy won his fourth career national championship by scoring a 69.00 on his final dive to overtake Connor Brisson of NYU on the 3-meter board.  Levy's final dive of the finals was a forward 2 ½ somersault 1 twist pike (5152B). That netted him an 11-dive total of 588.20.  Levy's highest scoring dive of the finals was his second where he totaled 72.00 on his back 2 ½ somersault pike (205B). 

Fellow senior, Brian Allen, finished in sixth place with a score of 516.25.  Allen's best dive was his third of the finals, a 63.00 on his back 2 ½ somersault pike.  This was Allen's fifth All-American certificate of his career.

Levy was named the Male Diver of the Year for the second time in his career in the post-meet awards ceremony.  He previously took home the honor in 2015.  He leaves DU as the programs' only 8-time All-American and his four national titles rank him first all-time among divers.  Head diving coach Russ Bertram was named the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.

Back in the competition pool, after winning the 200 backstroke in 2016 with a time of 1:46.10, Jack Lindell broke his own school record in the event and lowered his time from the previous year to 1:45.32.  Despite all of the improvement, that couldn't account for Benjamin Lin of Williams who edged out Lindell for the national championship touching in 1:44.00.  Lindell's second-place finish earned 17 points toward DU's total.  It was Lindell's fifth All-American swim of the meet and the 17th of his career.  That moves into a tie with Adam Kamlet '91, Carlos Maciel '14 and Adam Ulrich '07 on Denison's All-American leaderboard (t-17th).

Also swimming in the championship heat of the 200 backstroke was Jason Wesseling.  He placed eighth while swimming out of lane eight in 1:50.12.  In the consolation final, Bebe Wang finished fifth in the heat to garner 13th place in 1:47.99.  That event moved DU past Johns Hopkins and into third place.  It also pulled them to within 29.5 points of second-place Kenyon.

The lead was short-lived as the Lords rallied with 34.5 points in the 200 breaststroke after taking second, sixth and tying for 12th.  That 28.5 point swing put Kenyon in second place by 58 points entering the 3-meter dive.  Swimming for DU in the 200 breaststroke was Jake Ball who finished 11th in 2:01.05.  He took .92 seconds off his time from morning prelims.

Earlier in the night, Zach Wagner posted a blistering time of 44.38 in the 100 free to place fifth.  It was the fifth All-American performance of the meet for Wagner.  In the 1,650 freestyle, Denison had two scorers as Matt Hedman placed 10th in 15:41.40 and Ben Burdick took 15th in 15:48.90. Burdick has placed 15th, 12th and seventh in the last three years in the mile.

The meet was capped off by a rousing performance in the 400 free relay by Denison's Walt Dauksher, Max Howes, Kenny Fox and Wagner.  The foursome went stroke for stroke with Emory throughout the race but the Eagles squeaked out the win with a time of 2:56.68.  DU posted a time of 2:57.11 as Max Howes split of 44.25 on the second leg put Denison out in front at the 250 mark.

The Denison men totaled 28 All-American swims and four event national championships.  This is the 20th top-3 national finish in program history.  The Big Red has finished in the top-10 in the national standings every year since 1983.