BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -
UC San Diego junior Nicholas Korth
blazed to a school-record 1:54.61 in an incredible silver-medal-winning performance in the 200 breaststroke on the final night of the 2013 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
The Triton women secured a third-place trophy for a fifth consecutive season and 11th time in 13 years at the Division II level with 313 points. Drury reclaimed the crown after a one-year hiatus (432.5), with 2012 champion Wayne State falling back into second (388). The Triton men placed seventh with 237 points. Drury coasted to a ninth straight title with 546 points. Florida Southern was closest (397).
The four-day championships were held as part of the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival, co-hosted by the Gulf South Conference and the city of Birmingham and featuring over 1,000 student-athletes from five sports that crowned their team champions Saturday.
Korth's was a dominant showing for the Triton co-captain in his specialty, as he was narrowly touched-out at the wall by Eetu Karvonen. The Grand Canyon senior from Finland successfully defended both of his breaststroke titles this week, with a 200 mark of 1:54.57. The standouts both shattered Karvonen's Division II standard from last year's final of 1:56.11.
Korth had already broken his own school record once in the event in morning prelims, turning in a 1:56.23 as the top finals qualifier by more than a full second over the remainder of the field, with Karvonen behind him in 1:57.59.
In all on the day, the Valencia native shaved nearly three seconds off his then-school-record 1:57.19 that won him the national title as a freshman back in 2011.
Korth entered the event with the second-best time nationally this season of 1:57.49 from last month's conference meet, slower only than Incarnate Word senior Thiago Parravicini, who was third-fastest both this morning (1:57.76) and at night (1:56.72), more than two seconds back of Karvonen and Korth in the latter race.
In an exhilarating neck-and-neck finale to the two-year rivalry between the two that also served as a crowd-pleasing conclusion to the individual racing at these championships, Karvonen led by .29 seconds at the 50-yard mark, extended to .77 seconds at 100, still led by .61 at 150, and hung on for dear life for the final 50.
After missing out on the championship final of the 100 breast by .01 seconds in Friday morning prelims, Korth swam the remainder of his three-race program like a man on a mission, not just setting school records, but blowing them out of the water in .62, .96 and 1.62 seconds, respectively.
Junior co-captain Anji Shakya, who had qualified in fifth for the championship final of the 100 free in a then-career-best 50.76, out-did herself at night, sprinting 50.58 and touching third with Bente Heller of Alaska Fairbanks to share bronze-medalist honors. She fell just .02 seconds short of Rosanna Delurgio's school record of 50.56.
Shakya jumped back in the water moments later for the consolation final of the 200 back and placed 12th overall in 2:03.38 (2:01.76 prelims).
Her marathon five-race final day concluded as the anchor leg of the third-place 400 free relay in 3:24.61. Seniors Olivia Fountain and Katherine Tse, in their swan songs as Tritons, and true freshman Colleen Daley, joined her on the podium. UCSD trailed Tampa by .78 seconds, but Shakya (50.23 split) tracked down Spartan junior Heather Glenday (51.19) for bronze. With four races already in the books, it was the fastest anchor split all day for the six-time All-American in this year's meet alone.
Fountain, Daley, fourth-year senior Amber Tan in her finale and Tse had advanced UCSD into the championship final in 3:26.90, the seventh-fastest time during morning prelims.
Adam Rice was 11th overall after the consolation final of the 200 breast (2:00.16), his last race for UCSD. His prelim swim of a personal-record 1:59.96 moved him up from No. 4 to No. 3 on the all-time program chart.
Just like in Wednesday's 200 IM, sophomore Eva Chen narrowly missed the championship final in the 200 breast, ninth-fastest in a season-best 2:19.47 before she placed 12th at night in 2:19.64.
Fourth-year senior teammates Beth Dong (21st, 2:05.09) and Casey Adams (24th, 2:22.94) capped their Triton careers in prelims of the 200 back and 200 breast, respectively.
In the grueling 1650 free, senior Jeremy Smith punctuated his time as a Triton with an 11th-place effort in 15:40.99. Junior teammate Erika Rodman rounded out her first Division II nationals in 24th (17:29.64) in the women's mile.
Other Saturday morning competitors for UCSD included Daley (27th, career-best 52.11), Tse (29th, 52.19), Tan (35th, 52.41) and sophomore Sierra Robbins (39th, 52.59) in the women's 100 free. Juniors Reid McCallum (31st, 45.67) and Alex Merrill (32nd, season-best 45.69), senior co-captain Julius Espiritu (49th, season-best 46.30) in his final swim as a Triton, and sophomore Dane Stassi (57th, 46.79) participated in prelims of the 100 free on the men's side. Freshman Michael Leung was 26th as the lone UCSD swimmer in the men's 200 back in a career-best 1:50.66.
Triton Notes: UCSD broke five school records at this meet and 12 this season ... Three of those record swims this week belonged to Nicholas Korth, lowering his own program standards once in the 100 breaststroke and twice in the 200 ... Former UCSD national champions spotted around the Birmingham CrossPlex Saturday night in addition to current Tritons Korth, Mercedes O'Brien, Anji Shakya and Dane Stassi, included current assistant coach Daniel Perdew, John Flowers, Matt Herman and Sandra Lopez ... Top-eight in individual events and relays at the NCAA Championships earn All-America recognition for swimmers and divers, while positions 9-16 garner All-America honorable mention ... UCSD wound up with 40 All-America (16 individual and 24 relay) and 28 All-America honorable mention (20 individual and eight relay) performances this week, alongside two gold-, two silver- and 10 bronze-medal (two individual and eight relay) efforts.
-- UCSDtritons.com --