Three Conference Titles | 20 All-Americans | One Individual National Champion
Centre Men Finish Second, Women Take Third at SAA Championships
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CentreColonels.com) – The Southern Athletic Association wrapped up its 2016-17 swimming and diving championships on Saturday. After four grueling days of competition, the men's team finished second with 742.5 points, while the women's team finished in third place with 767 points.
The final session of the championship meet began with diving and just like on the 1m board, the Colonels shined in the 3m competition. On the women's side, junior Sarah Hayhurst (Newburgh, Ind.) dominated the competition with 496.95 points to win her sixth SAA diving championship in three years and her third consecutive SAA Women's Diver of the Year honor. Sophomore Sierra Panting (Anchorage, Alaska) and freshman Kat Greenleaf (Louisville, Ky.) also placed in the top five on the 3m board to give the Colonels 50 of the 107 points distributed in the event.
For the men, junior Brad Nordin (Paintsville, Ky.) turned in his second runner-up finish of the conference championship with 351.60 points. With juniors Sam Holt (Louisville, Ky.) and Jack Miller (Richmond, Ky.) also landing in the scoring column for the Colonels, the Centre men's divers scored 41 points on the 3m board to lead all teams.
In the mile freestyle, freshmen Arthur Ensign-George (Louisville, Ky.) and Michael Hambleton (Lake Bluff, Ill.) as well as sophomore Tyler Stevenson (Franklin, N.C.) took second, fourth and sixth place in the event, respectively, with Ensign-George's time of 16:12.39 breaking his preliminary time by 21 seconds. On the women's side, freshman Chloe Grove (Bucyrus, Ohio) took fifth place in the mile with a time of 18:13.44 with freshman Cat Gleason (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) finishing one tenth of a second behind Grove in sixth place.
Junior Logan Oatman (Paducah, Ky.) dominated the men's 200-yard backstroke, finishing in 1:49.30 for a runaway victory. Oatman's winning time was over five full seconds faster than the second place time. The victory marked a sweep for the junior in the backstroke events for the 2017 conference championships.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: Logan Oatman
In the 200-yard freestyle, Centre swimmers posted three of the top six times on the women's side, led by freshman Annie Holmes (Louisville, Ky.), who finished second overall with a time of 53.25. Holmes was joined in the top six by junior Cameron Beach (Greenville, S.C.) and freshman Maddie Huber (Fort Thomas, Ky.), both of whom posted sub-54-second times. Sophomore Mitchell Collins (Richmond, Ky.) posted the fastest time for the Centre men in this event, finishing third overall in 47.15.
The final individual event for the Colonels was a great one as the Centre men and women swept victories in the 200-yard butterfly. Freshman Amelia Blankenbeker (Jeffersonville, Ind.) took first place for Centre on the women's side, finishing in 2:08.19. Blankenbeker was joined in the top five by junior Claire Coleman (Hurricane, W.Va.), who placed fifth with a time of 2:13.18.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: Amelia Blankenbeker
Junior Noah Martin (Spartanburg, S.C.) completed a personal sweep of the butterfly with his win in the 200-yard fly on Saturday. Martin took first place in the event in 1:52.53, finishing .28 seconds ahead of second place in the thrilling swim. Freshman Wilson Norris (Brentwood, Tenn.) joined Martin in the scoring column, placing fourth overall with a time of 1:55.39.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: Noah Martin
Finally, the Colonels closed out the conference championships on a high note, winning the 400-yard freestyle relay on both sides. Blankenbeker, Huber, Holmes and Beach posted a winning time of 3:33.79 in the women's relay, just edging Rhodes and Birmingham Southern. On the men's side, Collins, Oatman, Ensign-George and Martin shaved seven seconds off their seed time, posting a time of 3:08.29 to earn the full 40 points of first place, defeating Berry by two tenths of a second.
The Colonels will now wait to see if any of their individual event swimmers qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.