Feb. 11, the Trinity Tigers men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams competed in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in Rockwall, Texas. The Conference Championships concluded on Saturday, Feb. 14, with two conference titles claimed by the Trinity Tigers.
At the close of the first day, the men stood in third place (112 points). The Tigers had a rough start in the 200-meter medley relay after being disqualified for an early exchange. In the 800 freestyle relay, Stephen Culberson, Spencer Adickes, Gordon Allan and Andrew Thiesse finished first, posting the fourth-fastest time in SCAC meet history (6:49.35).
On the second day, the men catapulted into first place (351 points) thanks to a record-setting performance in the 200 freestyle relay. Kevin Thomas, Adam Thomas, Culberson and Isaac Johnson, posted a time of 1:21.37 breaking their own SCAC record from last year. In the 500 freestyle, Thiesse won for the second straight year after posting a time of 4:36.23. In the 50 freestyle, Culberson broke his previous SCAC record with a time of 20.21 seconds and successfully defended his title.
The Tigers extended their lead 90 points on the third day of competition to a total of 675. Thiesse continued his success winning the 400 IM (4:06.20). Culberson also won his second individual event and set a SCAC record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.39. Tom Jones won his first individual event in the 100 breaststroke (56.81). Johnson then broke the previous SCAC record in the 100 backstroke with a winning time of 50.88.
On the final day of competition, Culberson earned SCAC Male Swimmer-of-the-Meet for the second time, after winning the 100 freestyle with a SCAC record-winning time of 44.59. In his four years at Trinity, Culberson accumulated eight individual titles at conference, tying him for seventh most all time. The Tigers finished the day with the fourth-fastest time in SCAC Championship history (3:03.86) in the 400-yard free relay. The team included Adickes, Culberson, A. Thomas and Johnson. After the final day of competition, the Tigers posted a grand total of 962 points for the conference win, bringing the program total to eight.
“Our team is on the rise, and I’m very confident it’s going to stay that way,” Culberson said. “We want to be a national power in the future, and while we aren’t there quite yet, we are working closer and closer to achieving that status each year.”
The women started off strong the first day with 92 points, holding a 12-point lead over second-place Southwestern. Like the men, the women won the 800 freestyle relay thanks to efforts from Lauren Cuda, Lydia Jones, Rachel Hure and Bethany Rysak who posted the third fastest time SCAC meet history (7:44.08).
Trinity’s women did not ease up in day two of competition, finishing the day with 393 points and a 121-point lead over second place. In the 1-meter dive event, Sarah Kate Mrkonich stole the show with her winning 432.55 points. Continuing the success, Cuda, Lindsay Hagmann, Rysak and Lydia Jones won the 200-yard freestyle with their time of 1:35.03, a Trinity record. Rebecca Andruzzi finished first in the 500 freestyle (5:10.54). The women won the 50 freestyle as well, as L. Jones took first (23.45), breaking a Trinity record in the process.
By the end of day three, Trinity still had a total of 639 points. Andruzzi championed the 400 IM (4:40.03). L. Jones followed with a strong performance of her own in the 200 freestyle, setting a SCAC record with her winning time of 1:52.17.
Day four saw continued success from the women. Mrkonich started things off with a win on the 3-meter board (513.25), earning a scoring that is fifth-best in SCAC history. Keeping things in high gear, Andruzzi took home the crown in the 1650 freestyle (17:59.73). L. Jones then took the stage in the 100 free, where she won her third individual title with her record-breaking time of 51.14 seconds. L. Jones followed this performance by helping her teammates Cuda, Hagmann and Rysak win the 400 relay (3:31.72).
By the end of the meet, the Tigers had racked up 954 points for the conference title, winning conference for a 12th straight year. For their performances, L. Jones won SCAC Female Swimmer-of-the-Meet and Mrkonich won SCAC Female Diver-of-the-Meet. The Tiger coaching staff was also named SCAC Women’s Co-Staffs-of-the-Year.
“Everyone of us had to step up and make sacrifices in the way we trained and in which events we swam, but it made it that much more rewarding,” L. Jones said.
After stellar individual and team performances Patzke spoke to the success the divers experienced.
“It’s incredible that [Sarah Kate] can come in and compete in one of the most important meets of the year and complete two exemplary performances and take home conference diver of the meet,” Patzke said.
Next up for the Tiger divers is the NCAA Division III Zone Regional Feb. 27-28 at the Blossom Athletic Center.
The Zone Regional will determine which divers qualify for nationals. These divers will join the rest qualified swimmers in the NCAA Division III Nationals, scheduled for March 18-21 in Shenandoah, Texas.