Jeffs Capture Third Place at NESCAC Championships; Kendra Stern Named Swimmer of the Meet
MIDDLETOWN, CT – The Amherst College women’s swimming and diving team entered the 2008 NESCAC Championships having just completed a perfect 8-0 regular season, but the Lord Jeffs could not compete with the depth of rival Williams College, as the seven-time defending champion Ephs once again took home first place, finishing ahead of second-place Middlebury and third-place Amherst. Amherst first-year Kendra Stern (Albuquerque, NM) was named the Swimmer of the Meet, while senior Brittany Sasser (Belmont, MA) was one of two swimmers to earn the Four-Year Swimmer High-Point Award.
Williams jumped out to comfortable 164.5 point lead after the first day of the championships held at Wesleyan University. The Ephs accomplished this with depth, as only one of the nine events completed on Friday went to an Eph while Amherst, sitting in third place with 538.5 points, won three events and Middlebury, holding down the second spot with 565.5 points, captured two.
Indicative of the Williams depth was the 200-yard individual medley. While the title went to defending champ Sasser in a time of 2:03.97, Williams took the next four places as well as seventh to collect 129 points from the finals of the event alone. Sasser’s time set a new meet and pool record, and was good enough to qualify her for the NCAA Championships.
Amherst junior Meaghan Stern (Albuquerque, NM), who won the 500-yard freestyle a year ago, yielded to her sister, first-year Kendra, whose time of 4:57.42 was good enough for automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III Championships. Meaghan finished second in the event, 4.5 seconds back. Sasser and both Stern sisters teamed up with sophomore Ellen Fitzgerald (Indianapolis, IN) to help the Lord Jeff 400-yard medley relay win by a five-second margin in a meet-record and NCAA qualifying time of 3:50.34.
Williams dominated the second day and nearly doubled its margin over second-place Middlebury by adding 514 points to its total to stand at 1,244 points. Middlebury was 305.5 back with 938.5, followed closely by Amherst with 935.5 as the battle for second place looked to be a dog fight. Four individuals became NESCAC champions for a second time in the 2008 meet with three of them successfully defending their titles from a year ago. Repeating as a winner in the 100-yard backstroke for a second year was Sasser, who posted yet another automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Championships with a pool-record time of 55.60.
Newcomer Kendra Stern continued her impressive weekend with the day's greatest accomplishment when she won the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:49.18, becoming the first NESCAC woman in history to get below the 1:50 mark. She eclipsed the previous NESCAC record of 1:50.32 set by her sister Meaghan for Amherst in winning last year's title. Meaghan placed second three seconds behind her sister this year. The two combined with Sasser and junior Alex Lee (Piedmont, CA) to win the 800 free relay in a NESCAC meet-record time of 7:30.29, which was also good enough for an automatic bid to nationals.
Williams put the finishing touches on its eighth consecutive NESCAC title by capturing two of the seven events decided on Sunday. The most outstanding individual effort of the day was once again turned in by Kendra Stern, whose time of 50.56 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle was a NESCAC, NESCAC meet and Wesleyan pool record as well as an automatic qualifying time for the NCAA Championships. Her margin of victory was a cool 1.48 seconds, giving her a sweep of the sprint freestyle events this year.
For her outstanding weekend, Kendra Stern earned NESCAC Swimmer of the Meet honors, as she was also was part of Amherst's NESCAC, meet and pool record-setting 400 free relay squad on Sunday. Kendra is only the second first-year to get the NESCAC Swimmer of the Meet award, joining Meredith Olson of Williams, who earned the honor back in 2001.
The award for most points scored in the NESCAC meet by a senior swimmer over four years went to two individuals - Marika Ross of Middlebury and Sasser. Sasser took the 200 backstroke on the final day of competition, while Ross completed her sweep of the butterfly events with a victory in the 200 fly.
The NCAA Division III Championships will begin Thursday, Mar. 13. The Lord Jeffs placed second at last year’s nationals, and are once again among the favorites to make a run at a national title.
Final Team Scoring
1. Williams – 1,853
2. Middlebury – 1,481.5
3. Amherst – 1,428.5
4. Connecticut – 831
5. Tufts – 814
6. Wesleyan – 765
7. Bowdoin – 737.5
8. Colby – 727
9. Bates – 612.5
10. Hamilton – 579
11. Trinity – 318
Amherst College NESCAC Championship Awards
Four-Year Swimmer High-Point Award: Brittany Sasser
Swimmer of the Meet: Kendra Stern
Amherst College Individual Champions
100 Freestyle – Kendra Stern – 50.56 *#@%
200 Freestyle – Kendra Stern – 1:49.18 *#@%
500 Freestyle – Kendra Stern – 4:57.42 @
200 Individual Medley – Brittany Sasser – 2:03.97 #@%
100 Backstroke – Brittany Sasser – 55.60 @%
200 Backstroke – Brittany Sasser – 1:59.79 @%
400 Medley Relay – Brittany Sasser, Ellen Fitzgerald, Kendra Stern, Meaghan Stern – 3:50.34 #@%
400 Freestyle Relay – Kendra Stern, Brittany Sasser, Lisa Pritchard, Meaghan Stern – 3:27.47 *#@%
800 Freestyle Relay – Kendra Stern, Brittany Sasser, Alex Lee, Meaghan Stern – 7:30.29 #@%
* NESCAC record
# NESCAC meet record
@ NCAA automatic qualifying performance
^ NCAA provisional qualifying performance
% Wesleyan Natatorium pool record