Amherst Teams Each Place Fifth at NCAA Championships; Lord Jeff Men Earn Best Finish in Program History
First-year Ryan Lichtenfels had an impressive showing in his first NCAA Championship appearance.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Amherst College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams each placed fifth at the NCAA Division III Championships, which began this past Wednesday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. The Lord Jeffs won three individual titles during the four-day championship, while Kenyon College repeated as team champions on both the men’s and women’s sides.
This marks the best finish for the Amherst men’s team in program history, as the Lord Jeffs had never cracked the top five at the national championships prior to this weekend. The Amherst women, who had placed second at each of the past two national championships, landed in fifth with 201.5 points, while the men racked up 196 points.
Kenyon College claimed both the men’s and women’s team titles. The Kenyon men have won 30 consecutive national championships since 1980, while the women have won each of the past three and 23 in total.
Leading Amherst on Saturday was sophomore Kendra Stern (Albuquerque, NM), who earned a national title in the 100-yard freestyle for the second consecutive year. Stern had won last year’s national championship (49.78), but she was able to outdo herself by swimming a 49.37, finishing 0.37 seconds ahead of Emory’s Ruth Westby. It was the third individual title of the weekend for Amherst, with Stern winning Thursday’s 200-yard freestyle and sophomore Alex Fraser (Willowbrook, IL) winning the 500-yard freestyle on Wednesday.
Stern also shined on Saturday by swimming the second leg of Amherst’s 400-yard freestyle relay, as Amherst came up just short of repeating as national champions in the event. Stern joined seniors Mary Marvel (Williamsburg, MA), Erin Morrison (Old Greenwich, CT) and older sister Meaghan Stern (Albuquerque, NM) to finish third with a time of 3:25.17, while Denison set a new national record of 3:21.97.
On the men’s side, first-year Ryan Lichtenfels (McLean, VA) led Amherst by placing second in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Kenyon had won the race in each of the past 19 national championships, and the streak continued on Saturday despite an impressive showing from the Amherst newcomer. Lichtenfels swam a 15:23.15 to finish behind repeat champion Kegan Borland (15:19.98) of Kenyon.
The Lord Jeff men had several stellar performances on the evening, including a sixth-place showing from junior Tad Homchick (Mercer Island, WA), Fraser, first-year Ben McBratney (Evanston, IL) and senior Christian Witzke (Jacksonville, FL) in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:01.22).
Also placing in the top 10 were first-year Tim White (Centerport, NY) and Fraser. While White placed eighth in the 200-yard backstroke with a solid time of 1:51.37 to wrap up his first appearance in the national championships, Fraser swam a 44.53 to win the consolation heat of the 100-yard freestyle.
Wrapping up his diving career was senior Kai Robinson (Vashon, WA), who placed third in Saturday’s 3-meter dive with a score of 516.10. Robinson also placed fourth in the 1-meter dive on Thursday (494.30) after he had won national titles in each event as a junior.
Kendra Stern – 1st (49.37)*
Mary Marvel – 24th (52.35)
Meaghan Stern – 54th (53.43)
Kara MacLaverty – 31st (2:08.52)
Alex Lee – 34th (2:09.28)
400-yard freestyle relay
Mary Marvel, Kendra Stern, Erin Morrison, Meaghan Stern – 3rd (3:25.17)
Amherst College Day Four Men’s Results
Alex Fraser – 9th (44.53)
Christian Witzke – 44th (46.41)
Ryan Lichtenfels – 2nd (15:23.15)
Tim White – 8th (1:51.37)
Reid Fitzgerald – 32nd (1:54.04)
Bart Federak – 23rd (2:05.39)
Mike O’Connor – 28th (2:07.17)
400-yard freestyle relay
Tad Homchick, Alex Fraser, Ben McBratney, Christian Witzke – 6th (3:01.22)
Kai Robinson – 3rd (516.10)