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Liberty Claims 1st CCSA Championship Title

February 22, 2014
|  Knoxville, Tenn.
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Liberty held off five-time defending conference champion Florida Gulf Coast, edging the Eagles to earn the 2014 CCSA Women's Swimming & Diving Championship, as the meet closed on Saturday night at Tennessee's Allan Jones Aquatic Center.

The Lady Flames won the team title with 732.5 points, defeating Florida Gulf Coast by 14 points, as the Eagles scored 718.5 points. Georgia Southern (423), Davidson (406) and Incarnate Word (336) followed in third through fifth. Liberty had finished as runner-up to FGCU in 2012 and 2013 prior to tonight's title.

Liberty head coach Jake Shellenberger was voted 2014 CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year, his second Coach of the Year Award (also 2012).

For the meet as a whole, Liberty recorded 18 podium finishes, nine B cuts, one A cut (200 medley relay), six CCSA records, six meet records and 16 program records. On Saturday, Liberty earned podium finishes in all six events.

Kristin VanDevneter opened the evening by breaking two program records while finishing third in the 1,650 free. She swam 10:11.74 on the way out, and placed third in 16:55.28. Teammate Hannah Wakeley swam a lifetime-best 16:59.65 for fourth. Heather McCorkel's lifetime-best 17:28.12 placed her 15th.

Emily Duff swam a program-record, NCAA B cut 1:57.52 in the 200 back A final, placing second, while Victoria Tschoke (lifetime-best 2:00.49) took sixth, followed by Natalie Chambers (2:01.26) in seventh and Kendall Hough (2:01.84) in eighth. Jennifer Garzinski's personal best of 2:04.11 earned her 14th place.

Meghan Babcock swam a lifetime-best 50.53 to place third in the 100 free, while Hough tied for fifth, completing the 200 back/100 free double with a 51.03 in the 100 free. Chloe Thomas (51.11) and Cori Gary (51.94) were seventh and eighth.

Emilie Kaufman set a new CCSA, meet and program record in the 200 breaststroke, winning for the second year in a row, in an NCAA B cut time, 2:12.49. Morgan Noonan was seventh, in 2:22.19.

In the 200 fly, Jess Reinhardt defended her title, smashing her own CCSA, meet and program record (2:00.41) by swimming NCAA B cut 1:56.79, the 25th fastest time in the nation at present. Sisters Bethany Kennon (lifetime-best 2:00.59) and Hannah Wakeley (2:01.97) took fourth and fifth, while Ranndi Grubbs placed 10th, in a lifetime-best 2:05.61.

With the team title all but wrapped up, the Lady Flames took third in the meet-ending 400 free relay, as Reinhardt, Hough, Kaufman and Babcock went 3:23.66.

The Lady Flames had a fantastic morning session, earning 15 finals swims (13 in A finals and two in B finals).

Liberty placed four in the 200 back A final, and had one B finalist. Duff qualified in second, in NCAA B cut time of 1:58.50. Chambers (fifth – 2:00.14), Hough (2:00.65) and Tschoke (eighth – 2:00.83) all swam personal bests in prelims. Garzinski made the B final, swimming a lifetime-best 2:04.73.

The Lady Flames earned four 100 free A finalists, led in fourth position by Hough's top time, 50.72. Gary swam 50.77 to qualify in fifth, while Chloe Thomas' personal-best 50.81 was seventh. Babcock grabbed the eighth seed, in 51.26.

Kaufman led from start to finish in the 200 breast prelims, in NCAA B cut 2:15.18. Noonan posted a personal-best 2:19.13 to earn the fifth seed.

Three Lady Flames qualified for the A final in the 200 fly. Wakeley swam her best time, 2:01.37, good for third seed, while Kennon followed in fourth with a 2:03.00 clocking. Reinhardt went 2:04.21, claiming seventh. Grubbs took the last spot in the B final, qualifying in 16th with a 2:07.81.

Slack swam her fastest 100 free, 54.22, placing 29th overall. Kendrick wrapped up her career with a personal-best 2:15.88 in the 200 fly.

Courtney Fox completed her diving program, placing 21st in the women's three-meter diving event with a score of 176 points.

Liberty's 200 medley relay, which clocked an NCAA A cut on Wednesday, will await invitation to the 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, which take place from March 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn. Reinhardt and Kaufman both posted times this weekend that will almost certainly earn selection to the NCAA national meet.