Issue   |   Tue, 02/19/2013 - 23:15
Courtesy of Katie Vincett '13

In each of the past four seasons, the Lady Jeffs had taken home second place at NESCACs, narrowly missing the first league championship in the program’s history. Now, the wait is finally over. Setting a school mark with 1927.5 points over the three-day NESCAC Championship event, the Lady Jeffs stormed into Brunswick, Maine and captured their first ever conference title.

The Ephs, who had won each of the previous 12 league titles, saw their dynasty come to an end as they were forced to settle for second place. As it turned out, the Jeffs had just enough to top their rivals, outdoing them by a mere 63 points. As part of its stellar effort, the Amherst squad recorded victories in eight individual events and three relay events. Astoundingly, along the way, the team also set eight program records.

The Lady Jeffs headed into the championship event having won their last three meets against Springfield, MIT and Hamilton. In fact, they had only lost once on the season, in a road contest against Williams on Jan. 5. Given this season’s earlier results — and the results of the last four years — this meet was basically a two-team battle for the crown. The Ephs appeared to be every bit as good as advertised, as they were undefeated in league play and had yet to face a true test.

Luckily, the Lady Jeffs featured perhaps their most talented squad ever, a fact that was evident right from the outset of the event. One of the key players on the weekend was first-year Emily Hyde, who got the Jeffs off to a great start on Day 1 of the event with a resounding victory in the 200-meter IM. She had already posted the top Div. III time in the nation during prelims (2:04.01), but her time in competition, 2:03.15, bested even that, also shattering the championship and Bowdoin pool record. She continued to shine in the 400-medley relay, where she and teammates Emily Swett ’13, Sarah Conklin ’16 and Katie Vincett ’13 clocked in at 3:46.58, good for a victory and the program record.

Steph Ternullo ’15 was equally instrumental in the Day 1 success; she narrowly beat out Williams’ Caroline Wilson in the 500 free with an NCAA “A” cut time of 4:53.21. Other individual winners were Lizzy Linsmayer ’14, who broke the pool record with a score of 478.45 in the one-meter dive, and Conklin, who broke the program record in the 50 fly on Day 1. Vincett also kicked off what would be a stellar individual weekend with a second-place finish in the 50 free.

Despite the Lady Jeffs’ strong showing, however, the Ephs still led the field after the first day. By the time Day 2 was over, however, it was the Jeffs who sat on top for the first time in program history. With 1355.5 points, the Jeffs held a precarious lead over Williams, and, by the end of the day, they would be in position to finish off the Ephs.

The day’s highlights included the 200 medley, where Maddy Sprung-Keyser ’13, Hyde, Vincett and Nicole Heise ’13 set a school record with a winning time of 1:44.54. When it came time for individual competition, Hyde found herself back on the leaderboard with a second-place, school record and “A” cut time in the 400 IM. Conklin broke yet another mark with her winning time of 55:66 in the 100 fly, while Chudy took home the top spot in the 1000 free.

Ternullo also kept up her outstanding swimming with a second-place time of 1:51.12 in the 200 free. In all, 10 Jeffs (including Ternullo) also made the NCAA “B” cut on Day 2, reflecting the squad’s well-balanced effort.

As the final day of the tournament dawned, the Lady Jeffs knew that the Ephs would be gunning to take back the top spot. To say that they rose to the occasion would be an understatement. Hyde helped to make sure the Jeffs would not be denied this time, setting another program mark with a winning time in the 200 breast. Conklin, too, was a winner for the third time of the weekend, setting the pace in the 200 fly with a “B” cut time of 2:04.73. As had been the case all weekend, even the Jeffs who didn’t finish first excelled: Charlotte Chudy ’16 set a program record with her second-place time of 17:07.44 in the 1650 free. Linsmayer (three-meter dive); Vincett (100 free) and the team of Hyde, Ternullo, Vincett and Lulu Belak ’14 (400 free relay) also managed second place finishes on the final day.

Once all was said and done, the Jeffs finally got to celebrate, having held off the Ephs by the narrowest of margins. For her performance, Linsmayer was named the Diver of the Meet, while Conklin garnered Rookie of the Meet honors and Coach Nick Nichols took home the Coach of the Meet award. Not to be overlooked, Jesse Maple was also named Diving Coach of the Meet in honor of the excellent showings of Linsmayer and others.

Following the meet, co-captain Vincett was, not surprisingly, quick to sing her team’s praises.

“The incredible part of this meet was that it was an entire team effort,” she said. “Every single person had amazing races and earned points for the team.”

After having their regular season come to an end in spectacular fashion, the Lady Jeffs still have the NESCAC Championships, held in Texas during the week of spring break, to look forward to. The Jeff divers will also be headed to the NCAA Diving Regionals over the weekend of March 1-2.

Based on the Lady Jeffs’ cohesive effort at NESCACs, Vincett believes the squad will continue to excel.

“We have a few stars on the team,” she acknowledged, “but we would not have won without every single member contributing to the score.”