BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – For the Carson-Newman swim team, the fourth and final day of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala. was much the same as the first three as the Eagles continued to have success on the national stage and went toe-to-toe with some of the country's best swimmers.
"I thought our swimmers were awesome," said C-N swim coach Jordan Taylor. "They got better and better over the four days and they also became closer as a team. We're still a young program and we're very inexperienced. Coming to the NCAA Championships is still a daunting experience. As we develop more experience, we'll gain more confidence. We're going to gain more exposure to the elite level of swimming and continue to improve."
Margaret Stansberry (Knoxville, Tenn.) began the night for the Eagles with a swim in the 100 free. Her final time of 51.06 placed her 12th in the country and she picked up an Honorable Mention All-American accolade. This marks two years-in-a-row Stansberry has finished in the top 16 nationally in this event, as she placed third in the 100 free last year.
"Margaret set a really high standard last year," said Taylor. "She raced hard and prepared really well. I'm really proud of her. There aren't many people in the country who can claim to be an All-American in five events."
Four races later, Maggie Melhorn (Knoxville, Tenn.) put on an outstanding performance in the "B" final of the women's 200 breaststroke. The junior broke her own program record in the morning's preliminary with a mark of 2:15.28, but she swam even faster in the evening. Melhorn turned in a time of 2:13.66, which was quicker than all but two of the participants in the "A" final and garnered her recognition as an Honorable Mention All-American. She also gained a chance to swim in the American Open Championships in New York during the summer. The Knoxville native leaves Birmingham having earned that status in four events, giving her eight total in her C-N career.
"For Maggie I'm over the moon," said Taylor. "She's always flown under the radar despite posting some of the fastest times in the country over the last two years. This shows her true class. I'm really pleased she was able to make that breakthrough."
The final event of the NCAA Championships for the Eagles was the women's 400 free relay and they made sure to go out with a bang. After finishing 16th in the preliminary race, the crew of Stansberry, Elly Culp (West End, N.C.), Lexy Raybon (Sarasota, Fla.) and Lisa Postma (Leiden, Holland) jumped up to 12th in the final, clocking in at 3:26.83 to grab Honorable Mention All-American recognition once more. For Stansberry this was her fifth accolade at nationals this year, while for Postma, Raybon and Culp, it marked their third.
Over the course of this four day championship meet, the Eagles reached All-American status in 12 events with 30 separate honors being bestowed upon 13 student-athletes. The women finished the event with in 17th place with 87 points, matching the best finish in program history. The men compiled 24 points to finish 26th. The Queens (N.C.) Royals won the national championships for both the men and women for the third consecutive year. The women racked up 467 points compared 385 for second place Drury, while men totaled 563.5, over 200 points better than second place Wingate.
For news and updates on Carson-Newman swim program during the offseason, you can visit cneagles.com and follow @cnathletics on Twitter.