LAWRENCE, K.S. – Freshman Linda Ungerbock placed third in her first collegiate appearance and junior Casey Charles finished sixth in Carson-Newman's season opener at the CSCAA Open Water National Championships at Lone Star Lake in Lawrence, Kansas.
It was literally a photo finish between Ungerbock (Vienna, Austria) and the second-place finisher, Texas A&M's Joy Field, as both crossed the finish line at 1:03:55.3 in the women's 5k.
Race officials used a feed from a camera aimed at the finish line and determined that Field technically crossed before the young Eagle despite the identical times.
"She ran a great, tactical race," head coach Jordan Taylor said. "She had to fight against 76 girls and she tacked herself onto the back of the front five and never let go."
Ungerbock was the top swimmer among all Division II competition, placing two spots ahead of Neta Shiff of Grand Valley State University.
With the top-five finish, Ungerbock automatically qualified for the United States Open Water National Championships in Livermore, California in May 2020.
"The race will give her some more exposure in the open water high-level meets," Taylor said. "She will have a chance to show herself and maybe get picked up by a national team."
Charles turned in his best performance at the event in his third year in attendance, besting his 2018 mark by over five seconds in the men's 5k.
"He knows the drill," Taylor said. He had two top-15 finishes in the last couple of years. He was a little bit faster than in the past. He stuck with an elite group for most of the race and came out with a good result."
Overall, the Eagles finished fourth as a team on the men's side while the women finished ninth.
"For the other three guys, doing open water and pushing distance was a first-time experience for them," Taylor said. "Their performance is a testament to the work they've been doing since they got back to campus three weeks ago."
Freshman Rachel Peden (Boiling Springs, SC) placed 33rd and sophomore Meredith Ginn (Ocala, FL) finished 51st overall.
The Eagles competed amongst some big-name Division I schools such as the aforementioned Texas A&M as well as Kansas, Nebraska, Toledo, Rice, TCU, Providence College and Johns Hopkins.
"Rachel [Peden] has done a couple of open water events and she was competitive and had a great showing," Taylor said. "She ran a good tactical race as well in the main group of athletes in the field."
The event was also a first for Ginn, who typically performs in the 400-meter individual medley.
"She's a hard worker who prepared for this all summer," Taylor said. "I'm really proud of her effort. All of that training will now help her physically and mentally toward a really strong pool season."
That pool season begins for the Eagles at the annual Blue versus Orange Intra Squad Championships at the Maddox Student Center on Carson-Newman's campus in Jefferson City, Tennessee on Friday, September 27th, 2019.
Be sure to keep up with all of the action all season long across Carson-Newman's social media platforms.