Seven Eagles head to Hoosier State for NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

Seven Eagles head to Hoosier State for NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

VIDEO: Paige McCord Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Juniors Nancy Claire Smith (Franklin, Tenn.) and Samantha Starnes (Knoxville, Tenn.), sophomores Margaret Stansberry (Knoxville, Tenn.), Lexy Raybon (Sarasota, Fla.) and Maggie Melhorn (Knoxville, Tenn.) and freshmen Lisa Postma (Leiden, Holland) and Elly Culp (West End, N.C.) will all compete amongst the nation's best at the Division II Swimming and Diving Championships at IU Natatorium in Indianapolis that will begin on Wednesday and run through Saturday.

The seven Eagles were selected for postseason competition due to their times in various events throughout the season.

Raybon and Stansberry each have times in the top-17 of the nation that qualified the duo based on individual performances, while the other five gained entrance to the National Championships based on times in the 200 and 800 Free.

"They have done just a tremendous job in every aspect," coach Paige McCord said of her swimmers. "These young ladies have come in and defined for themselves what a champion looks like. I'm really proud of them and what that means for our program for this year and the years to come. This is a wonderful opportunity for us all."

Raybon, Stansberry, Melhorn and Smith own the nation's third-quickest time in the 800 Free with a school record-breaking swim of 7:27.92. Stansberry, Culp, Postma and Starnes were members of the 200 Free Relay that reset the school record in a time of 1:33.74, which is the ninth-quickest time in Division II.

Last season, Starnes, Stansberry, Raybon and Melhorn were four of the five Eagles to head to Indianapolis in the program's first appearance at the Swimming and Diving Championships. Each member of the quartet left the Hoosier State with an Honorable Mention All-American plaudit.

"Lexy and Margaret were fortunate to go last season along with Maggie and Samantha. They've already been there and had the experience of what it will take," McCord said. "They have been focused from the beginning and set the example of what it will take with several others in being focused on this meet. This is not just a bonus meet. This is there their primary event of the season that they are focused on. What I expect from them is to continue to do well, race hard and continue to drop time.

"They are very prepared and looking great in the water. All of seven of them have been a joy to coach."

Stansberry owns two top-five times in the nation in both the 100 and 200 Free. In the 100 Free, the sophomore reset the school record with a time of 50.27 seconds at the Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships. Her time of 1:49.10 in the 200 Free ranks fifth in the nation and is also a Carson-Newman record.

The sophomore also owns provisional times in the 50 Free, 500 Free, 100 Back and 200 Individual Medley. Her time of 2:03.80 in the 200 I.M. is the 11th-quickest in the nation. Stansberry has reset five Carson-Newman records during her second season at Mossy Creek.

Raybon possesses five B-cuts in the 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 Free and the 200 Fly. Her best time is in the 500 Free with a swim that ranks 11th after completing the event in 4:56.40 at the BMC Championships. Raybon has the nation's 14th-quickest time in the 200 Fly with a time of 2:03.68.

Melhorn has four times that qualify as provisional cuts with her best time coming in the 200 I.M; the sophomore's 2:04.88 is ranked 19th in the nation. Melhorn's other provisional times include: the 200 Free (1:51.91), 100 Breast (1:03.89) and 200 Breast (2:18.35). The Knoxville-native ranks 28th and 26th in the 100 and 200 Breast, respectively. Melhorn's time in the 100 Breast is the C-N school record.

Smith owns two provisional times in the 200 Breast and 500 Free. The junior has a 2:21.43 time in the 200 Breast and a swim of 5:06.65 in the 500 Free.

Starnes was an Honorable Mention All-American last season and will return to the IU Natatorium in 2016. She owns B-cut times in the 50 and 100 Free; in the 50, Starnes swam a 23.78, while posting a 52.12 in the 100.

Postma will also compete in the 50 and 100 Free during her first season at Mossy Creek after registering provisional times in each event. She owns a 23.77 seconds time in the 50 Free and a 52.12-second mark in the 100.

Culp owns B-cuts in the 50 Free and 100 Fly. The freshman has the team's second-quickest time in the 50 Free with a swim of 23.76 seconds at the BMC Championships. Culp has the 19th-fastest time in Division II in the 100 Fly with a 55.78 second swim.

The women's program has one All-American in the three years of its existence; Natalie Burnett was an All-American and finished third in the 100 Back and 100 Fly last season.

The four-day Division II Swimming and Diving Championships begin on March 9 in Indianapolis. Queens (N.C.) Royals are the reigning men's and women's champions.