Last year we saw a heck of a battle between CMS and Denison with Denison grabbing the win. CMS was supposed to return everyone this year but losing their 1:01 breastroke split will likely be enough to doom their chances of getting atop the podium this time. Denison lost 2 of their key legs, including a 55 leadoff. While this is disappointing for both teams, I’m not sure the rest of the country is going to feel too badly.
Emory is the top seed from a Miami Invite time. You have to slide down to the 11th spot before you find another entry time coming from midseason. Significant? Yes. Sign of a sure victory? No. Denison reloaded and will once again vie for the title. Only their anchor is the same as last year so experience is not on their side.
The battle for victory appears to be a two team dual. Despite their breastroke loss, CMS is ranked 3rd this year. That ranking, however, is a bit deceptive. 3rd place is nearly 3 seconds behind 2nd. While a lot can change from now until then, that’s a lot of ground to make up for anyone. One team that may be able to do it would be Williams. The relay returns 3 of their 4 legs but only 1 of those legs, Ms. Todhunter, is listed on the relay. She will be key if Williams is to rise up and challenge Emory and Denison. Last year she split a staggering 53.3, but this was actually slower than her NCAA record performance. They’ll need it all if they hope to knock of a top 2 team.
Sleeper: Kenyon. No one is sleeping on Kenyon but this is the only other relay, with Emory, to put up their time at midseason. A rookie coach will draw on D1 experience, as well of that of Mr. Steen, to ensure these ladies are swimming to their potential. While I don’t know where their stud breastroker ever went, they have enough strong legs here to vie for a top 3 position as much as anyone else.
Winner: Emory. I honestly don’t think it will be that close. I look for Emory to win by 1.5-2 seconds and possibly break Denison’s record time. They don’t have a weak leg they have been working for this since the beginning of the season when they set out not just to win the meet, but were likely eyeing this relay as well.