Central Falls Just Short of Third Straight NEC Championship

The Central Connecticut State University swimming and diving team started the final day of the Northeast Conference Championships down 28.5 points. After the first three events of day three CCSU found itself up by 41.5 points, but St. Francis (PA) won the final three events and went on to win the meet by 48 points. The Blue Devils, who had won the last two NEC Championships were the Runners-up with 508.5 points.

The three-meter diving event started the finals competition on Saturday. Sophomore Madison Vestergaard had to absolutely stick her final dive and did, winning the six dive event by two tenths of a point over Sacred Heart's Drew Mulvey. Senior Kristen Rossi took third in the three-meter with a score of 201.00.

The 1650 freestyle was the first swimming event of the night. Freshman Taylor Friedmann won the event by just under 17 seconds, breaking the CCSU freshman record with a time of 17:01.99. Friedmann, who also won the 200 and 500 freestyle events at the meet, was named NEC Co-Swimmer of the Meet and Co-Rookie of the Meet for her performances. She shared the honor with Bryant's Casey Ostrander.

Senior Kandra Kane, and freshmen Lauren O'Kelly and Christine Smith took third, fourth and fifth places in the event, respectively. Kane timed in at 17:33.04 while O'Kelly and Smith touched in within a second of each other (17:46.96 and 17:47.21).

In the next event CCSU placed three swimmers in the top five. Sophomore Alex Czaplicki defended her crown in the 200 backstroke, winning in a time of 2:04.38. Freshmen Hannah Packer and Allison Rasile placed third and fifth in the event, respectively. Packer finished in 2:06.27, while Rasile touching in at 2:09.64 for the Blue Devils.

St. Francis (PA) made up plenty of ground in the 100 free, taking second, third, fourth and fifth places in the event. The Red Flash then earned gold and silver medalist honors in the 200 breaststroke to take the lead back from the Blue Devils. Sophomore Kristen Malski was the top finisher for CCSU in the 200 breast, placing fourth in a time of 2:26.97. Junior Alyssa Carlucci and Smith took eighth (2:30.75) and 10th place (2:33.06), respectively.

Freshman Katie Lang came from way behind halfway through the 200 butterfly to tie last year's NEC Champion Jessica Hart for second place in the event. Lang and Hart recorded identical times of 2:06.81.

The final event of the night, and the meet, was the 400 freestyle relay. CCSU's team of Czaplicki, Kane, Lang and Friedmann finished second to St. Francis (PA), touching in at 3:30.81. The Red Flash finished with 556.5 points to Central's 508.5 and stopped the Blue Devils from winning their third straight NEC Championship. Wagner, Bryant and Sacred Heart rounded out the top five finishers in the meet.

CCSU, who is made up of mostly sophomores and freshman, should vie for the title once again in 2011. For now, the Blue Devils will challenge for the ECAC Championship February 26-28.