KINGSTON, R.I. – The Simmons University women's swimming & diving team finished second at the 2020 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Women's Championship, while senior Áine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) earned the Bruce Hutchinson Award as the meet's top swimmer and junior Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.) was named the meet's top diver this evening at the Tootell Aquatics Center on the campus of host University of Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I.
The Sharks scored 1426 points, while Roger Williams University earned its third crown in the last five years with 1519 points. Simmons won the first three events on the last day of finals competition and has finished either first or second in the meet in each of the last four years, including championships in 2018 and 2019.
The Sharks entered the final day of the meet facing a 115-point deficit to Roger Williams University, but narrowed it to 30 after scoring 85 points during the three-meter diving. Simmons claimed first place twice during the final night of competition, owning a 1209-1151 lead following the 100-yard freestyle, before Roger Wiliams jumped back in front after the 50-yard backstroke at 1244-1209. The Sharks countered following a big showing in the 200-yard breaststroke, taking a 1302-1285 advantage, but Roger Williams reclaimed the lead for good after the 200-yard butterfly at 1350-1341.
Simmons won 10 individual events and all three freestyle relay races during the meet and saw 13 competitors combine to achieve All-NEISDA status 53 times by virtue of a top-eight individual or top-four finish in a relay. The Sharks also combined to win 37 medals, including 23 golds.
Scholand earned the Swimmer of the Meet award as voted by the coaches to become the second swimmer in school annals to earn the award twice, joining Miriam Swisher (2016 and 2017). Scholand capped the meet with her third gold in a distance event with a time of 17:05.81 in the 1650-yard freestyle to obliterate the field by more than 84 seconds and earn her second NCAA "B" cut qualifying time of the meet. Scholand has never lost an individual race at the NEISDA championship, winning nine golds in three years as the only swimmer in school history to win all three of her individual entries in three different years. She went on to help the Sharks win the 400-yard freestyle relay as the third swimmer in a five-plus second win. Junior Olivia Walz (Natick, Mass.) led off the race, followed by sophomore Lauren Howard (Abington, Mass.) and senior anchor Laura List (Bedford, Mass.) touched the wall at 3:35.32. Scholand joined Howard, List and sophomore Sarah Singleton (Mission Hills, Calif.) in achieving All-NEISDA status in the maximum seven events, including wins in the 1000 and 500-yard freestyle to go with golds in the 800, 400 and 200-yard freestyle relays and a silver in the 400-yard medley relay. She and Singleton were the only swimmers on the squad to win all three of their individual events. Singleton took golds in the 100-yard butterfly and the 400 and 200-yard individual medley events earlier in the meet.
Manjikian was tapped the top Diver of the Meet after becoming the first diver in school history to win both the one and three-meter board titles. She erased her own school-record for an 11-dive set on the three-meter board on the final day by more than 20 points with a score of 392.85 for Simmons. Manjikian was joined on the medal stand by sophomore Natalie Krieg (Cambridge, Mass.), who placed third on the three-meter board with a score of 323.55, while senior Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.) capped her career with a fourth-place effort after tallying 301.50 points. The Simmons trio earned All-NEISDA accolades in both diving events during the meet.
List finished her collegiate career with a pair of gold medals on the final night of competition, winning the 100-yard freestyle by almost a second with a time of 52.71 for the Sharks. She earned All-NEISDA in all seven of her events for the third straight year and finished her tenure by earning that status in 26 events over four meets. Walz finished fourth in the 100-free with a time of 54.50 as one of six events that she earned All-NEISDA status in for the meet. Howard also scored finals points in the event, placing eighth with a mark of 55.46. First year Kiera Bragdon (Haddam, Conn.) touched the wall at 56.68 to place 13th overall.
Simmons saw three swimmers place in the top-eight of the 200-yard breaststroke as well, led by first year Meg Driscoll's (Haverhill, Mass.) second-place showing with a time of 2:27.76 to make her All-NEISDA in three events and the recipient of her second silver medal of the weekend. Walz finished fifth in the event with a time of 2:33.39, before first year Katelyn Quinlan (Haverhill, Mass.) turned in a time of 2:37.62 to finish eighth and achieve All-NEISDA status. Junior Annie Lam (Natick, Mass.) scored in the consolation final of the event, placing 14th overall with a time of 2:40.89.
First year Eva Piernas (Hopkinton, N.H.) and senior Haley McCurdy (Framingham, Mass.) joined Scholand as All-NEISDA performers in the 1650-free for the Sharks. Piernas placed fourth with a time of 18:58.92 for her highest finish of the meet and her third top-eight effort in distance events, while McCurdy finished eighth with a mark of 19:12.48.
Junior Anna Leedham (Lowell, Mass.) earned a bronze medal in the 200-yard butterfly after placing third with a time of 2:15.98 for Simmons to make her a three-time All-NEISDA performer for the meet. First year Sophie Stevenson (Orefield, Pa.) also scored in the event, placing 15th overall with a time of 2:37.30. First year Emma Yanovitch (Natick, Mass.) capped the individual events for the Sharks, placing 15th overall in the 100-yard individual medley with a time of 1:08.23.
The Sharks will look to compete at the NCAA Championship for the third straight year, pending an invitation for any of their competitors to advance to Greensboro, N.C. on March 18.