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Simmons Wins NEISDA Championship for Second Straight Year


Courtesy of Simmons Athletics Communications

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Simmons University women's swimming & diving team captured the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Women's Championship for the second straight year, capping the meet's final day with three event victories this evening at the Al '51 and Barrie Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center Pool on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. 

The Sharks scored 1410.5 points to repeat as champions, while Roger Williams University finished as the runner-up for the second straight year with 1257 points over the four-day meet. Brandeis University placed third with 1115.5 points. 

Simmons won six individual events and three relay races during the meet and saw 14 competitors combine to achieve All-NEISDA status 49 times by virtue of a top-eight individual or top-four finish in a relay. The Sharks also combined to win 30 medals, including 18 golds and broke a school and meet record during the weekend. 

Junior Aine Scholand (Albuquerque, N.M.) cruised to victory in the 1650-yard freestyle with a mark of 16:58.51 to win the event by almost a minute and qualify for a spot in the NCAA Championship. The win gave her a team-high three individual golds to go with three gold medallions in relay competition. Scholand's wins in the 1650, 1000 and 500-yard freestyle events make her the only swimmer in school history to win all three of her individual events twice after achieving the same feat last year. Senior Laura Simpson (Perkiomenville, Pa.) capped her career by placing second in the 1650 with a mark of 17:57.54 and was later named the recipient of the Kay Fromer Award, given to the senior, who has accumulated the most points during their career at the championship meet. She finished the weekend by earning All-NEISDA status four times and also contributed to a relay gold. Junior Haley McCurdy (Framingham, Mass.) finished sixth in the race with a time of 19:05.97 to gain All-Meet status. 

Senior Jason Erichsen's (Banks, Ore.) career was capped with the swimmer's first career gold medal in the 200-yard breaststroke on a first-place time of 2:26.47 and earned All-NEISDA recognition in four events for the Sharks. 

Senior Kerry Fleming (Northampton, Mass.) earned her team-high seventh medal of the meet when she led a formidable Simmons contingent in the 100-yard freestyle with a second place finish following a time of 53.07. She added the silver to five gold medals for the meet. Junior Laura List (Bedford, Mass.) and sophomore Maria Soraghan (East Hampstead, N.H.) were right behind Fleming in third and fourth place, respectively. List turned in a time of 53.71, while Soraghan touched the wall at 54.07. The silver medal was the fifth of the meet for List and contributed to earning All-NEISDA in all seven events that she competed in. Soraghan earned All-Meet status in six events and joined Fleming, Scholand and Simpson to break the NEISDA Championship and Open record as well as the school mark in the 800-yard freestyle relay on the meet's first day of competition. 

The Sharks capped the night by winning the 400-yard freestyle by more than four seconds with a time of 3:33.40 behind Soraghan, List, Scholand and Fleming to give Simmons a sweep of all three freestyle relay events during the meet. 

The Sharks received a pair of top-eight efforts in the 200-yard butterfly with first year Anna Leedham (Lowell, Mass.) placing fourth with a time of 2:19.30 and senior Kara Smith (Eastham, Mass.) finishing sixth at 2:19.30. Leedham finished the meet by earning All-NEISDA in four events, including a bronze relay medal. 

Simmons sophomore Elizabeth Bartlett (Richmond, Mass.) turned in her second top-eight outing of the meet after finishing seventh in the 100-yard individual medley on a time of 1:04.61. 

The Sharks came into the final day of competition leading by just over one hundred points and added to their lead following the afternoon's three-meter diving event. Simmons was the only school to have three divers place among the top seven with sophomore Sara Manjikian (Belmont, Mass.) scoring 329.85 points to place third for the bronze medal, while junior Cristina Samaniego (Avon, Conn.) placed fifth with a tally of 283.60 points to earn both competitors All-NEISDA accolades on both the one and three-meter boards. First year Natalie Krieg (Cambridge, Mass.) placed seventh with a score of 274.80 points. 

Sophomore Olivia Walz (Natick, Mass.) also earned All-NEISDA status during the meet and added to her contribution by finishing third in the consolation final of the 200-yard breaststroke and 11th overall with a mark of 2:34.05 for the Sharks. 

Simmons' season will come to an end following Scholand's appearance at the NCAA Championship beginning on March 20 in Greensboro, N.C.