CLEARWATER, FLA. – Haley DeGrace set a school record in the 200-breaststroke to give Florida Southern its second gold medal of the meet before the top 400-freestyle relay team added a bronze to secure an overall third-place finish for the Moccasins at the 2019 Sunshine State Conference Women's Swimming Championships.
DeGrace worked her way up the ladder in the 200-breast over the course of her career, finishing fourth at the SSC Championships as a freshman in 2016 before earning a bronze medal as a sophomore. She ended up second with a silver medal last year and added the gold medal to her collection this year. DeGrace was the second Moccasin to win an individual event at this year's SSC Championships, joining 200-freestyle champion Katie Moore.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The final day of the championships began with a sixth-place finish from Moore in the 1650-freestyle, a race she swam in a career-best 17:15.62. That easily surpassed the NCAA "B" standard and moved her into the top-three all-time at Florida Southern in her fourth different freestyle event (200, 500, 1000, and 1650). Nova Southeastern's Emma Sundstedt won her third gold medal of the meet by swimming the 1650 in a meet-record 16:37.53, missing an NCAA automatic time by 0.21 seconds, but winning the gold medal by more than 23 seconds.
- Krystal Karas took first place in the consolation final of 100-freestyle with an NCAA "B" time of 51.65 seconds, while Mallary Meyer and Rebeka Dics just missed that mark, placing 14th and 16th overall. Dics, however, did hit the NCAA "B" time of 52.11 during the morning prelims. Tampa had the top three swimmers in the 100-free, led by Hana Van Loock in 49.83 seconds.
- The Moccasins nearly got their first medal of the night in the 200-backstroke where Kyra Fraser finished fourth in 2:03.33, just two-tenths of a second behind Tampa bronze medalist Erin Hixenbaugh. Fraser's time was still enough for the NCAA "B" standard, though she had already hit that earlier in the season. Tampa's Courtney Sherwood was the 200-backstroke champion in 1:58.82.
- DeGrace gave Florida Southern a win in the final individual event of the meet by touching the wall just 0.08 seconds ahead of Lynn's Sarah Hughes in the 200-breast, and 0.35 seconds in front of Tampa's Mckenzie Street, who had earlier won the 100-breast. That made DeGrace the first Florida Southern women's swimmer to ever win a gold medal in a breaststroke event at the SSC Championships. DeGrace's time of 2:15.80 broke her own school record, which she had set during last year's conference finals, by 0.12 seconds.
- Florida Southern wrapped up Sunday night by taking third in the 400-freestyle relay, its second bronze medal relay finish of the meet. The quartet of Karas, Moore, Dics, and Meyer put together a season-best time of 3:27.64. Tampa won the race in 3:22.84.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Tampa won the 2019 championship after outscoring Nova Southeastern by 37 points, 976-939. It ended a two-year reign by the Sharks as the SSC women's swimming champion and gave the Spartans their first title since 2014. Florida Southern was third with 391 points, followed by Lynn (369), Saint Leo (335), Rollins (310), and Florida Tech (280).
- Sundstedt was the SSC Women's Swimmer-of-the-Meet after scoring 77 points and winning three gold medals and one silver. She was just four points ahead of her teammate, Sasha Maslova, who also won three individual events but was sixth in the 200-breaststroke on Sunday.
- Moore was Florida Southern's top scorer in the meet with 67 points after picking up one gold medal and two silvers. Karas scored 34 points to rank second on the team, and DeGrace was third with 33.
Florida Southern will now await word on its selections for the NCAA Division II National Championships, which will be announced this Wednesday night, February 27.