Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
Feb. 28, 2019
Following last year’s victory in the Atlantic 10 Championships, the Duquesne women’s swimming & diving team returned to the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, to defend its title. Despite some stiff competition, the Dukes are now Atlantic 10 champions for the second season in a row.
The George Washington Colonials proved to be a tough contender, closely trailing Duquesne ahead of the final day of competition. However, the reigning champions came up big in the final events.
The Dukes were propelled by 11 medal-winning performances. Three of those medals came on the last day of competition, making for some clutch timing.
Abigail Stauffer was golden in the 200-yard breaststroke, grabbing first and setting a school record of 2:13.57.
Emma Brinton grabbed second-place in the 200-yard backstroke. Her finishing time of 1:57.67 is a school record for the event.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Morgan Smith came in third (2:01.82).
Complementing these crucial performances were a variety of other top-three results earlier in the week, many of which were record-breaking.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team of Brinton, Hanna Everhart, Lauren Devorace and Carson Gross posted a school-record time of 7:18.71 en route to a gold medal. The 200-yard medley relay team of Stauffer, Audrey Steen, Kristen McKnight and Emily Thirion came in third (1:41.39).
Brinton and Stauffer finished first and third, respectively, in the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.90; 2:01.07). Brinton’s time broke the school record she set last year. Lauren Devorace captured bronze in the 500-yard freestyle relay (4:51.77).
On day three, three university records fell. Brinton finished first in the 400-yard individual medley (4:13.68), also breaking the A-10 Championship and pool records. Steen finished second in the 100-yard backstroke (54.64). Brinton, Stauffer, Steen and Everhart won the 400-yard individual medley relay (3:41.74).
Duquesne also earned its first diving points since 1998. Following a two-decade hiatus for the program, Adrienne White and Sawyer Weitzel provided necessary contributions.
Steen, a freshman from San Pedro, California, became the second-consecutive Duke to earn Most Outstanding Rookie honors. Her big week included a first-place finish in the 400-yard medley relay.
Brinton, who took home that distinction last year, grabbed five total medals, nearly half her team’s amount.
Head Coach Dave Sheets was named A-10 Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. It is his third such award in his seventeen years coaching Duquesne.
It was an impressive overall performance by the defending champions. After breaking the school scoring record in last year’s title with 567 points, the Dukes did it again, this time posting a total of 580.5 points.
After Richmond dominated the A-10 for nearly twenty years, winning fifteen championships since the turn of the century, Duquesne has begun to put together a streak of its own.