College Sports

Queens insider: Royals are national champs twice over

Event winners and captains from Queens University of Charlotte’s men’s and women’s swimming teams, which won titles at the NCAA Division II national championships: front row, from left, Alexandra Marshall, Madeleine Wallmon (women’s captain), Evante Gibson (men’s captain), Hannah Peiffer and McKenzie Stevens; middle row, from left, Niclas Eriksson (men’s captain), Matthew Josa, coach Jeff Dugdale, Patricia Castro-Ortega, Caroline Arakelian (women’s captain), and Lillian Gordy (women’s captain); back row, from left Hayden Kosater, Ben Taylor (men’s captain), John Suther and Nicholas Arakelian.
Event winners and captains from Queens University of Charlotte’s men’s and women’s swimming teams, which won titles at the NCAA Division II national championships: front row, from left, Alexandra Marshall, Madeleine Wallmon (women’s captain), Evante Gibson (men’s captain), Hannah Peiffer and McKenzie Stevens; middle row, from left, Niclas Eriksson (men’s captain), Matthew Josa, coach Jeff Dugdale, Patricia Castro-Ortega, Caroline Arakelian (women’s captain), and Lillian Gordy (women’s captain); back row, from left Hayden Kosater, Ben Taylor (men’s captain), John Suther and Nicholas Arakelian. BILL KISER

Even before the 2014-2015 season began for the Queens University of Charlotte men’s and women’s swimming program, coach Jeff Dugdale thought the Royals had the pieces to make a run at a national title.

Dugdale turned out to be right twice.

Queens swept not only the men’s and women’s team titles at the NCAA Division II national championships March 11-14 in Indianapolis but the top individual honors as well.

It was the first national title – in any sport – for the Royals athletic program, which began in 1988 after the former women’s college became a fully co-educational institution the year before.

“I always thought two was possible,” said Dugdale, Queens’ coach since the swim program began in 2010. “The men, on paper, were good, but it would be a much bigger battle because of depth.

“But our women, they were good and deep this year.”

In sweeping the titles, the Royals unseated longtime Division II champions Drury University.

Drury, in Springfield, Mo., had won 10 consecutive men’s championships and six of the last eight women’s titles.

Queens won 17 events – 10 by the men, seven by the women – more than double the number of individual and relay titles the Royals won at the 2014 Division II nationals (eight total: five men’s and three women’s).

“It’s starting to sink in a little bit,” sophomore Matthew Josa said. “All year, we knew we had a really good chance. It all depended on how things lined up during the meet. Everyone was very excited the whole meet, and that attitude was why we won.

“That’s why this is so great. It’s been such a journey.”

Josa earned the Division II nationals men’s outstanding swimmer award by winning four individual titles and a pair of relay titles, setting NCAA records in five of those events.

Josa won the men’s 200-yard individual medley, 100- and 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke. He also swam a leg on the men’s 400-yard medley relay team with John Suther, Niclas Eriksson and Benjamin Taylor; and on the 800-yard freestyle relay team with Taylor, Nicholas Arakelian and Hayden Kosater.

Arakelian also won four individual titles: the men’s 500-, 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyles and the 400-yard individual medley.

On the women’s side, redshirt freshman Patricia Castro-Ortega was named the meet’s outstanding swimmer after she also won four individual titles and swam on two winning relay teams, setting NCAA records in all six events.

Castro-Ortega, a native of Madrid, Spain, won the women’s 200-yard individual medley, and the 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle events. She also swam on the Royals’ 800 freestyle relay team with Lillian Gordy, McKenzie Stevens and Caroline Arakelian; and on the 400-yard freestyle relay team with Gordy, Arakelian and Alexandra Marshall.

Sophomore Hannah Peiffer also won her second NCAA title, taking the 200 butterfly. She won the 100 butterfly last year.

“Last year I couldn’t race, but I knew they were ready,” Castro-Ortega said. “I knew they would prefer to win. In September, we knew we could win this year, but we were going to have to work really hard. We were really focused on that.”

Squire, Vahrenkamp earn regional honors

Queens’ indoor track athlete Nikia Squire and coach Jim Vahrenkamp were among those honored with regional awards by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Squire, a junior, was named the USTFCCCA’s Southeast Region’s women’s track athlete of the year, while Vahrenkamp was named the region’s women’s coach of the year.

Squire qualified for the NCAA Division II indoor championships in three events: the 60- and 200-meter dashes and the long jump. She earned All-American honors in two events, finishing fifth in the long jump and sixth in the 60-meter dash.

Vahrenkamp, in his second year as Queens’ director of track and cross-country, led the Royals’ women’s indoor team to a No. 1 ranking in the Southeast Region and 30th among Division II teams nationwide.

19 Royals on USTFCCCA all-region team

Queens’s indoor track teams had 19 athletes – nine men, 10 women – named to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s All-Southeast Region team.

Junior sprinter/long-jumper Squire and sophomore distance runner Jimmy Hollingsworth led the Royals by earning all-region honors in four events each.

Squire was named all-region in the 60- and 200-meter dash, the long jump and triple jump. Hollingsworth was named in the 800-meter and 1-mile runs, and the 4x400-meter and distance medley relays.

Other Queens women named all-region were Asia Hart (400-meter dash and 4x400 relay), Kim Thiede (pole vault and 4x400 relay), Dacia Thompson (shot put and weight throw), Catie Byrd (3,000-meter run), Lydia Drakeford (4x400 relay), Taylor Reynolds (pentathlon), Mystique Ro (pentathlon), Alison Seramur (pole vault) and Miranda Wood (4x400 relay).

Other Royals men named all-region were Yannick Stubbe (1-mile run, 4x400 relay and distance medley relay), Zach Lewis (400 dash, 4x400 relay and distance medley relay), Florian Bergs (pole vault and heptathlon), Victor Moreau (800 run and distance medley relay), Henno Havenga (3,000 run), Quinn Ryder (4x400 relay), Jovan Vukicevic (high jump), and Kyle Wolfe (heptathlon).

Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at bkisercltobs@gmail.com.

Upcoming events

April 1

▪ Softball: vs. Catawba, Park Road Park, 1:30 p.m. (doubleheader).

April 3

▪ Softball: vs. Mars Hill, Park Road Park, 1 p.m. (doubleheader).

April 4

▪ Men’s track and field: at Terrier Relays, Greenville, S.C.

▪ Women’s track and field: at Terrier Relays, Greenville, S.C.

▪ Men’s tennis: at Tusculum, Greenville, Tenn., 2 p.m.

▪ Women’s tennis: at Tusculum, Greenville, Tenn., 2 p.m.

▪ Men’s lacrosse: vs. Wingate, Queens Sports Complex, 2:30 p.m.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: vs. Wingate, Queens Sports Complex, 5:30 p.m.

April 6

▪ Softball: at Lander, Greenwood, S.C., 3 p.m. (doubleheader).

April 7

▪ Women’s tennis: at Lincoln Memorial, Harrogate, Tenn., 1 p.m.

▪ Men’s tennis: at Lincoln Memorial, Harrogate, Tenn., 1 p.m.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at Newberry, Newberry, S.C., 6 p.m.

April 8

▪ Softball: at Newberry, Newberry, S.C., 1 p.m. (doubleheader).

April 9

▪ Men’s tennis: vs. Catawba, Freedom Park, 1 p.m.

▪ Women’s tennis: vs. Catawba, Freedom Park, 1 p.m.

▪ Men’s lacrosse: at Belmont Abbey, Belmont, 3:30 p.m.

April 11

▪ Men’s track and field: at Johnson C. Smith Invitational, Irwin Belk Complex.

▪ Women’s track and field: at Johnson C. Smith Invitational, Irwin Belk Complex.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at Tusculum, Greenville, Tenn., 12 p.m.

▪ Softball: vs. Anderson, Park Road Park, 1 p.m. (doubleheader).

▪ Men’s lacrosse: at Tusculum, Greenville, Tenn., 3 p.m.

April 12

▪ Women’s golf: at SAC championships, Sevierville, Tenn.

▪ Women’s tennis: vs. Lenoir-Rhyne, Freedom Park, 1 p.m.

▪ Men’s tennis: vs. Lenoir-Rhyne, Freedom Park, 1 p.m.

April 13

▪ Women’s golf: at SAC championships, Sevierville, Tenn.

▪ Men’s lacrosse: at SAC tournament quarterfinals, opponent and location TBD.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: vs. Lindenwood, Queens Sports Complex, 7 p.m.

April 14

▪ Women’s golf: at SAC championships, Sevierville, Tenn.

▪ Women’s lacrosse: at SAC tournament quarterfinals, opponent and location TBD.

▪ Softball: at Lenoir-Rhyne, Hickory, 3 p.m. (doubleheader).

Source: www.queensathletics.com.

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