Courtney Hayward during the 2015 NAIA Nationals meet in Oklahoma CIty where she took first in the 1650 freestyle.
Courtney Hayward, shown above in her All-America performance at last year's national championship meet, continued her winning ways to lead the Golden Tigers to a consecutive conference championship.

‘RE-peat’: Golden Tigers Swimmers Win 2nd Conference Title

Feb 15, 2016
Brenau Staff

The No. 2 nationally ranked Brenau University Golden Tigers swim team overwhelmed second-place contender Wheeling Jesuit to capture the university’s second straight Appalachian Swimming Conference championship in Christianburg, Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 13.

The next stop for the Brenau team is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics U.S. championship meet in Columbus, Georgia, March 2-6. The Tigers finished that tournament last year in Oklahoma City ranked No. 3 in the nation, the highest finish in school history.

With the NAIA scheduled to post the regular season’s final national poll on Feb. 24, No. 2 Brenau could gain some ground on No. 1 Savannah College of Art & Design, which finished only 12 votes ahead of the Golden Tigers in the in the last national coach poll in January. SCAD placed fifth in its Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championship meet Feb 10.

A preseason favorite to repeat as conference champs, the Tigers scored the back-to-back title win with 560 points by placing first in seven individual and five relay events and beating Wheeling Jesuit by 93 points – 28 points better than the 2015 ACS championship margin over the Cardinals.

After keeping the lead over the first two days, the Golden Tigers started the final day of competition with first- and fourth-place finishes in the 1650 freestyle. Townsville, Australia, junior Courtney Hayward, who won the 400 individual medley as well as the 500 freestyle, earned her third individual championship by winning the 1650 freestyle by a staggering 27 seconds in 17:14.94. Sophomore Ella Kleinschmidt from Hervey Bay, Australia, picked up the fourth-place finish in 18:11.

Freshman Lindsay Dowling from Winston, Georgia, paired her 100 backstroke title with her second individual title of the meet, winning the 200 backstroke in 2:05.53.

Senior Mary Katherine Jabbia from Slidell, Louisiana, and sophomore Sarah Frey from Snellville, Georgia, added to the scoring with a second-place and seventh-place finishes in the 200 breaststroke.

In the final race of the championships, the 400 freestyle relay team of freshman Alisha Hodgetts of St. John’s, Florida, sophomore Madison Kosater of Macon, Georgia, Kleinschmidt and Hayward collected another Golden Tigers victory.

In total, the Golden Tigers completed 23 top-eight finishes in the “A” cuts, as well as 12 total first-place wins.

“It was an exciting weekend for Brenau,” said first-year Head Coach Nate Rhoads. “The ladies started off hot on Thursday night, winning the first relay, and they held on to that lead the entire meet. It was a great team effort, and I am so proud of this group. They’ve come together as a team. They worked hard for each other every day. They have accomplished their goal of winning conference.”