FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Darton State took second place in the men’s NJCAA swimming and diving national championships in Fort Pierce, Fla., Saturday, and the Lady Cavaliers finished fourth. Both teams took first place in the non-scholarship divisions.
It was a phenomenal finish to a long, difficult season, but both the men’s and women’s programs ended where Darton head swimming coach Will Breehl hoped they’d be.
The program was determined to break school records, finish second (hosts Indian River has won first place every year for over 30 years) at nationals and finish first among non-scholarship schools.
“We were successful in meeting the goals we set at the beginning of the year,” Breehl said.
His teams left Florida with 12 individual All Americans, four gold medals, two silver medals, five bronze medals and three massive trophies to add to an already crowded Darton athletics trophy case.
Diver Crawford Berry became the 2014 Diver of the Year after sweeping the 1-meter and 3-meter events for the second year in a row. No other Darton athlete has won four national championship titles.
“He was in another league,” Darton head diving coach Ed Goodman said of Berry. “You have to do 11 dives – after his eighth dive he could have quit and still won the 3-meter, he lead by so much.”
“I’m going to miss him next year,” added Goodman, who became the 2014 NJCAA Diving Coach of the Year in his first season with the Cavaliers.
Sarah Hoop, who won a bronze medal in the 3-meter diving final and doubles as a swimmer for Darton, became the non-scholarship female athlete of the year.
Gabe Downey became the men’s non-scholarship athlete of the year after winning a bronze medal in the 200 backstroke and had a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.
All of the Darton relay teams earned All-America honors, with the best finishes coming from the women’s silver medal in the 200 free relay and the men’s silver in the 200 medley.
Four Lady Cavs became individual All Americans: Sarah Hoop, Kelsey Carniglia, Ashley Delgado and Sandra Guerrero.
Eight Cavaliers took individual All-America honors: Johnny Els, Matt Martin, Matt White, Adrian Blair, Stone Peterson, Berry, Downey and JD Rosseau.
Rosseau set new school records in the mile and 400 IM as well. Breehl complimented Rosseau’s training efforts, and said he’s been staying at it since the 2013 national championship.
“He earned it,” Breehl said. “He dropped two minutes from his mile time. That’s pretty significant.”