GREENSBORO, N.C. — York College senior swimmer Kyle Walthall has become the Spartans' first swimming national champion.
He won the 100 breaststroke championship Friday night at the 2016 NCAA Division III National Swimming Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Walthall edged Michael Lagieski from Washington University (Missouri) by .03 seconds in the final as Walthall touched the wall in a school record and conference record time of 53.67 seconds. That time was .10 seconds faster than the previous record time that he swam in the morning. Lagieski was the top overall seed heading into the championships but had to settle for the runner up. James Shangle, who had edged Walthall earlier in the year at the TCNJ Invitational in December, placed third with a time of 54.41.
Walthall trailed at the final turn but a powerful push over the final 25 yards enabled the senior Spartan to capture the national championship.
The national championship is the third individual title in York College history. Current head wrestling coach Duane Bastress won the Spartans' previous two national titles as he was the Division III Wrestling 184-pound national champion in 2005 and again in 2006. Bastress was a perfect 40-0 during the 2005-06 season.
Head coach Greg Doyle was thrilled to see his senior standout earn the 100 breaststroke national championship.
"I have had a great time working with Kyle since I have arrived in York," said Doyle, the first year Spartan head coach. "I knew he had a special gift and he has worked extremely hard to put himself in position to be a champion. He is the best breaststroker in Division III and this accomplishment is something I will remember the rest of my coaching career."
Walthall knew he was in for a tough race and he wasn't disappointed.
"It was a tough race," said Walthall. "I knew that Lagieski was going to be gunning for a championship and he is an incredible competitor. I was able to dig deep on that last lap and push through for the win. It's a great honor to represent York College at the championships and I am glad I was able to achieve my goal. It was a tough year full of transition but with the help of my teammates and coaches, I was able to push through and persevere."
Doyle is excited to see what Walthall can do tomorrow in the 200 breaststroke.
"Our jobs aren't done yet. We will go for another one tomorrow and Kyle will finish out his college career in great fashion. I am one very happy and very proud coach."
Walthall will compete in the 200 breaststroke on Saturday. He enters the competition with the second fastest time in Division III this year. Last year he finished eighth in the event.
Walthall will enter his final event at the championships as a five-time All-American. The Saturday preliminaries are scheduled for a 10:00 am start.