Dukes Crowned Back-to-Back CAA Champions

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CHRISTIANBURG, Va. (JMU Athletics) -- Winning back-to-back titles, James Madison swimming & diving have been crowned the 2019 Colonial Athletic Association Champions. This is the program’s ninth overall title and the first time JMU has won consecutive championships since 1995.

The Dukes began the night on top as sophomore Julianna Jones earned a gold medal in the 1650 freestyle, touching the wall at 16:18.65 for a NCAA B cut time while breaking the school record (16:38.24) set by Emily Konieczny on February 28, 2009. Senior Madison Oster secured a third-place finish with a career-best time of 16:52.38.

Junior Bonnie Zhang captured another first-place finish in the 100 freestyle, clocking in a NCAA B cut time of 48.50 while breaking the school record of 49.54 set by Eva Hannesdottir on February 23, 2012. Zhang’s top finish is the first time a JMU swimmer has won since 2012.

Freshman Morgan Whaley earned her second medal of the meet, placing third in the 200 butterfly with a personal-best time of 2:01.89.

JMU trailed William & Mary by 11 points heading into the 1-meter diving event, but four of the Dukes’ five divers made it into the A-final. JMU swept the podium as junior Hope Byrum won first with a NCAA Zone qualifying score of 281.34, followed by sophomores Emily Gross (268.30) and Samantha Ullman (262.30).

Senior Jillian Breeger, junior Sydney Kirsch, Zhang and junior MacKenzie Gring capitalized the Dukes’ victory as the group won the 400 freestyle relay with a season-best time of 3:20.78.


For the second straight year, Hope Byrum was named the Most Outstanding Female Diver of the Meet. This is the eighth time a JMU diver has won the award.
Bonnie Zhang was named the Most Outstanding Female Swimmer of the Meet
For the third time in his career, Dane Pedersen was honored as the CAA Coach of the Year.
John Wolsh was named the CAA Diving Coach of the Year for a third consecutive year and the eighth time in nine years a JMU coach has won the award.


1650 Freestyle

5th Lauren Soleo – 16.56.44

7th Bailey Butler – 17:05.31

200 Backstroke

11th Morgan Whaley – 2:02.49

12th MacKenzie Gring – 2:03.05

13th Paige Assaid – 2:03.21

100 Freestyle

6th Jillian Breeger – 50.78

8th Sydney Kirsch – 51.33

9th MacKenzie Gring – 51.00

16th Anna Ober – 51.78

200 Breaststroke

7th Megan Marsh – 2:19.61

12th Hannah Lagod – 2:20.48

200 Butterfly

11th Kristie Darmody 2:03.84

15th Hannah Lagod 2:05.09

1-Meter Diving

5th Faith Anderson – 257.25

10th Sarah Stim – 248.85


1. James Madison – 726

2. William & Mary – 657

3. Towson – 555.5

4. Drexel – 393.5

5. UNCW – 389.5

6. Northeastern – 356.5

7. Delaware – 293


“I’m elated and really happy for the girls, because they worked really hard for this and I’m glad they could experience it. I’m really happy for our program and to bring home a championship for JMU means a lot. On a lot of different levels, it means a lot. It’s an honor to go back-to-back, but each year is special in its own way and this year was certainly special.”


Divers who received qualifying scores will compete in the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships in Annapolis, Md. on March 11-12. Qualified swimmers will compete in the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Invitational held in Cleveland, Ohio on March 14-16.