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Moss Lake, N.C. - The Gardner-Webb men's and women's swim teams braved the cold water of Moss Lake Saturday and recorded an impressive showing at the 2011 Western Carolina Open Water Challenge.

The Open Water Challenge consisted of a series of races ranging from 5,000 meters in distance to 500 and categories for both age group and collegiate swimmers. In its second consecutive year competing in the Challenge, GWU swimmers swam both the 5K and 2K races.

In the collegiate men's 5K race, Gardner-Webb sophomore Sam Wilson took home the victory, recording a time of 54 minutes and 29 seconds. GWU senior Sam Woods took third with a time of 56:30 followed by the fourth place effort of junior DJ Hughes (57.04). Sophomore Cody Meyers placed fifth in 57:15 followed by classmate Phillip Leonard, who recorded an eighth place finish with a time of 59:58. Junior Tyler Nuss came in ninth with a time of 1:00.15, and senior Collin Burchins rounded out the top 10, finishing hard to record a time of 1:00.38.

GWU picked up another victory in the collegiate women's 5K, as junior Liz Van Halsema came in first with a time of 57:15. Sophomore Faith Kempf took second in 1:00.25, followed closely by freshman Kaylee McCallan's third place finish (1:00.28). Sophomore Kristina Grayson finished fourth, recording a time of 1:00.46 for the Runnin' Bulldogs while junior Michelle Palacio took fifth in 1:01.52. Palacio was followed closely by sophomore Emily Black, whose time of 1:01.59 was good enough for sixth. Freshman Jenna Ballinger took eighth, finishing in 1:02.03 for GWU.

In the collegiate men's 2K race, Wilson recorded his second win of the day, finishing in 21:13 for the first place showing. Hughes came in second at 21:36, followed by junior Mitch Turner in third, recording a time of 21:42. Nuss placed fourth (21:45), just ahead of Meyers, who came in fifth (21:45). Woods finished in sixth place (21:20), and sophomore Jordan Denmark came in seventh with a time of 22:25. Sophomore Taft Kallam recorded an eighth place finish (22:57) followed by sophomore Will Payne's ninth place showing (23:12). Sophomore Cole Hickey finished in 23:18 to round out the top 10.

Van Halsema gave Gardner-Webb its fourth victory of the day in the collegiate women's 2K, placing first with a time of 22:09. Ballinger followed with a second place finish at 22:44 just ahead of senior Hillary Leonard, who came in third with a time of 22:44. McCallan took fourth with a time of 23:03, followed by Kempf's sixth place showing (23:15). Palacio came in seventh at 23:38 and junior Kristen Michal finished eighth in a time of 23:55. Sophomore Samantha Shelley was ninth (24:14), and Black finished alongside freshman Charity Byrum (24:30) to round out the top 10.

Gardner-Webb will open its fall dual meet schedule in October. GWU's first meet will take place against the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmingon on October 15 in Wilmington, N.C.


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