Hope diver Sarah Sheridan

The Hope College women’s swimming & diving team made a late decision to switch Molly Meyer’s spot in the 400-yard medley relay, and it paid off in a big way.

The sophomore from South Bend, Indiana (John Adams), set Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and school records in the 100 backstroke while leading the 400 medley relay to a first-place time of 3 minutes, 51.80 seconds.

The relay finish helped the Flying Dutch take the lead in the six-team meet with 262 points. Hope leads second-place Kalamazoo by eight points and third-place Calvin by nine.

The MIAA Championships resume at Holland Community Aquatic Center on Friday at 10 a.m. with preliminaries.

“We were trying to get a big lead,” Hope coach John Patnott said of the strategy for the 400 medley relay, Thursday’s final event. “We were thinking if we could get the lead, we could hold it. Molly is our best flier and best backstroker. Our freshman, Chloe Palajac, did a great job in Molly’s place. That gave us a big lead. They had to chase us.”

Meyer’s lead off split of 56.50 seconds surpassed the old MIAA mark of 57.36 belonging to Albion’s Anna Hargrove in 2014.

It also eclipsed the old school record of 56.67 belonging to Susan Looman from 1994.

“I wanted to get that record off for several years. It’s just too old,” Patnott said. “Records are nice. They deserve to be broken sometimes.”

Meyer, junior Jorgie Watson of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Catholic Central HS), Palajac of Dearborn, Michigan (Dearborn HS), and junior Klare Northuis of Holland, Michigan (Holland HS), completed the 400 medley relay. 

Hope also won in 3-meter diving as junior Sarah Sheridan repeated as MIAA champion with a score of 539.80 points. Senior Erica Dunham of Rockford, Michigan (Rockford HS), placed third with 443.35 points while junior Stephanie Polet of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville HS), was eighth with 377.45 points.

The Flying Dutch finished second, third and eighth in the 500 freestyle.

Junior Lindsay Wiederhold of Plainwell, Michigan (Plainwell HS) placed runner-up with a time of 5:05.90. Palajac came in third at 5:10.97, while junior Virginia Cotterall of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS), was eighth in 5:23.07.

In the consolation final, junior Kaleigh Mullen of Rochester, Michigan (Pontiac Notre Dame Prep), took 10th at 5:21.32. Burgess was 13th at 5:23.20.

Hope’s 200 freestyle relay finished fourth. Senior Emily Weber of Milan, Michigan (Milan HS), freshman Amy Larsen of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Forest Hills Northern HS), sophomore Mikayla Freyling of Alto, Michigan (Grand Rapids South Christian HS), and Northuis posted a time of 1:37.73.

Watson placed fifth in the 200 individual medley final. She had a time of 2:10.48.

In the consolation final, freshman Natalie Vela of Clarkston, Michigan (Clarkston HS), won the race and placed ninth overall at 2:15.27. Junior Hannah Larson of Jackson, Michigan (Jackson HS), came in 10th at 2:15.30, while junior Michelle Hance of Noblesville, Indiana (Noblesville HS), was 14th in 2:17.83.

Northuis finished fifth in the 50-yard freestyle final at 24.58.

In the consolation final, Weber took 11th at 24.98, while Larson was 14th at 25.21.