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Student-athletes shine at 2019 World University Games

Sophomore Daria Lenz (above) returned from the 2019 World University Games as Stanford's most decorated athlete. The young diver secured two bronze medals which proved to be America's only medals across all the diving events. (HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA/isiphotos.com)

After two weeks of competition between some of the best college athletes in the world, the 2019 World University Games drew to a close last Sunday. Stanford sent 21 athletes to Naples, Italy, where they represented eight athletics programs and four different countries.

There were a total of five individual medal winners across three sports. Cardinal athletes were also a part of two medal-winning teams.

Senior Emily Arbuthnott claimed the silver medal for Great Britain in women’s tennis singles. After cruising through the quarterfinals (6-0, 6-2) and the semifinals (6-1, 6-3), Arbuthnott was finally stopped, losing 6-4, 6-4, in the gold-medal match.

Ella Eastin ‘19 secured second overall in the 200-meter IM with a time of 2:09.63, marking her final appearance as a swimmer under the cardinal banner. Normally one to max out her number of events, Eastin swam just in the 200 IM this time, as she will be swimming at the 2019 Aquatic World Championships starting this week.

On the men’s side, sophomore Daniel Roy earned a third-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke. The breaststroke specialist stopped the clock at 2:09.63. Like Eastin, Roy is a member of Team USA and will head to Korea for the World Championships.

Sophomore divers Daria Lenz and Carolina Sculti made school and country proud by claiming America’s only diving medals. Lenz secured bronze on the 1-meter springboard with a score of 244.25. The duo flaunted their synergy accrued over just a single year diving together by coming in third in the 3-meter synchronized diving. Lenz additionally placed fifth in the mixed team event, diving with Jacob Siler from the Ohio State University.

Additionally, sophomore diver Conor Casey made the finals on the men’s 1-meter springboard, finishing eighth, and senior long distance specialist Megan Byrnes took seventh in the 800-meter freestyle (8:45.06) and eighth in the 1,500-meter free (16:44.81).

Out of the water and onto the field, Mackenzie Little ‘19 achieved the final individual top-eight performance for a Cardinal athlete. The back-to-back NCAA javelin champ secured eighth for Australia with a best distance of 55.37 meters.

Also representing Australia, junior Isaac White took the court with the rest of the country’s men’s basketball team. The Australian’s took third overall, defeating Israel 86-69 in the bronze-medal match. White averaged 6.8 points and two rebounds over six games. He had a high of 15 points in a 105-62 rout of Mexico.

As White did for Australian basketball, five men’s water polo players helped the US win a silver medal. The team’s volatile offense was powered by the Stanford contingent, especially junior Tyler Abramson. Abramson’s 20 goals during the tournament led the team and was good for sixth most by any player. Senior Bennett Williams added 13 more scores, and sophomore Quinn Woodhead followed right behind with 11. Sophomore AJ Rossman rattled the cage six times to make it four of the top seven american scorers from the Farm.

The only Cardinal on the women’s side, freshman Floranne Carroll contributed three goals as her native Canada took fourth place in their tournament.

Rounding out the team competition, a combined five indoor volleyball players were sent from both programs to play internationally in Italy. The women’s team finished in the middle of the pack at ninth place out of 16 teams, while the men’s team fared less well, scraping together a 16th place finish out of 20 teams.

Senior Audriana Fitzmorris had the greatest offensive impact of the three women, recording 41 kills over six matches. Her tournament-high came against Argentina with 11 terminations. The 6’6” opposite added six blocks to her defensive stat sheet. 

Graduate student Madeleine Gates represented Stanford for her first time, and she rose to the occasion with 17 kills and six blocks. The former UCLA middle blocker proved to be most deadly from the service line, tallying five aces in as many matches. 

Junior outside hitter Meghan McClure affected every aspect of the game, recording 14 total kills, two blocks, four digs and a pair of aces over the course of the tournament. Her most productive outing came against Ukraine, where she reached double figures with 10 kills.

For the men, juniors Jaylen Jasper and Kyler Presho took the court. Jasper, an opposite, alternated hot and cold, recording four kills one game and 20 the next. Overall, he finished off 51 balls with his personal-high of 20 kills coming against Portugal. He additionally added eight blocks and five aces to his numbers. Presho racked up 25 kills total, with his best match coming against China, when he terminated eight kills. The middle blocker was also big at the net and the service line, with seven blocks and two aces.

In addition to the Stanford students that represented their native countries, four Cardinal coaches helped lead their athletes to medals in Italy. Women’s swimming associate head coach Tracy Slusser and diving head coach Patrick Jeffrey both assumed head coach roles in their respective sports while in Italy. Additionally, Stanford Taekwondo’s Huy Nguyen and Dongyoung Kim are on the Team USA coaching staff which led their students to a gold medal, a silver medal and a bronze medal at the Universiade.

The World University Games gave these 21 athletes a chance to test their skill and mettle against some of the world’s best. As collegiate athletics will not start for another month, these players will have the advantage of being set back into their hyper-competitive world sports sooner than most other athletes.

Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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