Jayhawks Top Nebraska in Thrilling Senior Day Showdown
Jan. 14, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It may have been senior day at Robinson Natatorium, but the Kansas juniors played an important role in their team’s 155-145 victory over Nebraska, Saturday afternoon. The win pushed KU’s dual meet record to 5-3, while the loss was Nebraska’s first on the year, dropping the Cornhuskers to 2-1.
With junior Rebecca Swank already having won two events (1650 and 500 free), KU coach Clark Campbell decided to utilize another junior in his arsenal heading into his team’s final two events. With the score 129-116, approaching the final diving break, Campbell decided to take Brooke Brull out of the 200 yard freestyle relay and place her in the 200 IM, switching places with freshman Deanna Marks.
“We knew what we had to do to win because there are a certain amount of points you have to get,” Campbell said after the meet.
“We really needed to go one, two and three in the 200 IM and Brooke was swimming well, so I said, `Okay, you are out of the relay and I am putting you in the 200 IM.’ Sure enough, her, Stephanie (Payne) and Brittany Rospierski stepped up big, and that was when the meet was decided.”
Just as Campbell and the rest of his team had hoped, the trio swept first, second and third place in the event, as Brull won her third event of the afternoon.
“The meet was really close and Clark knew that Stephanie and I were two of the best IM’ers on the team,” Brull said. “He said that we had to get first and second in order to win and that is what Stephanie and I did.”
Payne’s final chance to swim in front of her home fans came at a most crucial time. The senior’s second-place performance in the 200 IM (2:06.23) capped off a meet in which she had a trio of top three finishes. Her first-place performance came in the 200 fly (2:04.11), while her third-place finish occurred in the 100 butterfly (58.06).
“The meet was a lot of fun, but very emotional because it was the last home meet for us seniors,” Payne said. “I think we did really well as a team because we all came together and pulled out a win. It was a great way to end our last home meet for us seniors.”
Other seniors taking to the water in their final home meet included Shannon Garlie, who achieved a second place finish in the 200 free (1:52.79), and third in the 100 free (52.82), as well as Kath Liggett, who took fourth in the 100 fly (58.52) and fifth in the 200 free (1:55.81). Fellow senior Sarah Hettenbach claimed sixth place in the 50 free with her time of 24.92.
While the four KU seniors relished their team’s final home victory of the season, their other teammates felt relieved they were able help make senior day a memorable one.
“Kath and I were talking after the meet and she said she would have been devastated if we would have lost in our last home meet,” Brull said. “I am really glad we pulled it out and came together as a team,”
Not to be outdone by their upperclassmen counterparts, some of the KU freshman and sophomores rose to the challenge on Saturday as well.
Sophomore Alison Lusk racked up two first-place finishes of her own in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.69) and the 200 breast (2:21.13), while freshmen Deanna Marks finished second in the 100 fly (57.56) and Rachel Snyder claimed third in the 200 fly with her 2:10.28 time. Fellow freshman Kaja Kolsek finished fourth in her first solo collegiate event, (24.53) during the 50 free.
“Allison Lusk had a breakout meet and performed really well in the breaststroke events,” Campbell said. “We had a couple of swimmers off, especially our sprint freestylers, but that is to be expected with what we have been doing the last two and a half weeks. Overall though, I am really happy with how we performed.”
Heading into Saturday’s meet, Campbell’s squad had just three days to rest from their eight-day long training trip to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Throw the heavy training schedule into the mix with an emotional senior day, and the 10-year Kansas head coach was quite pleased with the results his four seniors and the rest of his team put up on the board.
“The senior meet is tough because it is really emotional, but I think our seniors did a really good job of pulling themselves together and swimming at a high level,” Campbell explained. “Every senior class leaves a mark on the program and this one has set the bar high for the next class beneath them.”
During the diving portion of the meet, junior Christy Cash came in third place in the one meter (249.59), and fourth in the three meter (255.67), while sophomore Alyssa Golden finished fifth in both the one meter (238.12) and the three meter (212.54).
The Jayhawks have now won two meets in a row and have walked away with four wins in their last five chances. They will be back in the water again when they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks next Saturday, at 9 a.m. in Fayetteville. Log onto kuathletics.com following the meet for all the results, recaps and interviews.