KU Swimmers and Divers Host MU in Big 12 Border Showdown

Nov. 10, 2011

Coach Campbell on Missouri meet

111011aab_618_2310729.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers will battle it out in the annual Border Showdown Friday evening at Robinson Natatorium. Kansas, at 3-2 on the year will be competing in its first conference meet of the season.

Mizzou enters the meet ranked number 15 in the nation, carrying a 2-1 record into their meet Thursday night against Missouri State. The Tigers have defeated Southern Illinois and Kentucky thus far, with their lone loss coming against future SEC foe Texas A&M during their first dual-meet of the season.

MU will be competing in back-to-back meets when they visit Lawrence as they will have just swam against Missouri State in Springfield, Thursday evening.

“They are using this period to improve their race fitness,” said KU head coach Clark Campbell. “They are at a different stage of their preparation than we are. In fact, they are going to have all of their athletes in technical suits on Friday night to get them ready for their meet in December.”

Campbell’s squad enters the showdown on a three meet winning streak, having defeated Northern Iowa and North Dakota in a double-dual three weeks ago and then Illinois in a dual meet the following week. Having a large impact on the team’s early season success is its core group of five seniors, as well as an experienced and talented batch of newcomers.

“Our seniors have done a really good job and Stephanie Payne has been on a mission all year, racing at a really high level” Campbell said. “Shannon Garlie is showing a lot of speed right now and Sarah Hettenbach, Abigail Anderson and Kath Liggett are all well ahead of where they normally are this time of year.”

Of the new faces in the program, freshman Deanna Marks and junior transfer Vanessa Hanbury seem to be making the biggest splash, as the two have combined for a total of six first-place finishes. Hanbury has four of those top finishes, while Marks can claim two. The pair has also seen much success during relays as at least one of them has been a member of the fastest KU relay team during seven total events this season.

“They (Hanbury and Marks) are doing awesome and just looking very good training wise,” senior captain Sarah Hettenbach said. “They have just come out and raced really well. I think everyone is going to reach that point eventually, but they have just got their sooner.”

Missouri brings their seasoned group of seven seniors into the meet on Friday, including one local, Shara Stafford, who is from Topeka and competes in the freestyle and butterfly events. Stafford is accompanied by fellow seniors Leah Coperthwaite, Lisa Nathanson, and Stephanie Rovig, who all swim freestyle events. Emily DiBenigno is one of two lone seniors who does not compete in the free as she can be seen swimming during breaststroke and IM events exclusively. The other Tiger senior, who is not a freestyler, is diver Christina Gailey, from Lexington, Ky.

“They are a very talented group and will be the third top 15 program we have raced this semester,” Campbell said.

The other two top 15 teams KU has faced this season include Arizona and Minnesota, who the Jayhawks lost to on the road, 170-80 and 206-87 respectively.

“Racing teams like these will help us, when we get to Big 12’s and we are competing against top notch competition like Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri again,” Campbell thought.

MU is also led by junior Dominique Bouchard, who comes to Columbia from Ontario and swims in the backstroke and IM. Bouchard has qualified for the NCAA championships in each of her first two years in the Tiger program.

“They have very good top end talent,” Campbell said. “Their athletes are ones who will win events at NCAA’s and are very fast in certain events. Because they are down the road a bit further in terms of peaking, than we are, the bulk of their team will be very good as well.”

Despite the tough test for KU on Friday, the Kansas swimmers are looking forward to the Tigers arrival in Lawrence.

“I love swimming against them,” Hettenbach said. “I remember my freshman year (2008-09), we swam at Mizzou and I had my fastest in-season time because I was really fired up to compete against them. They do have a really solid team (this year) but we are going to just go in, get our business done and see how it all shakes out.”

The Jayhawks are looking to send the Tigers to the SEC with their first loss against their biggest rivals since the 2005-06 season. The meet begins at 5 pm inside Robinson Natatorium and admission is free to the final aquatic edition of Big 12 Border Showdown.

For those planning on attending, park in Lot #34 behind the Computer Services Building, instead of the Student Recreation or other lots on campus, This is because of the men’s basketball game versus Towson at 7pm inside Allen Fieldhouse. For those who need further instructions or directions, a campus parking map can be found here: http://www.parking.ku.edu/map.pdf

Complete Border Showdown Series coverage & standings: http://www.kuathletics.com/trads/kan-border-showdown.html