All-around effort keeps Jayhawks near top of Kansas Classic leaderboard
TOPEKA, Kan. – Jenny Nusbaum’s racing strategy was simple Saturday.
“I just got in the water and swam as fast as I could,” the freshman laughed after going undefeated in three separate 200-yard freestyle swims, including two finals victories to keep Kansas near the top of the team leaderboard at the Kansas Classic inside Capitol Federal Natatorium.
Kansas turned in a solid all-around effort to run its team total to 634 points, second only to Nebraska’s 676 through 12 of 18 scheduled events during the three-day, championship style meet. Nusbaum, a rookie experiencing her first Kansas Classic, nearly set the meet record in the 200 free finals, while a veteran swimming in her last Topeka meet returned to form as Kansas senior Yulya Kuchkarova lowered the meet’s top time in the 100-yard backstroke.
Nusbaum swam a lifetime-best 1:48.97 after qualifying as the top seed in the 200 free, then helped grow a 3.59 second-lead built by teammate Haley Bishop in the second leg of the 800-yard freestyle relay. Her swim extended the cushion to 4.35 seconds, helping the relay team claim an eventual 7.34 second win to close Saturday’s finals session. The freshman has yet to cede her top spot in the 200 free through four meets.
Kuchkarova, the Jayhawks’ top backstroker who had won in only one of three 100 back attempts prior to Saturday’s finals, torched the competition and the meet record with a 54.03, more than half a second faster than Nebraska’s Erin Oeltjen (54.67), who set the mark at 54.66 last season.
“Yulya was a real big pleasant surprise,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “She has been struggling. For her to have that effort right now with where she’s been, I’m so pleased with her. She was strong all the way through, hopefully this will turn a big corner for her.
“Jenny keeps getting better and better. The whole 200 freestyle group; her, Sammie and Nika, had a tremendous race.”
The two individual event wins and the relay finale helped Kansas close the session with wins in three out of the last four events after watching Nebraska celebrate the top spot in the first three. The Huskers (1:42.53) out-touched the Jayhawks (1:42.70) in the 200-yard medley relay to open the session, then swept the top three positions in the 400-yard individual medley before Dana Posthuma (54.29) held off Kansas’ Haley Bishop (54.45) in the 100-yard butterfly.
“We did what we needed to do,” Campbell said. “I wish we could’ve been a little stronger earlier, but we gained momentum as the session went on. We won the last relay and we’ll see what we can take into tomorrow.”
Kansas had advanced at least two swimmer to the finals in each of the individual events on Saturday, with four occupying slots in the 100-yard backstroke. In all both KU and Nebraska each had 15 swimmers in “A” finals, further distancing themselves from the rest of the field. Iowa State was in third with 370.5 points, followed by Northern Iowa (287), Northern Arizona (244) and Arkansas-Little Rock (167.5).
The Kansas Classic concludes Sunday with six more events, five which will include preliminaries starting at 9 a.m. The finals session will begin at Capitol Federal Natatorium at 2:30 p.m. The meet is free and open to the public.