Jayhawks finish third at Big 12 Championship
AUSTIN, Texas – With 613 points, the Kansas swimming and diving team finished third at the 2018 Big 12 Championship at the Jamail Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.
The Jayhawks slipped to that third spot Friday, and couldn’t recover, finishing behind West Virginia (650.5) and champion Texas (1,021).
“We put ourselves in really good shape to score points at night,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “It was definitely a bounce back session from Friday. We grabbed a lot of lanes for the night races and kept that momentum going. We performed at a high level.”
Those lanes consisted of 14 ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals positions, as well as three 1,650-yard freestyle racers and the 400-yard freestyle relay squad. In addition, the Jayhawks swam three NCAA ‘B’ qualifying times in those preliminary races.
Elizabeth Amato-Hanner (1:57.27) and Lauryn Parrish (1:57.92) both qualified for ‘A’ position in the 200-yard backstroke with personal-best times and fast enough to for NCAA ‘B’ marks. In the same event, Manon Manning (2:02.14) and Madison Straight (2:02.61) earned ‘B’ positioning in the night cap.
Carly Straight and Taylor Sieperda were able to slide into ‘B’ position in the 100-yard freestyle with times of 50.98 and 51.73, respectively. That set the tone for the next race, the 200-yard breaststroke.
Continuing her hot streak, Haley Downey swam her way to an ‘A’ finals spot with a time of 2:15.32 also notching a NCAA ‘B’ qualifying mark. Then Lydia Pocisk (2:20.53) and Aley Shimel (2:22.06) turned in performances good enough to secure ‘B’ final slots. That was a career-best for Shimel.
One ‘A’ final spot by Ellie Flanagan (1:59.69) and three ‘B’ final spots by Caroline Schultz (2:03.47), Haley Bishop (2:04.85) and Katy Schlies (2:08.69) followed in the 200-yard butterfly. Both Flanagan and Schultz swam their personal-bests times.
In the diving-well, Caroline McCleary finalized her Big 12 Championship competition for the year with a score of 141.45 on the women’s platform diving event. Nadia Khechfe excelled herself into finals with a score of 203.95.
Following the break, the team got off to a fast start in the finals competitions.
Amato-Hanner earned bronze in the 200-yard backstroke ‘A’ finals with a new personal-best time of 1:56.27 and was followed by Parrish in seventh with a time of 1:58.56.
The Kansas milers showed up to dominate in the 1,650-yard freestyle final. The squad finished second through fourth, and swam two personal-bests. Jenny Nusbaum took the silver with a personal-best time of 16:43.33. Nika Fellows trailed behind in third with a time of 16:48.13 and in fourth, Crissie Blomquist swam a career-best of 16:49.38. The squad combined for a total of 48 points.
The liveliness from the 1,650-yard freestyle carried over into the 200-yard breaststroke.
As if beating one school record wasn’t enough, Downey came back into finals and proceeded to break her second Kansas record of the meet. Downey touched the wall at 2:13.50, two-tenths of a second ahead of the previous school record set by Allison Lusk in the 2014 Big 12 Championship meet. She finished fourth overall.
“There was a snowball effect during finals and the energy from our bench was there,” Campbell said. “After the fast start of the 200-yard backstroke, the milers came in and went two, three and four. Downey broke a school record in the 200-yard breaststroke and Kehchfe did a great job on platform, an event she doesn’t do very much. It was a good finals session all the way around that was set up with a good prelim session in the morning.”
On the diving side, Khechfe represented KU and earned fourth place in the platform diving event with a personal-best score of 210.20. That was the first time she competed in the event all season.
Then the 400-yard freestyle relay closed the team’s competition with a fourth-place finish swum by Nusbaum, Parrish, Manning and C. Straight. The squad swam a season-best time of 3:23.13.
“We had really strong close to the championship,” Campbell said. “We had some peaks and valleys but we definitely ended on a high point today. We fell short of our goal but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ll pick ourselves back up and use this as motivation to have a really good summer and even better year next year.”
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