Straight to victory, Kansas tops Missouri State and North Dakota

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Madison Straight wasn’t in a sharing mood Saturday. The Kansas junior, who touched at the same time as fellow teammate Elizabeth Amato-Hanner to win Friday’s 200-yard individual medley, found a little extra to surge ahead of North Dakota’s Katie Breault in the 400 IM as she helped Kansas tally five more event wins and handily defeat UND, 198-146, and Missouri State, 209-130, at Robinson Natatorium Saturday afternoon. Kansas won 12 of 19 events during the two-day, season-opening double dual.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, Straight found herself neck-and-neck with a worthy foe, trailing Breault by more than two seconds after the first 200 yards before using a strong breaststroke to surge ahead, then closed with a furious final 25 yards to again reclaim the lead.

¬†Madison Straight pulled ahead in the final 25 yards to win the 400 IM.”After that tie with Elizabeth (Amato-Hanner), I was motivated even more to do the 400 IM really well,” Straight, who along with freshman Haley Downey won multiple individual events during the meet, said. “On the breaststroke I was getting really tired and I could see (Breault) right next to me. In the freestyle she pulled ahead and at first I was like, ‘No you go ahead,’ but I saw my teammates cheering me on and I sprinted toward the finish.”

Kansas entered Saturday’s competition with a large lead and tightened its grip further by claiming the top spot in the 200-yard freestyle relay then Straight followed with her strong finish. Kansas sophomore Breonna Barker made it three in a row for the Jayhawks when she out-touched MSU’s Loretta Stelnicki by one-hundredth of a second in the 100-yard freestyle. Barker was behind after two lengths, but turned in the fastest second half to win in 52.80.

Missouri State’s Sarah Allegri stopped the KU run with a win in the 200-yard backstroke, but Kansas finished second and third to still add to a commanding lead. For the rest of the meet, the Jayhawks took just the points from event winners, including Downey’s 200-yard breaststroke – a nearly five-second win – and put an exciting cap on the Senior Day meet with senior Yulya Kuchkarova anchoring the 400-yard freestyle relay in a 3:31.75 win.

“I thought we competed really well,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “We saw where we are right now and we still have a lot of work to do, but that’s ok. It’s October and it’s still a long season ahead. It was a good start, but we know we have some things that we can clean up and get better. We have a really quick turnaround with TCU coming in on Thursday.”

In the diving well, the top two positions stayed the same as they did on Saturday with UND’s Sawyer Murray claiming the three-meter title with a score of 242.6. Kansas’ Amanda Maser closed her series with a strong back one-and-a-half somersault, two-and-a-half twist free to secure second place with 234.85 points.

Despite a need for continued improvement, Campbell was happy with the willingness of his team to adjust from one day to the next, or even within each session.

“It’s really fun working with athletes that are very coachable and this whole team is wanting to get better, (asking) what do I need to do, and how am I going to improve and what tweaks we can make,” Campbell said. “When you have a team like that, that’s really invested and involved in becoming the best they can be, special things are going to happen. But, it’s a process, it’s not going to happen overnight. We’re all a little impatient. We just have to honor the process, keep working, keep that attitude and we’re going to be really good.”

Missouri State’s men’s team defeated North Dakota, 252.5-108.5, and saw sophomore Artur Osvath break the Robinson Natatorium record in the 200-yard breaststroke for the second time in the last two seasons with a time of 1:59.56.

“It’s a really good pool, I like it,” Osvath chuckled. “It’s kind of similar to our pool back at Missouri State. I didn’t expect to swim that fast but I feel like everyone on our team is in better shape than they were last year and I’m very happy about the times. Last year I missed the NCAA B Final by one-hundredth of a second, so this year I really want to score there.”

Kansas turns its attention to Big 12 foe TCU, which travels to Robinson Natatorium for a Thursday afternoon meet, Oct. 27. That dual will begin at 2 p.m. (CT) and be broadcast within the state of Kansas on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and across the nation on ESPN3.

“It’s a nice measuring stick but we don’t need any motivational tactics when we face someone from the Big 12,” Campbell said. “Last year we won down at TCU and I’m sure they want to repay us by beating us here. We’re going to have our hands full.”

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