Kansas to Close Home Slate in Televised Dual with UNO
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas swimming and diving already honored its four-person senior class as it does every year at the first meet of the season, but that doesn’t mean Saturday’s home finale won’t be void of a little pomp and circumstance. Laura Bilsborrow, Bryce Hinde, Chelsie Miller and Haley Molden will all compete for the last time inside Robinson Natatorium, closing the most successful four-year period for KU in the Big 12 era in a televised dual with Nebraska-Omaha starting at 10 a.m.
Saturday’s meet may be just another step in the Jayhawks’ march toward the Big 12 Championship Meet in Austin, Texas, at the end of February, but it will also serve as another chance for the quartet to up a sparkling 16-5 (.762) dual meet record over the last four years in the team’s historic venue. Among many individual highlights and achievements, the senior class, while sophomores, helped Kansas to its best finish in Big 12 history when the team finished second at the 2014 Big 12 Championships and posted a third-place finish at last year’s meet. Both of those placings snapped a six-year rut that saw Kansas finish fourth at the league meet.
“All four of them have been very special to the program and brought a lot to it,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “It’s hard to believe their final dual meet is here, but as they know there is still a lot of swimming to go.”
The swim against the Mavericks will be broadcast live throughout the state of Kansas on the Jayhawk Television Network (Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications in most areas) and will be carried simultaneously to a nation-wide audience outside the state lines on ESPN3. Time Warner Cable Sports Channel’s Leif Lisec will handle the play-by-play, while former KU men’s swimmer Brad Wells and former diver Kerri Brocker will serve as analysts.
“When we told them in our team meeting this week that this would be our TV meet they instantly perked up,” Campbell said. “I know they’re excited, not only to compete and finish out our dual season at home, but then having added plus of being on TV gets them really pumped. It’s something in our sport that doesn’t happen that much and when it does happen we’re very appreciative for it.”
Kansas is nearly spotless at home so far this year, posting a 4-1 dual record inside Robinson Natatorium and haven’t lost a single race any event at home dating back to the first weekend of November. Last weekend the Jayhawks added two more victories to the win column after routing William Jewell, Morningside and Tabor.
“We’re definitely racing better and we’re taking what we’re doing in training and implementing that into competitive situations,” Campbell said. “This weekend is going to be fun. We’re getting to the point in the season now that we want to use our meets to really sharpen up and a meet like this will be short, fast and it will be all about doing the little things right.”
KU had a chance to see UNO earlier this season at the Big Challenge in Topeka. The championship-style meet, which allowed athletes the opportunity to wear technical suits, had an entirely different feel to Saturday’s contest. Instead of a three-day meet featuring six squads, the two teams will go head-to-head in a sprint-formatted dual.
In place of the usual 100- and 200-yard distances in the strokes will be 50- and 100-yard distances with the 500-yard freestyle serving as the longest swim. Both the freestyle and medley relays will be 200-yards instead of the traditional 400-yard swims.
The Mavericks enter the weekend with a 3-5 dual meet record but have a pair of first-place finishes at invitational events in the past two months, including last week at the Grinnell Invite.
The meet serves as the midpoint of a grueling three week stretch of competition for Kansas which culminates with next weekend’s championship-style dual meet at Iowa State before the team scales back training to prep for Big 12s Feb. 24-27.
The first event Saturday will begin around 10 a.m. and as with all Kansas swimming and diving home events, admission is free and open to the public. Due to the men’s basketball game against Kentucky Saturday and live broadcast of ESPN’s College Gameday, many campus parking lots will be restricted. Parking for the swimming and diving meet will be available a short walk to the east of Robinson Natatorium in KU Lots 34 and 61, between Alabama and Mississippi Streets off Sunnyside Avenue.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.