Close Finishes Lead Arkansas to a Win Over Kansas, 194-105
LAWRENCE, Kan.—Fast times, tight competition, and a flurry of close finishes, which mostly went the visitor’s way, lifted No. 34 Arkansas to a 194-105 victory over host Kansas inside Robinson Natatorium Saturday morning. The Razorbacks won all but one event, a triumph for KU All-American Chelsie Miller in the 200-yard individual medley, and set a pool record in the 500-yard freestyle as Anna Mayfield bested her own Robinson Center mark.
Although not the outcome Kansas was looking for, the meet provided a top quality opponent for the Jayhawks who have been prepping for a date with No. 7 Texas and the rest of its league foes at the Big 12 Championship in four weeks.
“Some meets you’re the hammer, other meets you’re the nail,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “Today we were the nail, but we competed really well. In dual meets, the final score really doesn’t matter—it’s all about the process and competing. Our girls did that. We may have lost a few touches, and that can add up, but we’re still really pleased with where we are right now.
“When we race teams like Arkansas, it gets our kids excited and ready to go fast. We want to keep competing and pushing ourselves. These are great meets to help us gauge where we are now and help prepare us later on for Big 12s.”
A close first race in the 200-yard medley relay set the tone for the meet as Arkansas out-touched Kansas’ A relay, swimming 1:43.56 to KU’s 1:44.23. The Kansas B and C relays were able to come out on top of the Arkansas B, swimming 1:47.09 and 1:48.24, respectively.
Aiden Lister from the Razorbacks won the 1,000-yard freestyle in a time of 10:13.31, followed by KU’s Lindsay Manning who clocked in at 10:18.45. Manning’s time was her third-fastest this season.
Nina Drolc of Arkansas went head to head with Kansas’ Haley Molden for second place, edging her out by just .03. Molden finished in third with a time of 1:52.16, followed by teammate Madison Straight, 1:52.45. Chelsea Tatlow won the event in 1:51.90. All three top finishes were within .26 of each other.
A trio of Jayhawk backstrokers finished second, third and fourth in the 100-yard backstroke behind Arkansas’ Anna Mayfield. Yulduz Kuchkarova was runner-up with a time of 56.33, followed by Hannah Angell and Madison Hutchison, who completed the race in 58.32 and 58.41, respectively.
Kuchkarova, a sophomore from Tashkent, Uzbekistan had a special guest at the meet—her mom. Coming in for her daughter’s 21st birthday, the two were able to spend the week together.
“It was a huge support having her here,” Kuchkarova said. “It feels different when someone who cares is watching you, someone that has been watching you for 21 years. This was actually the first time in three years that she’s seen me swim. I’m so happy about it.”
Bryce Hinde and the Pocisk sisters trailed behind Arkansas’ Nikki Daniels in the 100-yard breaststroke, but were able to come out on top of the rest of their heat as they placed second, third and fourth. Hinde and Lydia Pocisk’s times of 1:04.70 and 1:05.75, respectively, are their fastest untapered times this season—second only to their performances at the USA Winter Nationals. Gretchen Pocisk finished fourth with a final time of 1:07.30.
A long-awaited win for Kansas came during the sixth event, the 200-yard butterfly, as Miller swept the heat in her fastest time this season, 2:01.61. The win was the fifth for Miller in the event this season.
“I hadn’t swam the 200 fly for a few meets,” Miller said. “I was just trying to get back in rhythm and focus on just swimming it, not necessarily racing it. We know Arkansas is a really good team and I think we did really well competing with them. They are ranked very well in the SEC and to be competitive with them is awesome. The score doesn’t always reflect how we swim individually, as long as each person is making progress we should focus on that—and I think we did that really well.”
Arkansas sprinters dominated the top-three finishes in the 50-yard freestyle, ahead of KU’s Hannah Driscoll who finished fourth in 24.48. Driscoll was followed by teammates Leah Pfitzer (24.55) and Pia Pavlic (24.58).
In the diving well, Graylyn Jones finished first among the KU divers and fourth overall with a score of 215.55. All the KU divers were within 13 points of one another, with Amanda Maser (214.73) finishing fifth, Sydney Power (213.76) finishing sixth and Nadia Khechfe (202.06) in seventh.
As swimming resumed with the 100-yard freestyle, Driscoll put up a tough race against Arkansas’ Maddie Monroe and Susanna White. Driscoll finished third with a time of 53.37, followed by a fourth place finish and season-best time by Kuchkarova in 53.46.
“I was okay with being second in the 100-back,” Kuchkarova said. “I had another race, and had to focus on that one too. Being second is not catastrophic. The 100 free was good, I was happy with that time. I used to be a freestyler so it’s good to be back on that track.”
Madison Straight swam neck and neck with the Razorbacks’ Chloe Hannah, who was able to slide into second place and out-touch Straight, who finished in 2:03.22. Hannah Angell tied her second-fastest time of the season in 2:06.71, finishing fourth.
Hinde and the Pocisk sisters finished second through fourth again in the 200-yard breaststroke, behind Nikki Daniels who swam a quick time of 2:17.93. Lydia Pocisk’s time of 2:23.23 was her fastest untapered this season. Hinde’s 2:21.73 finish was good for a second-place finish, while Gretchen Pocisk (2:25.16) came in fourth.
The third Robinson Pool record of the season came down as Arkansas’ Mayfield re-broke her own from two seasons ago. Her time of 4:51.78 was nearly eight-tenths faster than her previous time of 4:52.57. Miller took second place, finishing in 4:56.88, her third-fastest time this season. Lindsay Manning clocked in at 5:03.04, finishing third overall.
Pia Pavlic battled it out against Olivia Weekley, but was touched out by less than a quarter-second in the 100-yard butterfly. Pavlic finished behind Weekley in 57.10, while fellow Jayhawks Deanna Marks and Leah Pfitzer tied for fifth-place in 58.00.
Graylyn Jones, who earlier this season qualified for the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships on the one-meter board, garnered a fourth-place finish for the Jayhawks scoring 231.90. She was followed by teammates Nadia Khechfe (223.05), Sydney Power (213.22) and Amanda Maser (187.88).
Although out-touched at the end, Miller’s competition in the 200-yard individual medley was tough against Razorbacks’ Tatlow. Miller finished in second place with a time of 2:04.36, just .28 behind Tatlow.
“I was really impressed with (Chelsie’s) 200 IM,” Campbell said. “That’s a point of emphasis this year, and it’s to make her 400 IM better. She had an excellent race, even though she was touched out by a little bit. It was a high quality effort and we can definitely use it as momentum going forward.”
The final relay, like the first, was another close race for the Jayhawks A relay of Marks, Driscoll, Pfitzer and Kuchkarova. The quartet finished in 1:35.77, just behind Arkansas’ A relay time of 1:35.16.
Next up, KU will host Big 12 rival Iowa State in a two day dual meet in Robinson Natatorium next weekend.
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