Jayhawks Looking to End Cyclone Spurt in Ames Prior to League Championships
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Nearly 40 years ago Kansas Athletics introduced its first swimming and diving squad and through a myriad of changes, one thing has remained constant – an Iowa State-Kansas rivalry. This weekend’s two-day dual against the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa will continue the long standing match-up, marking the 39th regular-season meeting between the two schools.
ISU and KU are the only remaining Big 12 members with women’s swimming and diving teams that competed during the Big Eight era. The Jayhawks have experienced success historically against the Cyclones with a 25-5 dual record since 1984. However, Kansas has fallen to Iowa State at Beyer Pool in its last two trips – something the Jayhawks are hoping to change this year in the final tune-up before the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships.
“We haven’t won a dual meet there since 2010. The last two times we’ve gone up there they were outstanding, especially on Saturday,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “We do this meet over two days for the athletes to have that last opportunity to prepare for what Big 12s will look like. It enables our team to have one more rep of what it’s going to feel like going from racing on Friday night to racing on Saturday morning. It should be fun, we always know with Iowa State we are going to get a very spirited competition.”
The meet format will mirror that of the looming league championship at Texas’ Jamail Swimming Center (Feb. 24-27), with Friday night’s competition starting at 6 p.m., mirroring the start time of Big 12s. Saturday morning’s races will begin at 10 a.m., coinciding with when prelims will take place.
After having the opportunity to compete in off-events during the last two swims at home – both of which still resulted in Kansas sweeps – the Jayhawks will utilize this weekend’s championship-style contest to compete in their marquee races before swimming with Iowa State, Texas, TCU and West Virginia in Austin, Texas.
“This is our last competitive opportunity to go and have excellent racing,” Campbell said. “We’re locked and loaded for this meet. We’re going to be focused and come back to the nuts and bolts of our program. We need to put our best foot forward and have a really good meet.”
Both squads met earlier this year at the Big Challenge in Topeka, Kansas where they teamed up to represent the Big 12 in a contest between a pair of Big 10 schools –Illinois and Nebraska – and two mid-major schools – Northern Iowa and Nebraska-Omaha. The two teams combined for a second-place finish in the conference competition, behind the Big Ten.
Some of the most competitive races to watch this weekend include the backstroke, breaststroke and individual medley races. KU’s Yulya Kuchkarova has an NCAA ‘B’ time in both the 100- and 200-yard races and ranks among the conference’s top-three fastest times in both. Iowa State will counter with Marissa Engel, who has also achieved an NCAA ‘B’ standard in the 200 back and is in the league’s top-10 in each event.
Iowa State’s Kasey Roberts swam a 1:02.53 in the 100-yard breaststroke, just off the NCAA ‘B’ mark and is sixth among Big 12 swimmers in the event this season. In the 200-yard race, she has the NCAA ‘B’ cut after swimming a 2:14.61 and has the fastest time of any competitor in the water this weekend so far in both races. In the 100-yard race, Kansas sophomore Lydia Pocisk (1:03.44) has KU’s top time this season and senior captain Bryce Hinde (2:18.20) has the Jayhawks’ fastest swim in the 200-yard event.
The Jayhawks will look to All-American Chelsie Miller to lead the individual medley races and the Jayhawk senior has already achieved the NCAA ‘B’ standard in both while ranking fifth (200 IM) and third (400 IM) in the Big 12 in each event prior to the weekend. Roberts is the Cyclones’ top challenger in each and sits at seventh on the league charts in both races.
Kansas heads into the weekend with an 8-4 dual record on the year, including wrapping 40 consecutive events at home around a tough pair of double-duals that saw Kansas go 1-3 on the team’s winter training trip in Florida. Iowa State is 6-4 in dual competition entering the weekend and has won three of its last four meets.
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