Miller Lowers KU Record at Big 12s, Jayhawks Climb into Fourth Place
AUSTIN, Texas— The Kansas swimming and diving team entered the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship on Thursday morning with a boom box, plenty of dancing and a plan to move up the standings after a tough opening session. Kansas had fallen into fifth place by 26 points Wednesday night, but 24 hours later moved into fourth place with a team score of 150, just 8.5 points behind TCU (158.5). Texas (402) and Iowa State (205.5) had the top two positions.
On day two at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center pool, Kansas’ Chelsie Miller broke her own school record in the 200-yard individual medley, lowering her time from 1:58.98 to 1:58.37. KU placed Sammie Schurig and Madison Straight in the top-eight heat for the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard IM, respectively, and an additional 12 Jayhawk swimmers and divers placed in the top-sixteen to score points for the team. The 400-yard medley relay also gave KU a boost into solidifying fourth place, placing second overall.
Thursday began with the 500-yard freestyle, an event which all three Jayhawk swimmers entered earned new season-best times. In the preliminary session, Sammie Schurig swam the event in 4:54.60 to out-touch Iowa State’s Mary Kate Luddy and earn a seventh-place seed to finals. Schurig bettered her time by nearly one second (4:53.68) to finish in seventh overall.
In the consolation heat, Nika Fellows swam a blazing fast 4:52.71, nearly three seconds off her seed time from the morning and ten seconds off her career best time. Iowa State’s Karyl Clarete led the pack for the first 400 yards, when Fellows stepped up and was able to out-touch Clarete by .21 to place first in the heat, ninth overall. Teammate Lindsay Manning, seeded in finals as 11th, finished in the same place but was able to lower her career-best to a time of 4:55.89.
“(Watching Nika) was a really good way to start the meet,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “She kicked us off really well. It was so fun to watch how strong she was at the end, it really set the tone for the evening.”
Miller’s 200-yard IM time of 1:58.37 set a new school record and would have placed her second going into finals, but NCAA rules state a swimmer can only score in three events the coaching staff decided to exhibition the swim.
“That was a really big swim,” Campbell said. “Our goal was to have a really good morning effort, and she did that. That will really help her in a couple weeks at NCAAs where you have to swim well in the morning. That gave her a lot of confidence.”
Freshman Madison Straight, who dropped nearly four seconds from her career best time in the preliminary race, was seeded seventh (2:02.71) going into finals but was out-touched by Iowa State’s Sarah Deis and finished in eighth place with a final time of 2:03.84.. Lydia Pocisk (2:01.60) and Pia Pavlic (2:03.09) scored points for the Jayhawks and earned career-best times, finishing in ninth and 11th, respectively. Caroline Patterson was in the bonus heat, and finished 17th with a time of 2:05.17. Senior Patterson’s swim was the fastest of her career in her time at KU.
On the men’s side of competition, Texas’ Will Licon set a meet record of 1:43.20 in the 200-yard IM at the preliminary session. At finals, Licon dropped over 1.5 seconds, lowering his meet record from hours ago and setting a new Big 12 record of 1:41.67. The previous Big 12 record was set by two-time Olympic gold medalist Ricky Behrens in 2009, with a time of 1:41.92.
Kansas’ divers started strong, but fell to the Big 12 rivals by the end of six rounds on the one-meter boards in the afternoon. Graylyn Jones placed tenth, the highest for the Jayhawks, with a score of 252.05. Although not a career-high score for Jones, she will advance to the NCAA Zone Diving Championships in the one-meter event in Iowa City, March 5-7. Freshman Sydney Power finished in 14th overall (220.95), followed by Nadia Khechfe (209.70) in 16th and Amanda Maser (202.25) 17th.
“Overall there were some good takeaways to it, even though the end result was a little bit disappointing,” interim diving coach Gabe Downey said. “It wasn’t way off our expectation, but it could have been better. With two sophomores and two freshmen, I was really happy with how they responded. That’s one of the more difficult parts—physically, they’ve been training what they’re supposed to do, but mentally it’s hard to maintain that. After one miss, that snowballs and things can get disastrous, but each one of them did a very nice job responding well and picking themselves back up and still being successful. That’s what makes me happy and gives me a lot of optimism these next couple days. We’ve got good opportunity to improve upon what we had today and all of our girls are more comfortable as they go up on the three-meter.”
The Jayhawks did not qualify in the A-final of the 50-yard freestyle, but were able to advance five swimmers and earn 20 points total in the consolation heat. Yulduz Kuchkarova, who swam 23.58 in the preliminary session bettered her time by .18 to finish in 10th place overall. Teammate Leah Pfitzer followed in 11th place with a time of 23.53. Junior Haley Molden (13th) swam a career-best 23.58, followed by senior Deanna Marks with a career-best 23.74. Freshman Hannah Driscoll (16th) rounded out the scoring crowd with a time of 24.07.
After being out-touched to Iowa State by one-hundredth of a second to finish third in the 800 freestyle relay Wednesday night, Kansas came back at the Cyclones to take second in the 400-yard medley relay. Texas’ relay finished on top with a time of 3:33.87, followed by West Virginia who was announced disqualified (3:39.19), moving Kansas’ team of Kucharova, Hinde, Pavlic and Molden into second place (3:40.18). Iowa State followed in third with a time of 3:43.24, with TCU in fourth (3:44.93).
“It was a good relay,” Campbell said. “We learned from last night and slowed our starts down a little bit to have a really good ending to the evening. All in all it was a really good session.
“Tomorrow’s a really good day for us,” Campbell continued. “There’s a lot of potential and we have to come ready to take advantage of it.”
Friday morning’s preliminary session begins at 10 a.m. Events include the 400-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle relay.
At noon, the women take the three-meter boards for prelims, with the top-eight advancing to finals, beginning at 5 p.m.
The top-24 swimmers from the morning will advance to finals beginning at 6 p.m. Live results can be followed at Big12Sports.com.
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