Jayhawks, Huskers Set to Meet Again in Robinson Natatorium
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Years of history will be revived as former Big 12 rival Nebraska makes its way to Lawrence for a dual meet with Kansas swimming and diving inside Robinson Natatorium Friday at 5 p.m.
Both Midwest schools find themselves sharing more than just the same region. Kansas and Nebraska recruit many of the same student-athletes, have similar facilities and have both become women’s-only programs. And after sharing the same conference for many years, the two squads will look to rekindle their once passionate rivalry.
“There is a lot of woven history between Kansas and Nebraska in swimming and diving,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said of the programs that last went head-to-head in a dual during the 2011 season. “There is a deep rivalry between us and Nebraska that goes all of the way back to the Big 8 days.
“Now, with us being able to compete with Nebraska again, we want to be able to restart the rivalry and give the teams something to get excited about because there is a lot of history there.”
Both Campbell and assistant coach Jen Fox, who donned the Crimson and Blue during their collegiate careers, are looking forward to bringing back a rivalry that was lost when the Huskers headed to the Big 10 Conference four years ago. The two programs last shared a pool during KU’s Kansas Classic in Topeka during the 2013 season.
Kansas proved it was a team that welcomes any challenge with a down-and-back, same-day jaunt to Fort Worth last Saturday and is ready to face its next obstacle in an evenly-matched Nebraska team.
One match-up to watch Friday is Kansas’ Yulya Kuchkarova and Nebraska senior Jacqueline Juffer in the 100-yard backstroke, as just four-tenths of a second divide the two competitors, who both rank in the nations top-150 in the event.
“We really matchup well,” Campbell said. “Not only are they strong at diving, but they also have some really good strokers and they are going to be a great challenge. We’re going to have to swim and dive very well if we are going to be victorious.”
This weekend’s event will be the first of two matchups in November between the Jayhawks and the Huskers. The two will meet again when KU hosts the Big Challenge, a triangular championship-style meet pitting teams from the Big 12 – Kansas and Iowa State – against the Big 10 – Nebraska and Illinois – and mid-major squads – Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Iowa.
“It gives us a preview of what Nebraska is bringing to the table,” Campbell said. “But the Big Challenge will be a totally different meet because we are adding several other teams. Championship meets have such a different feel than a dual meet, so it will give us an idea, but won’t change much of what we do in preparation for the Big Challenge.”
KU has seen contributions from an assortment of Jayhawks since the start of the 2015-16 season, and, as Campbell mentioned, will be looking for strong contributions across the board. In the last two meets, nine different Jayhawks have claimed first place in their respective events, with many winning multiple races.
In last week’s league matchup, Kansas cruised past TCU, winning 12-of-14 swimming events in the quick trip to Fort Worth for its second head-to-head win of the season after splitting with Missouri State and Denver.
Strong individual performances from the Jayhawks have resulted in back-to-back Big 12 Women’s Swimmer of the Week awards from CollegeSwimming.com. Senior Chelsie Miller, who was also tabbed this week’s Big 12 Swimmer of the Week by league coaches, was the first to receive the honor and freshman Haley Bishop was most recently recognized for her performance last weekend.
The rookie made a name for herself during KU’s first road test, winning both of her individual events, while assisting both relays to victories of their own. Bishop’s speedy performance in the 100-yard butterfly (56.03) earned her a spot in the nation’s top 100.
While Kansas has already begun to see the rewards of its hard work paying off, Campbell is hopeful that this week’s dual will be the squad’s best thus far.
“This is our third dual meet in a row,” Campbell said. “The reason we did these three dual meets in a row is to prepare them competitively for the championship events that are to come later in November and December. We would like to see if we can really challenge each other and make this the best of the three.”
Nebraska (3-1) enters the weekend’s dual winning its last three contests, including a victory over KU’s Big 12 rival, Iowa State. The Huskers’ only loss this season came in their home opener against an Arkansas team that is currently ranked No. 26 in the nation.
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