Hot Times, Start for Jayhawks at Kansas Classic

TOPEKA, Kan. – In just five events during day one of the Kansas Classic, the Jayhawk swimmers totaled 22 season-best times. Event wins by Chelsie Miller in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley and a win in the 400-yard medley relay propelled the team to lead the meet with 380 points Friday night, followed by Iowa State with 296 at Capitol Federal Natatorium.

Kansas used a bundle of its top performances of the season, particularly in the distance event as the team placed six Jayhawks in the top-eight finals heat. Freshman Nika Fellows, although not qualifying for the top-eight heat, dropped nearly seven seconds from her prelims time, clocking in at a 5:02.49 and placed ninth.

Miller’s prelim time of 4:59.42 was not a season-best, but her finals time of 4:55.16 was and gave the Kansas All-American her fifth win in the event this season. In the same heat, Lindsay Manning, Madison Straight, Sammie Schurig, Haley Molden and Allison Merecka placed third through seventh, respectively. Straight, Schurig and Merecka all clocked in season-best times during the finals session, while Molden’s time of 5:00.67 in the preliminary session now ranks as the third fastest on KU’s squad.

“It was really good to start off with an event like the 500-free – it was so strong for us and it really set a good tone,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “Nika didn’t have quite the morning, but to her credit she came back with a time that would have been in the top-eight at night. For her to make a break-through swim like that was huge for her and great for her confidence. That really showed our strength and set a good tone for the team.”

Miller claimed her second individual title in the 200-yard IM with yet another season-best time of 2:04.23. Straight, who had swam the 500-free in the event just before-like Miller-placed fifth with a time of 2:07.30.

“Madison had a really tough double today-the same as Chelsie, but Chelsie has done this a few times so she knows what to expect,” Campbell said. “The freshmen are still trying to figure it out with the morning session, the evening session, the relays and multiple events. It’s a lot different than high school or club, they’re doing a good job of figuring it out but still have a ways to go. The upperclassmen are doing a good job leading, they just need to take it day-by-day and learn. That’s what this meet is about, putting things together when it counts.”

Yulduz Kuchkarova, Hannah Driscoll and Deanna Marks swam to a quick third, fourth and fifth place in the 50-yard freestyle. Leah Pfitzer and Pia Pavlic, each with season-best times, placed seventh and ninth, respectively, with Haley Molden and Hannah Angell swimming to an eleventh and fourteenth-place finish. Together, the Jayhawks totaled 74 points in the event.

The Kansas A relay team of Kuchkarova, Bryce Hinde, Marks and Molden helped the Jayhawks end the first day on a high note as it swam to victory ahead of the Iowa State A and B relay teams, with a time of 3:48.78. The B and C relay teams placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Earlier in the meet, the 200-yard freestyle A relay team was out-touched by Iowa State by 0.13, swimming a time of 1:35.46.

“Our goal going in to the meet was to get season-best times, and we did it,” Campbell said. “It’s really happy for the girls-and the girls that didn’t do it this morning came back and pretty much all did it tonight. Like I always say at these meets, ‘well begun is half-done.’ We started well and we want to continue and feed off the momentum we built today.”

Down in Texas, the divers took to the three-meter boards on Thursday at the UT Diving Invitational inside the Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Sophomore Graylyn Jones placed seventeenth with a score of 214.80. The team returned on Friday to challenge the one-meter boards, where Jones and Sydney Power tied for 13th place with 231.25 points. On Saturday, the divers will compete for the first time this season on the platform boards.

The Jayhawk swimmers hope to continue its run tomorrow in the next six events of the Kansas Classic. Admission to the meet at Capitol Federal Natatorium is free and open to the public. official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.