Miller, Kuchkarova Top Performers Among Another Slew of Record Breaking Swims
Stats Link Big Challenge Day Two Results (.pdf)
TOPEKA, Kan. – The second day of competition at the Big Challenge shared a striking resemblance to the first, as 13 additional meet records were taken down along with season-best performances from a variety of Kansas Jayhawks, including NCAA top-10 swims from Chelsie Miller and Yulya Kuchkarova, inside Capitol Federal Natatorium Saturday. The Big 12 closed in on the Big Ten’s lead in the conference competition, now trailing 1,193 to 970. The Mid Major duo is in third with 237 points.
Four different squads of the six competing this weekend have contributed to lowering at least one meet record through two days of competition. The Jayhawks led the charge Saturday, earning four meet records including a top-10 national mark by Kuchkarova in the 100-yard backstroke and a top-five national mark from Chelsie Miller in the 400-yard individual medley. After 12 events Nebraska leads the individual standings with 689.6 points, with Kansas (589), Illinois (503.5), Iowa State (381), Northern Iowa (145) and Nebraska-Omaha (92) following.
“Today was a really good day for us,” said head Coach Clark Campbell. “The team really rose to the challenge. Everyone got a second swim tonight, which I was really pleased with and a lot of them swam faster than they did in the morning. So many good things from the first relay to the last relay.”
Career performances from KU’s international duo Kuchkarova and Pia Pavlic in the 100-yard backstroke highlighted the final individual event of the night. Kuchkarova, a Tashkent, Uzbekistan native lowered the third Kansas meet record in Saturday’s finals session with a time of 53.09, an NCAA B standard and the seventh-fastest swim in the country entering the weekend.
“Yulduz was great,” Campbell said. “That time will probably get invited to the NCAA’s, that was a big swim. It was her lifetime best by a lot and a tremendous race.”
Pavlic, who seems to have begun to show favor to the pool in Topeka, recorded a personal all-time record in the 100 back for the second consecutive year. The Medvode, Slovenia product registered a time of 56.29 during prelims, improving last year’s time by more than a second. She went on to better her mark once again in the B finals, swimming a 56.00.
Saturday evening’s first race was just a preview of an eventful finals session. Kansas’ A relay re-wrote the 200-yard medley relay meet record on its way to a hard fought victory. The relay consisting of Kuchkarova, Bryce Hinde, Pavlic and Haley Bishop, out-touched Nebraska’s A relay by four-hundredths of a second and registered a season-best time of 1:41.32.
Miller made it back-to-back Kansas meet records with her dominating performance in the 400-yard individual medley. Miller led her competition by half of a pool length as the All-American turned in a time of 4:12.71, her second NCAA B standard mark of the weekend and fifth-fastest time in the nation entering the weekend.
Topeka was well represented in the 200-yard freestyle with two natives performing season-best races. Haley Molden finished third in the A final with a mark of 1:49.41 behind Illinois’ Gabbie Stecker (1:48.70) and Nebraska’s Katt Sickle (1:49.11), all three of their times lowered the previous meet record set by Molden in 2012. Sammie Schurig led the way in the B final as KU took the top three times with just .21 seconds separating them. Schurig registered a time of 1:50.66 with Nika Fellows (1:50.77) and Breonna Barker (1:50.87) claiming the other two spots.
The Pocisk sisters tacked on two more Jayhawk season-best times in the 100-yard breaststroke. Gretchen Pocisk took second in the B final registering a time of 1:04.29, while sister Lydia took fifth in the A final (1:03.44).
The Jayhawks saved enough energy to finish the night with a dominating performance in the 800-yard freestyle relay, carving up yet another meet record with a time of 7:17.90. Bishop, the leadoff swimmer, registered a lifetime-best split (1:48.98). The freshman was joined by Molden, Schurig and Miller.
“It was a really good way to end the evening,” Clark said. “That 800 free relay is really good. To have these swims in November is exciting to see and be a part of. I can’t wait to see what this team is going to do in February and March.”
Kansas will conclude competition Sunday, with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 3 p.m. inside Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka. Admission is free to the public.
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