Records, Times Drop at Kansas Classic

TOPEKA, Kan. – Two meet records and 30 season-best times set Kansas apart during Saturday’s sessions of the Kansas Classic at Capitol Federal Natatorium. Record-breaking wins in the 200-medley and 800-yard freestyle relays, and individual wins by Chelsie Miller in the 400-individual medley, Haley Molden in the 200-freestyle and Yulduz Kuchkarova in the 100-backstroke continued the Jayhawks’ winning ways and kept Kansas at the top of the leaderboard going into Sunday’s finale with 893 points. Iowa State trails in second with 740 points, followed by Northern Iowa (295), Nebraska-Omaha (256) and Tabor (114).
Kansas didn’t waste anytime making its mark in Saturday evening’s finals races, as the Jayhawk “A” 200-medley relay team of Kuchkarova, Bryce Hinde, Deanna Marks and Hannah Driscoll pulled away from Iowa State’s “A” relay, finishing more than 2 seconds ahead of the Big 12 rival with a time of 1:43.21 and breaking Notre Dame’s previous meet record. The “B” relay team of Madison Hutchison, Lydia Pocisk, Pia Pavlic and Leah Pfitzer finished in fourth, chalking up 30 points for the Jayhawks.
The momentum carried into the 400-yard individual medley, where Miller and Madison Straight finished first and second with times of 4:21.90 and 4:26.15, respectively. Both swam more than three seconds faster than the preliminary session and clocked in season-best times. Also notable was Laura Bilsborrow, who dropped nearly 1.5 seconds off her season-best time in the preliminary session, and came back to drop almost six seconds in the consolation heat. Her time of 4:35.86 was a time that could have put her in the top heat.
“There’s a lot of people I’m proud of,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said, “but Laura Bilsborrow – she’s not always one of our top swimmers but she went out there and raced three individual events today and had a relay, and got lifetime bests in every single event. When you’re strong from top to bottom, that’s the sign of a really good team. I was really pleased with her.”
In the 100-yard butterfly, Pavlic put up quick times of 56.87, but not quick enough to out-touch Amanda Paulson of Iowa State, who finished in 56.64. Also qualifying for the top-eight “A” final heat was Marks, Leah Pfitzer, Lydia Pocisk and Zoya Wahlstrom who, combined with Pavlic, put up 60 points for the Jayhawks.
Molden won her fifth race in the 200-yard freestyle this season, in a close swim with Iowa State’s Karyl Clarete. Molden’s time of 1:51.37 may not have been a season-best swim, but it was enough to out-touch Clarete’s time of 1:51.59. Merecka swam into third place with a 1:53.30.
Hinde and Cyclone Kasey Roberts swam neck-and-neck the entire 100-yard breaststroke, but Roberts was faster to stretch to the wall, finishing just 0.06 ahead of Hinde. Driscoll and Lydia Pocisk, also in the top-eight “A” heat and Miller in the “B” heat of the breaststroke, finished with season-best times.
The Jayhawks rebounded with an event they dominated in the morning session, entering the 100-yard backstroke finals with six swimmers in the top-eight heat. Kuchkarova dropped more than a second from her season-best preliminary time to win the event in 55.54. Marks, Pavlic, Hannah Angell and Hutchison finished third through sixth, respectively, while Straight swam into eighth for the evening.  
“Yulya had a big, big night,” Campbell said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how well she does at the end of the year. Those were just humongous swims and for how backwards her training has been with trying to peak in September for the Asian games, we’re just pleased as all get out and can’t wait to see what she does tomorrow in the 200 (back).”
The Kansas “A” and “B” relay teams swam in adjacent lanes for the final event, the 800-yard freestyle relay. Both teams finished ahead of the Cyclone’s “A” relay, and the “A” relay of Molden, Merecka, Straight and Miller set a new meet record in a time of 7:30.62.
“That was really a great way to start and a great way to finish,” Campbell said. “We had talked about winning both relays and trying to get first and second in the last relay and, by gosh, they did it. It was a great way to start and an even better way to finish the meet. I’m very proud of the team.”
Outside of Topeka, the Jayhawk divers competed on the platform boards for the first time this season at the UT Diving Invitational. Sophomore Graylyn Jones placed eleventh with 162.95 points, while Amanda Maser, Nadia Khechfe and Sydney Power placed thirteenth through fifteenth, respectively.
The KU swimmers return to Capitol Federal Natatorium on Sunday, with the preliminary session beginning at 9 a.m. The final six events include just one relay, the 400-yard freestyle relay, and five individual events.
“We have to finish,” Campbell said. “Tomorrow morning – the fifth session of a six session meet – is always the toughest. It’s very short, everyone’s a little tired from two days of racing before, but we’ve got to embrace racing and competing and finish strong. Keep doing what we’re doing. Tomorrow morning is all about the strength of what you’ve done up to this point and we’ve done very well so we want to finish on a high note.”

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