November 23, 2013

AquaBears rewrite record book at Missouri Invitational

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Senior Courtney Van Oost was one of the big highlights for the Northern Colorado swimming & diving team on the final day of the Missouri Invitational as she broke the school record in the 200 yard backstroke, swimming a 2:00.24.

Van Oost, from Elgin, Ill., breaks Nan Liu's record of 2:00.54 from 2007. Her time was also good for 10th place overall and second in the 'B' Final.

The Bears scored 50 points on the final day to bring their total to 114 and remain in eighth place. The University of Arkansas won the meet with 809 points, while Utah was second (698) and Missouri was third (697).

"This meet has officially been labeled as the fastest invite in the country," Head Coach Kelly McClanahan said. "I am so happy the girls could be a part of something like this.  They dug their heels in and fought for every race.  We had roughly 53 All-Time Top Ten times and one school record over the weekend.  Courtney getting the 200 back record is phenomenal. From top to bottom, everyone swam well this weekend.  These performances bode well for conference.  Our times from this weekend are stacking up well against Northern Arizona, New Mexico State and Idaho's invite times.  It will be an exciting coference meet."

Sophomore Ellè Gawronska (The Woodlands, Texas) also finished second in her heat, the 'D' Final, for 26th overall after touching the wall in 2:04.50. Junior Melissa Tillman (Superior, Colo.) clocked a 2:06.12 to finish right behind Gawronska.

Junior Kellie Burke (Carlsbad, Calif.) finished 21st in the 1650 freestyle, swimming a 17:25.11, which is the sixth-fastest time in school history. Freshman Carleigh Barrett (Oshawa, Ontario) was right behind her in 22nd place with a 17:27.02 for the eighth-best at UNC. Sophomore Lexi Peterson (Goodyear, Ariz.) timed a 17:49.80 for 25th place and sophomore Erika Etz (Corona, Calif.) clocked a 17:57.38 for 27th position.

Recording the fourth-fastest time in school history in the 100 freestyle, senior Kira Alger (Monument, Colo.) won the 'D' Final for 25th place overall in 52.02.

Senior Gina Riggle (Eaton, Colo.) placed 13th overall after timing a 2:17.26 in the 200 breaststroke. Fellow senior Renee Stephens (Loveland, Colo.) swam a 2:18.93 in the finals after clocking a 2:18.89 in the preliminaries for 18th place and second in the 'C' Final. Freshman Tara Olson (Santa Clarita, Calif.) also rounded out a great weekend by swimming a 2:24.21 for 28th place.

In the 200 fly, Barrett swam a 2:02.17 in the preliminaries and came back to time a 2:03.02 in the finals for eighth place overall and the second-fastest time in school history. Her 2:02.17 is just off the school record of 1:59.72 by Liu. Fellow freshman Kimberly Kuni (Littlerock, Calif.) shaved 0.02 off her prelim time in the finals for a 2:04.72 and the third-fastest time in school history. Freshman Laura Ramirez (Spring, Texas) touched the wall in 2:06.83 for 21st overall to help rewrite the top five list. Peterson also placed 32nd in the finals with a 2:09.32.

In the platform diving, sophomore Kelsey Smith (Temecula, Calif.) scored 180.65 points for 15th place. It's a personal best score and ranks third in school history. Sophomore Haley Schneider (Longmont, Colo.) also scored a personal best with 168.45 points for 18th place and fourth on the school's descending order list. Freshman Taylor Walsh (Colorado Springs) finished 22nd overall with 151.25 points and sophomore Kellye Rather (Colorado Springs) rounded out the Bears in 25th place with 146.85 points.

The great weekend concluded for the Bears in the 400 freestyle relay as Alger, Burke, Tillman and Riggle combined for a 3:29.66 and 14th place. The quartet narrowly missed the school record of 3:28.37 set by a foursome in 2007. The B team consisting of junior Brenna Boese (Billings, Mont.), Ramirez, sophomore Jenny LaPorte (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Kuni timed a 3:31.87 for 17th place.

"We still have 95 days till the first race in Texas (at the WAC Championships)," McClanahan said. "So, it's time to buckle back down and get some training in.  We have seven weeks till our next competition, and many things to work on.  The girls know we have a long road to hoe, and know what specifics need to be corrected and/or refined. But for now, we will celebrate their successes from the weekend, and move forward tomorrow refocused on the next task."