MSU Widens lead on Day 2 of MVC Swimming & Diving Championships
Senior Renata Sander
Senior Renata Sander

Feb. 14, 2014

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CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Missouri State women's swimming team won four more finals on the second day of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Swimming & Diving Championships Friday to widen its lead over second-place Illinois State to 186 points at the Shea Natatorium.

The Bears have 647.5 points heading into the final day of the action. The Redbirds (461.5 points) are second, followed by Southern Illinois (386), Evansville (273), Northern Iowa (226) and Arkansas-Little Rock (161).

Missouri State began Friday finals winning the 200-yard medley relay at MVC championships for the 11th consecutive year. Anna Ahlin, Renata Sander, Roni Balzam and Kate Gately won it in 1:41.19. Freshman Briana Horozewski took the 400 IM in a school-record time of 4:20.58, while seniors Sander and Ahlin claimed the 100 breast and 100 back.

Ahlin, Sander, Balzam and Gately extended the Bears' dominance in the 200-medley relay, topping Illinois State in second place by over a second and earned a school record in the process. The squad broke previous mark of 1:42.52 held by Megan Holthoff, Sander, Balzam and Gately from last year's MVC meet.

"Our goal coming in was to dominate the medley relays," said MSU head coach Dave Collins. "To be able to do that in record fashion with three great seniors was very special. They will remember that race for a very long time."

Horozewski turned in a 4:25.10 prelims swim in the 400 IM to qualify for the A-final third. She didn't disappoint when she got there, either, winning the championship while topping the MSU record in the event, last held by Dora Kiss, by more than two seconds.

"We knew we had a very special swimmer in Bri, but tonight she showed the entire conference how talented she is," Collins said. "To have a monster swim like that in a championship atmosphere as a freshman was very impressive."

Kiss was third in the 400 IM in 4:26.29, Suzanne Van Rensburg finished fourth in 4:30.12 and CeCe Etter (4:30.13) rounded out the MSU scorers in the A-final. Heather Snyder won the B-final in 4:30.87.

Sophomore Emily Chesser led a group of four Bears in the 100 butterfly championship final, finishing third in 56.40. Classmate Rebecca Amparano was fourth in 56.46, Balzam fifth in 56.47 and Ibby Simcox sixth in 56.63 to score 58 points for MSU.

"The four ladies in the A-final provided us with great points," Collins said. "They all swam faster tonight than this morning in the prelims and that says a lot about their training."

Gately and Hannah Molden placed sixth in seventh, respectively in the 200-free A-final in 1:52.54 and 1:52.79, while Carly Wright won the B-final in 1:54.08.

"I was proud of the 200 freestylers for being aggressive on a very talented field," said Collins. "I felt like they battled well and improved from this morning."

Sander broke her own school record in the 100 breast prelims Friday morning in 1:01.45 to qualify first for the championship final. She followed that up with a 1:01.96, repeating as Valley champion in the event.

"Renata is a very special swimmer who is irreplaceable, but what she will leave us with is a group of very talented breaststrokers that she has mentored during her years as a Bear," Collins said. " I'm excited for the future with some great young talent."

One of the younger Bears, freshman Lauren Pavel (1:03.58), finished third in the 100 breast while Alyssa Powers was sixth overall in 1:05.12.

Ahlin completed a career sweep of the 100 backstroke at MVC championships winning the A-final in a championship-record 54.38 after qualifying in the morning in 55.33. Holthoff was third in 56.16 and Chesser fourth in 56,38.

"Anna has taken our tradition of success in the backstroke events to another level," said Collins. "To win the same event four years in a row in pool-, MVC- and school-record time is a perfect way for her to wrap up her career."

The night closed with a third-place finish from Molden, Simcox, Wright and Kiss in the 800-free relay with a time of 7:40.42, which tied a season best for MSU in the event.

"I very proud of our ladies' effort on the last event of a very grueling day," said Collins. "The lead changed a few times, and we were in position for most of it. Dora had a heck of an anchor leg to make it very close with SIU."

The final day of action gets underway at 10 a.m. with prelims and finals at 4 p.m.



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