Bears Win Seventh Consecutive MVC Swimming & Diving Championship
Feb. 15, 2014
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Missouri State women's swimming & diving team won its 11th overall and seventh consecutive Missouri Valley Conference championship at Shea Natatorium Saturday.
The Bears scored 945.5 points, winning the title over second-place Illinois State by 222 points, the third-largest margin of victory in MSU's 11 titles. The championship pulls Missouri State within two of Southern Illinois' Valley-record 13 titles, the last of which the Salukis won in 2007, before the Bears started their own league-record run of consecutive crowns.
Senior Sander was named MVC Swimmer of the Year for the third year in a row, while MSU head coach Dave Collinsearned his second MVC Swimming Coach of the Year honor. "It's great to a part of such a good program that no matter how strong the competition gets, we still keep the tradition of winning the championship," Sander said. "The Bears had a great season, and I'm really proud of my teammates for everything we have accomplished together."
Missouri State placed 20 on the all-conference teams, including 11 on the All-MVC first team.
The Redbirds were second with 723.5 points. Southern Illinois (634), Evansville (377), Northern Iowa (366) and Arkansas-Little Rock (218) rounded out the field.
"I'm so proud of this special group of ladies for their hard work the entire year," said Collins. "The winning tradition this program has come to expect brings added pressure, but I felt they embraced that challenge. This group deserves every ounce of success, and to enjoy being part of a conference championship."
Ahlin swept all eight of the 100 and 200 backstroke events in her four-year career and lowered her own MVC and school record in winning the 200 back Saturday for the Bears first championship final win of the day. "To have the privilege to watch Anna complete the four-year sweep in both backstrokes was a moment I will never forget. She is a great swimmer and a wonderful teammate that dealt with some adversity that made her even stronger this year." Freshman Briana Horozewski was second in the event in 2:00.58 and Megan Holthoffwon the B-final 2:05.81.
Sander picked up MSU's second victory of the day in the 200 breast, completing a sweep of the three individual events she entered in the meet, including the 200 IM and 100 breast.
"We knew coming into the meet that depth at breaststroke was going to be a strength for us," said Collins. "For Renata to win the event on her final individual swim was special."
The Bears placed four more in the A-final led by Lauren Pavel (2:20.17) in fourth. Alyssa Powers (sixth, 2:22.29), Andi Burroughs (seventh, 2:22.66) and Olivia Gean(eighth, 2:24.72) also had strong swims to help the Bears earn big points.
"Dora swam a very solid 200 butterfly to win the event for us," Collins said. "We also had some very good swims from the three other ladies, resulting in big points. It was also neat to see Roni close out her collegiate career with a great back half to finish third."
The finals session started with a solid 1,650 free from Heather Snyder (16:57.45), Suzanne Van Rensburg (17:03.96), Carly Wright (17:20.92) and Hannah Molden(17:24.76), who were second, third, fifth and sixth respectively, in the event.
"I'm very proud of the milers performance today," Collins said. "That event is the most grueling in the meet and requires a high volume of intense training. It was a great event to star the finals session and gain momentum to begin the night."
Molden, a senior captain, was ecstatic to win the fourth conference championship of her career.
"This conference championship was unlike any of the others I have been a part of," she said. "I realize how much work the team, the trainers and especially the coaching staff puts in. I know I speak for the team when I say that we are so thankful everything this program has done for us. I am so pleased with all my 26 sisters and wouldn't have wanted to be on any other team."
Kate Gatelyfinished second in the 100 free A-final after qualifying second in the morning she swam a 50.92.
"As our only swimmer scoring in that event, Kate put everything she had into to that race," Collins said. "She is a great racer and showed it against very fast competition."
Senior Lindsey Conway led the MSU divers in sixth on the 3-meter board, finishing fifth in the finals with 273.40 points. Freshman Alexis Skiniotes and Nina Priviterawere 15th and 17th, scoring 224.15 and 221,25.
"Lindsey was incredible on both boards this weekend," said Collins. "She was very consistent and managed her emotions like a pro despite knowing this was her last MVC meet. Watching her improve each year is what our diving program is all about."
The meet closed with a fourth-place 400-free relay from Gately, Ahlin, Emily Chesserand Sander in 3:27.07.
"I felt our group did a nice job of keep us in the race despite their lack of freestyle-relay experience. I was proud the way they challenged to the end."