Nov. 20, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Missouri State swimming & diving team demonstrated this weekend at Northwestern's TYR Invitational that the program is on the rise. Setting the tone early, the Bears posted several lifetime-best performances over the course of the meet and ended the weekend with a bang.
In what turned out to be a two-team race between Missouri State and host Northwestern, the MSU men prevailed outscoring the Wildcats 1,006-981 for the team title.
The women's team finished the weekend in sixth and was just 15 points behind Cleveland State. Also finishing ahead of the Bears were Big 10 schools Northwestern, Illinois and Nebraska, and Big 12 Conference's Iowa State.
"I was really pleased with the way our swimmers performed this weekend," said head coach Jack Steck. "They were hitting marks that they usually hit at conference championship time. The great thing is I anticipate we will swim even faster down in San Antonio next month."
Freshman Paul Le was honored with the TYR Invitational Swimmer of the Meet award after locking up two individual victories on Sunday. Le won the 200 back and was one of four MSU swimmers in the championship final heat of the event. His time in the 200 back was just .09 seconds off of the MSU varsity record set in 2002 by Josh Wegrzyn.
Then, with the end of the weekend in sight, Le recorded his second win of the day in the 50 back, touching out Northwestern's Dominic Cubelic by .01 seconds.
Vitalii Baryshok continued his remarkable weekend locking up second place in the 50 fly with a time of 22.39.
Despite Baryshok clocking in at 44.51 and scoring second-place points, Northwestern cruised to a 47-point lead after the 100 free with four swimmers in the championship final and three in the consolation heat.
Missouri State didn't allow the Wildcats to keep the lead long, capitalizing in the 1,650 free as NU decided not to enter any swimmers in the long-distance event. Bears' Jared Roberts, Caleb Schuermann, Daan Jansen and Aaron Henry completed the 1-2-3-4 sweep in addition to Amir Arbel (6th) and Jake Coleman (11th). In all, MSU collected 87 points and created an 83-point cushion over the Wildcats.
The Bears hung on to their lead by placing Bulak and Arbel in the championship finals heat of the 200 fly. Missouri State headed into the 400 free relay and final event of the weekend with a 27-point advantage.
The group of Le, Baryshok, McKnight and Sims secured the team victory with a third-place finish in the 400 free relay. The relay time of 3:00.85 was a NCAA "B" cut and was more than three seconds faster than the previous top time.
The freshmen diving trio of Elijah Swaim, Garrett Nevels and Zach Wheeler all scored valuable points for the Bears in the platform diving competition. Swaim recorded a third-place finish (192.15), while Nevels and Wheeler finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
One of the highlights for women was the 200 back in which sophomore Anna Ahlin came out victorious. The Stockholm, Sweden native broke two minutes in the event (1:59.94) and is now just .70 seconds off of a NCAA "B" qualifying time. Also swimming in the championship final was freshman Megan Holthoff, who scored 11 points with her eighth-place finish.
In the women's 1,650 free, MSU had four swimmers score, including Dimitra Drakopoulou (5th), Suzanne Van Rensburg (8th), Dawn Richerson (15th), and Laura Peterson (16th), who combined for 28 points.
The dynamic breaststroke duo of Melissa Oishi and Renata Sander stepped up to the plate once again, finishing third and fourth. Oishi's time of 2:16.29 was just .09 seconds off of an NCAA "B" cut and replaces Sander as the MSU varsity record holder in the event.
Ahlin nearly scored her second win of the day in the 50 back, but was edged out by Iowa State junior Sarah Norris.
To close out the meet, sophomore Roni Balzam collected another fourth-place finish with her time of 2:04.03 in the 200 fly.
The Bears will now enter a month-long break of training before heading to San Antonio, Texas for the Incarnate Word Invitational, Dec. 17-19.