Missouri State Swim Teams Tame Salukis and Bulldogs
The Missouri State swimming and diving teams opened their conference schedules against arch-rival Southern Illinois as part of a double dual with Truman State. In the contest the Bears ran away with the top honors, finishing a combined 192-32 team points for the men and 163-61 points for the women.
"This win feels really good," head swimming coach Jack Steck said. "SIU is a big time rival for us. This meet is probably the best work we have ever done against SIU for the men and the women. Everyone swam extremely well. We have been working very hard all season, and this win proved that. We showed a lot of heart, a whole lot of heart."
The men's team placed first in every event except for one, and placed first and second in all but two. One of the top races of the day came in the 200-yard freestyle. Swimming for the Bears were senior Nicolas Villarroel and sophomore Nick Carter. In the event, Villarroel (1:42.07) and Carter (1:42.11) finished a mere .04 seconds from each other. Both of their times were over a second faster than the previous season best in the event (1:43.88). Also topping the charts was junior Dillon Burns (Olathe, Kan.), who turned in a season-best mark of 21.06 in the 50-yard freestyle. Junior Roko Simunic also broke a season-best mark when he went 1:53.99 in the 200 IM.
"Our men's team really closed the gap on Eastern Michigan," Steck said. "You can bet that the Mid-American Conference will know about us come conference championship time."
For the women, heads were turned when the 400-yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Brianna Willoughby, freshman Amber Green, junior Chelsea Dirks-Ham, and freshman Liz Strother broke a six-year pool record with their time of 3:31.93. In addition to contributing to the relay, Green, in her first meet for the Bears, also won the 50-yard freestyle (24.14) and placed second behind MVC record-holder Therese Mattsson of SIU in the 100-yard freestyle (52.10).
"I'm very pleased with Amber and the rest of the newcomers," Steck said. "They have had some great meets. They came in and have been like a booster shot to this team. These are some very, very talented kids."
The Bears have a busy week ahead of them, as they follow this meet up with a hectic end of the regular season. On Thurs. Jan 21, Missouri State will travel across town to battle Drury University for the third time this season. The Bears have beaten the Panthers in the Missouri Showdown as well as in a dual at Missouri State earlier this season, but Drury holds the all-time series records with a 9-10 mark for the men and 2-5 for the women. Following the Drury dual, Missouri State will return home to take on MVC/MAC opponent Evansville on Jan. 22. To close out the regular season, the Bears will head to St. Charles, Mo. to swim against Lindenwood, Saint Louis and Illinois Tech on Jan. 23.