The Missouri State men’s swimming and diving team is tied for first-place with the University of Denver after day one of the Sun Belt Conference championship. The Bears and Pioneers are even with 205 team points followed by defending champion Western Kentucky with 147.5 points, Southern Illinois with 101 points, Evansville with 46 points and Florida Atlantic with 40 points.

Missouri State grabbed an early lead with a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay. Victor Serra, Dillon Burns, Andy Denefe, and Ignacio Gayo teamed for a time of 1:20.72, setting a new Sun Belt record and a new MSU varsity record in the 500 freestyle, J.R. Pyle clocked a time of 4:33.58 to take home fifth-place.

Victor Serra won the 200 individual medley, giving the Bears their second victory of the night. His time of 1:48.92 is a new Sun Belt record. Senior A.J. Goertzen placed fifth in the competition with a personal best time of 1:51.16.

Freshman Eric Ducourneau claimed second-place in the one-meter diving competition with a score of 279.10.

The 50 freestyle proved to be the best event for Missouri State. Gayo captured a fi rst-place finish in the 50 free, setting a new school record with a time of 20.23. Denefe took second finishing close behind in 20.42 and Burns claimed fourth with a time of 20.85.

The Bears wrapped up the night taking home a gold medal in the 400 medley relay. The foursome of Nicolas Villarroel, Cajun Skinner, Serra and Gayo clocked a time of 3:15.19, setting a new Sun Belt record and MSU varsity record. The mark is also a NCAA championship consideration time.

“We feel really good about how the team swam today,” stated assistant coach Dave Collins. “We did a great job improving our preliminary times when competing in the finals tonight.

”The conference championship continues Friday, Feb. 29, in Nashville, Tenn. Preliminary events are set to begin at 9:00 a.m.



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