Bears fall to eighth at end of third day of C-USA Swimming and Diving Championship
HOUSTON - Day three of the 2009 Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championship and Invitational concluded on Friday night at the CRWC Natatorium on the campus of the University of Houston with three-time defending champion SMU claiming four more event titles, while the host Cougars also had a strong night as they won the other three events. The Mustangs won the 200-yard free relay, the 100-yard butterfly, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard backstroke to finish the day with 599.5 points.
Houston's strong day propelled them to 419 total points and they now stand alone in second place in the C-USA scoring. Rice is now in third with 402 points, while East Carolina is fourth with 354.5 points and Marshall is fifth with 142.
In the women's invitational scoring, North Dakota has 278 points, while Cal State Bakersfield has 122, and Northern Colorado has 111.
The Bears got their top finish Friday from Kelly Schmeckpeper-Cook, who finished seventh (12 points) on the 1-meter diving board. Sarah Cook came in 12th to earn five points in the preliminaries.
Northern Colorado's Tori Gutt got the Bears' best swimming finish, coming in 14th in the consolation finals of the 400-yard individual medley.
SMU picked up yet another relay win to begin the night on Friday. The squad of Candace Blackman, Sasha Van den Branden, Elzanne Werth and Petra Klosova set a new meet and pool record in the 200-yard free relay, when they finished in 1:29.90. The mark was an NCAA ‘B' qualifying time and three seconds faster than their preliminary time.
Rice also notched an NCAA ‘B' qualifying time as it finished in second place. Pam Zelnick, Skylar Miller, Erin Mattson and Carly Miller touched in 1:31.87, the third-fastest time in school history. Invitational member North Dakota claimed third in 1:32.85.
Women's 1-meter diving was up next and once again 2008 Olympic silver medalist Anastasia Podzniakova of Houston took the gold medal by a wide margin, scoring 346.10. Fellow Cougar Courtney Forcucci was second with 283.10, while SMU's Britney Yancey finished third with 275.30.
Houston claimed its second event of the night moments later when Andrea Pa'lmai touched the wall first by almost two seconds to claim gold in the 400-yard IM (4:19.52). Teammate Beccy Hillis was third (4:22.56) to give the Cougars 36 points in the event final, while SMU's Maroua Mathlouthi touched second in 4:21.41.
In the 100-yard butterfly, SMU took first and third to extend its lead in the team standings. Elzanne Werth set a meet record and also met the NCAA ‘B' qualifying standard with her winning time of 52.51. East Carolina's Amanda Duncan also met the NCAA ‘B' cut, finishing in 53.67. The Mustangs' Denisa Smolenova (54.47) just out-touched Rice's Erin Matteson (54.79) to claim the bronze.
The host Cougars collected their third event of the night in the 200-yard free after Sasha Schwendenwein claimed her second NCAA ‘B' time of the meet in a school record time of 1:45.79.
SMU's Candace Blackman (1:46.78) and Sasha Van den Branden (1:47.51) took second and third, respectively, and both times were also NCAA ‘B' standards.
Records continued to fall in the next event, the 100-yard breast, as both of the top finishers touched faster than the previous meet record. SMU's Devon Callaghan claimed gold and the new record in 1:01.37, while North Dakota's Carissa Gormally was just behind in 1:01.43. Mustang Raminta Dvariskyte finished in third (1:03.15).
SMU closed the night by winning its fourth event of the session and taking the top two spots in the 100-yard backstroke. 2007 Swimmer of the Meet Petra Klosova took the gold in an NCAA ‘B' qualifying time of 53.82, while Therese Svendsen also notched an NCAA ‘B' time of 54.18. Houston's Jessica Shamburger came in third with a time of 55.14.
Men's teams from league schools East Carolina and SMU along with Hawaii, Cal State Bakersfield and North Dakota are also competing in the C-USA men's invitational. SMU leads that event after day three with 619 points, followed by Hawai'i with 506.5 points. East Carolina sits in third with 358 points, while North Dakota (302) is in fourth and Cal State Bakersfield (282.5) is in fifth.
The final day of the event begins at 10 a.m., Saturday with the preliminaries of the 200-yard back, 100-yard free, 200-yard breast, 200-yard butterfly and 1650 free. Men's and women's platform diving preliminaries will begin around 1 p.m, The finals for those events are slated to begin around 6 p.m. and the event will conclude with the trophy presentation and specialty award announcements.