MVC Championships: Day One Finals

    Kaixuan Zhang set an MVC Championship record with her score (346.25), besting the previous total by over twenty points.

    Kaixuan Zhang set an MVC Championship record with her score (346.25), besting the previous total by over twenty points.

    Feb. 13, 2014

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    Tim McCaughan

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois swimming and diving team wrapped up the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in second place, behind Missouri State. The Salukis lead Illinois State, Evansville, Northern Iowa, and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock heading into the second day of the three-day Championship meet.

    Southern Illinois did not disappoint in the opening event of the A Finals of the 200-yard freestyle relay. Pamela Benitez, Holly Johnson, Shailey Brumley, and Luisa Silveira were all part of a fascinating comeback in front of a raucous crowd at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium. Luisa Silveira swam the final leg for the Salukis who were in fourth place at the time. Silveira swam a 22.88 to help SIU (1:33.48) finish second in the event just behind Evansville (1:33.23).

    Benitez (4:53.50) finished second in the A Final of the 500-yard freestyle, behind repeat champion Dora Kiss of Missouri State. Helena Amorim picked up a fourth place finish in the 500 freestyle. She swam a 4:57.73, finishing just behind Evansville's Michelle Tipton. Freshman Lauren Stockton finished in fifth place in the B Final with a time of 5:05.88.

    Hannah Pinion (2:07.06) finished sixth in the A Final of the 200-yard individual medley. Renata Sander of Missouri State tied a Championship record swimming a 2:03.18 in the final heat. Kristy Hinkle and Sarah James swam in the C Final, tying each other with times of 2:11.96.

    The showcase event of the day was the 50-yard freestyle. In the preliminary session, 11 swimmers swam faster 24 seconds, and that trend continued in the A Finals with 6-of-8 swimmers going under 24 seconds. Kate Gately, MSU and Marissa Yontz, ILS swam as close you can, finishing the 50 free tied for first-place, each swimming a 23.17. The two finished just one one-hundredth of a second different in the preliminaries earlier during the day. Silveira (23.48) finished in fourth place followed by teammate Shailey Brumley (23.71) in the A Finals.

    The Salukis had three of the eight divers in the A Finals of the one-meter dive. Kaixuan Zhang scored a 346.25 in the event, besting returning champion Wengting Zhang of Illinois State by 3.25 points. Kaixuan Zhang set an MVC Championship record with her score, besting the previous total by over twenty points.

    Heading into the 400-yard medley relay, the Salukis had a tough test against Missouri State's relay squad which had won the previous five times at the MVC Championship. The Bears did not let up, making it a sixth straight time, besting the competition by nearly four seconds breaking the MVC Championship and the SIU pool records in the process. Southern finished in third-place with a time of 3:48.62.

    Tomorrow's preliminary session starts at 11 a.m. at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium at the SIU Rec Center. The finals session will start at 6 p.m.

    1.) Missouri State - 299.5
    2.) Southern Illinois - 204
    3.) Illinois State - 192.5
    4.) Evansville - 139
    5.) Northern Iowa - 102
    6.) Arkansas-Little Rock - 63