Luisa Silveira anchored the Salukis school-record-breaking 200-yard freestyle relay team.
Feb. 14, 2013
By John Lock
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois swimming and diving team wrapped up the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in third place, narrowly behind Missouri State and Illinois State. The Salukis lead Evansville and Northern Iowa heading into the second day of the three-day Championship meet.
"When was the last time we were right in the hunt after the first day?" head coach Rick Walker said. "That's a compliment to our girls for coming out and giving a great effort today. Hopefully, we can keep some momentum going over the next two days and make things interesting down the stretch."
The Salukis trail second-place Illinois State by only two points and leader Missouri State by just 33 points. Southern hasn't been this close to the meet leader after the first day since 2008, when the Salukis led after the first day. In the last four years, the Salukis have trailed by 80, 107.5, 83 and 42 points, respectively, each time to Missouri State, who went on to win the meet.
Southern started the meet off with a bang, setting a school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay on its way to winning the event. The foursome of Pamela Benitez, Shailey Brumley, Holly Johnson and Luisa Silveira swam a record time of 1:33.18, missing an MVC Championship record by .08 seconds.
Benitez followed up the relay with a win in the 500-yard freestyle, settling for a second-place finish (4:52.28), just .08 seconds behind Missouri State's Dora Kiss. Helena Amorim finished sixth in the A Final (4:58.25, getting 13 more points for SIU. Kirsten Groome (5:05.17) placed sixth in the B Final and scored three points for the Salukis.
The event of the day was the 50-yard freestyle. In the preliminary session, 15 swimmers swam faster than last year's winning time; and the trend continued in the final. Luisa Silveira finished fifth in the A Final (23.75), while Holly Johnson (23.81) and Shailey Brumley (23.90) finished as the top two times in the B Final. All three times were fast enough to win last year's MVC Championship. Rachael Barry (24.72) placed seventh in the B Final.
The Salukis had half of the divers in the A Final of the one-meter dive but couldn't pull an upset over 2012 MVC Diver of the Year Wenting Zhang of Illinois State. Esther Chen (308.85) finished in second place, while Brittany Weigel (270.95), Sherry Zhang (266.05) and Anna Beeck (251.85) finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
Heading into the day's last event, the Salukis held a slim two-point lead over Illinois State for second place in the meet, but the Redbirds finished second and the Salukis finished fourth to put SIU two points behind ISU heading into the meet's second day.
Tomorrow's preliminary session starts at 11 a.m. CST in the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium at the SIU Rec Center. The finals session will start at 6 p.m.
1.) Missouri State - 251
2.) Illinois State - 220
3.) Southern Illinois - 218
4.) Evansville - 162
5.) Northern Iowa - 97