Swimming finishes third at MVC Championship

    Sophomore Kaixuan Zhang swept the conference in the one- and three-meter dives; the first time an SIU diver swept the events since 2006.

    Sophomore Kaixuan Zhang swept the conference in the one- and three-meter dives; the first time an SIU diver swept the events since 2006.

    Feb. 15, 2014

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    Tim McCaughan

    Day Three Results Get Acrobat Reader  |  Team Scores Get Acrobat Reader |   MVC Championship Complete Results Get Acrobat Reader

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois women's swimming and diving team finished the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championship in third place on Saturday evening. Saluki diving coach Joy Zhao was named the MVC Diving Coach of the Year and sophomore Kaixuan Zhang was named MVC Diver of the Year.
    "We worked so hard. We are the first ones at the pool and the last to leave," said Zhao. "I am very honored to be named the best diving coach in the conference and I am greatful for the athletic administration for helping us get to where we are today."
    Six swimmers earned MVC All-Conference honors while 10 swimmers were named MVC Honorable Mention. The three-day meet was highlighted by four event wins for Southern. SIU's Kaixuan Zhang claimed the one-meter dive on Thursday while senior Pamela Benitez won the 200-yard freestyle in dramatic fashion on Friday night.
    The Salukis won their next event on the meet's final day. Pamela Benitez cruised to a win in the mile (16:48.23), winning her second conference title in the event in as many years. Southern's Helena Amorim (17:03.48) finished fourth in the event.
    Sarah James (2:02.34) and Kristy Hinkle (2:02.68) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the A Final of the 200-yard backstroke. Ella Otto (2:03.91) finished sixth in the event. In the 100-yard freestyle, Luisa Sileira (52.02) and Shailey Brumley (52.05) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
    Isabela Castro captured the attention of the crowd in the 200-yard butterfly. She took second place in the event to three-time defending champion Dora Kiss.
    Kaixuan Zhang put on a show in the three-meter dive, nailing nearly every dive on her way to an MVC Championship record score of 439.40. She broke the pool, school, and MVC Championship record that she set during Friday's preliminaries in the process. Zhang became the first SIU diver to be named MVC Diver of the Year since senior Brittany Weigel did it in 2010-11, and the first Saluki to win back-to-back MVC Championships in the three-meter dive since Emily Gable did so in 2009-10.
    Southern Illinois dominated the diving events for the second-straight year. SIU could not be outmatched, placing all three divers in the top-five in both the one- and three-meter dive. All of the divers earned All-Conference recognition.
    "We have a really solid group of kids coming in,” said SIU head Coach Rick Walker, “but you can't replace the seniors leaving. I watched them come in as little girls and I see them grow into strong, confident young women, and I'm just so proud of them."
    While the women's season is over, the men head to Buffalo, N.Y., for the Mid-American Conference Championship from March 6-8.

    Team Results
    1. Missouri State - 945.5
    2. Illinois State - 723.5
    3. Southern Illinois - 634
    4. Evansville - 377
    5. Northern Iowa - 366
    6. Arkansas-Little Rock - 218

    First-Team All-Conference
    Pamela Benitez
    Kaixuan Zhang
    Esther Chen
    Sarah James
    Isabela Castro

    Honorable Mention All-Conference
    Morgan Timms
    Holly Johnson
    Shailey Brumley
    Luisa Silveira
    Helena Amorim
    Hannah Pinion
    Brittany Weigel
    Ella Otto
    Lauren Stockton
    Kristy Hinkle